Kyle Kendrick made his spring training debut this afternoon against the Detroit Tigers. In two innings of work, Kendrick was anything but sharp. He threw 27 pitches, 12 balls and 15 strikes, allowing two hits, three walks and three runs. Kendrick is not known for having control problems and only walked 47 batters in 182 innings last season.
This is just his first outing of the spring so no reason to panic, but it might be something to keep an eye on. The Philadelphia Phillies will need Kendrick to be at his best this season if they are going to be successful. With Cole Hamels out for opening day, likely to miss at least two starts, Kendrick will serve a larger role than expected at the beginning of the season.
Although the baseball season is 162 games long, the early games could prove to be critical this season. The NL East will be a difficult division to win this season as the Atlanta Braves have a talented young core of players who are carrying the momentum from last season’s division title. The Phillies will need every win they can get and that means in April too.
This is the first time in Kendrick’s career that he will be a leader of the team and have an understood role. In seasons past, he came into spring having to prove himself and work for a spot in the starting rotation. Expect to see him work hard and lead by example, barring injury, and his next appearance this spring will be much more impressive. He should be able to settle in and find his spots more consistently.
Kendrick did strikeout three and one of the two hits he allowed was a seeing eye single between third base and shortstop. Throughout his career, he has typically had better numbers in the second half of the season, but the team would love to see him get out to a hot start and coast. Hopefully he will be able to get his command back before the end of March.