After last night's 12-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies sulked away, back to 11 games under .500, with another series loss at the hands of the boys from Georgia and a season continuing to sink away. The night began with Kyle Kendrick attempting to pick up his fifth win of the season. It didn't happen.
It has become abundantly clear that Kendrick is not a Major League starter, yet the Phillies continue to try to force the right-hander upon us as a legitimate 4th or 5th starter. He now has a 4.86 ERA in 2012, a year after he went 8-6 in 34 games (15 of them starts) with a 3.22 ERA in 2011. The problem is that we should have seen this coming, and GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. did not. At this point, Kendrick is locked in through next season thanks to Amaro's two-year contract to Kendrick prior to the season's beginning. The problem with that contract is that it was $7.5 million of wasted money on a swingman pitcher that can't get the job done in a starting role. And, you just shouldn't pay that type of money to a reliever unless he's got a chance to be something. Kendrick has a chance to be something, but it sure isn't starting.
Kendrick has become a punching bag for Major League hitters, as his career 4.91 FIP indicates. The problem with Kendrick is that he gives the impression that he is a groundball pitcher. He isn't. Just 42.7% of balls in play this year that Kendrick has allowed have been grounders. That's not good enough for a masquerading sinker-baller like Kendrick. He deserves to be where he has been for a good part of this season, in the bullpen. Then, the question becomes, why do you pay a guy $7.5 million over two years to be a reliever, especially someone of Kendrick's nature?
This year, he has a career-high walk rate, but also a career-high strikeout rate. A lot of that success with the strikeouts came in the bullpen, but he's never been a big-time strikeout pitcher and never will be. Why waste the money? It's a question I haven't had the answer to since the contract was handed out last winter. He was a major help in 2007, when the Phillies needed someone to step in and fill some shoes in a difficult run. Then, the rest of the league caught up to him.
Last night, he went 3.1 innings, allowed seven hits and six earned runs, walked three and struck out just one. Meanwhile, pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel just sit by idly and watch.
The evidence is clear. Kendrick does not deserve to be in the team's rotation, and they are best suited putting him back in the bullpen. Even then, he only has 33 strikeouts in 64.1 innings out of the bullpen. If every team needs to have that swingman type of pitcher who can be yo-yoed back and forth, then Kendrick isn't that guy, particularly at his cost. Tyler Cloyd has torn up AAA hitters for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, and it's time to give the guy a shot as a starter for the rest of the year. If he doesn't work out, then there are a litany of 5th starter types available every off-season at a low cost. Kendrick isn't going anywhere, because he serves some sort of value out of the bullpen; or at least, the Phillies give the impression that he does. Right-handers don't light the world on fire against him, so he would make a bit more sense out of the bullpen against right-handers in 2013. He's just not a starter, and the sooner the Phillies finalize realize this, the sooner they can move on.
Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference.com
Victor Filoromo is a featured contributor for Yahoo! and also contributes to PhuturePhillies.com, a Phillies' prospect blog. He grew up just outside of Philadelphia, and enjoys Philadelphia sports, media, and politics. You can follow him on Twitter @victorfiloromo.
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