Kyle Kendrick’s Turnaround Reminiscent of Dave Stewart

For those of us who have followed Kyle Kendrick for his entire career, his turnaround over the last calendar year has been nothing short of remarkable.

Want proof? Take a look at these numbers from CSN Philly’s stat guru Corey Seidman…

Kyle Kendrick has made 17 starts since Aug. 14, 2012. Over that span, the only SP in baseball with a lower ERA in as many starts? Cliff Lee. — Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidman) May 8, 2013

I mean, if that isn’t just a great big pile of unbelievable, I don’t know what is.

The question is, has there ever been anything like this before?

His rookie year in 2007 aside, Kendrick was a league average pitcher for most of his career. There were some good moments, but there were also lots of very bad ones. Kendrick could not get out left-handed hitters, and his pitching lines took a beating because of it.

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
2007 22 PHI NL 10 4 .714 3.87 20 20 0 0 0 121.0 129 53 52 16 25 3 49 7 118 1.273 9.6 1.2 1.9 3.6 1.96 RoY-5
2008 23 PHI NL 11 9 .550 5.49 31 30 1 0 0 155.2 194 103 95 23 57 2 68 14 79 1.612 11.2 1.3 3.3 3.9 1.19
2009 24 PHI NL 3 1 .750 3.42 9 2 2 0 0 26.1 27 11 10 1 9 0 15 1 125 1.367 9.2 0.3 3.1 5.1 1.67
2010 25 PHI NL 11 10 .524 4.73 33 31 1 1 0 180.2 199 103 95 26 49 4 84 3 86 1.373 9.9 1.3 2.4 4.2 1.71
2011 26 PHI NL 8 6 .571 3.22 34 15 5 0 0 114.2 110 50 41 14 30 5 59 7 119 1.221 8.6 1.1 2.4 4.6 1.97
2012 27 PHI NL 11 12 .478 3.90 37 25 2 1 1 159.1 154 76 69 20 49 4 116 7 104 1.274 8.7 1.1 2.8 6.6 2.37
2013 28 PHI NL 4 1 .800 2.45 7 7 0 1 1 47.2 42 13 13 4 10 1 35 0 161 1.091 7.9 0.8 1.9 6.6 3.50
7 Yrs 58 43 .574 4.19 171 130 11 3 2 805.1 855 409 375 104 229 19 426 39 99 1.346 9.6 1.2 2.6 4.8 1.86
162 Game Avg. 13 10 .574 4.19 39 29 2 1 0 182 193 92 85 23 52 4 96 9 99 1.346 9.6 1.2 2.6 4.8 1.86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2013.

Yes, he managed to record a lot of wins during that time. And yes, the perception of him being really, really horrible was probably not the reality of the situation.

Still, the Kyle Kendrick we’ve seen over the last calendar year was nothing close to what he used to be. And that’s a very good thing.

In fact, the only recent turnaround like this that I can remember came from the great Dave Stewart.

Nov 18, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dave Stewart still has that stare. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
1978 21 LAD NL 0 0 0.00 1 0 1 0 0 2.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 0.500 4.5 0.0 0.0 4.5
1981 24 LAD NL 4 3 .571 2.49 32 0 14 0 0 43.1 40 13 12 3 14 5 29 0 0 4 184 136 1.246 8.3 0.6 2.9 6.0 2.07
1982 25 LAD NL 9 8 .529 3.81 45 14 9 0 0 146.1 137 72 62 14 49 11 80 2 0 3 616 92 1.271 8.4 0.9 3.0 4.9 1.63
1983 26 TOT MLB 10 4 .714 2.60 54 9 25 2 0 135.0 117 43 39 6 50 7 78 4 0 3 565 146 1.237 7.8 0.4 3.3 5.2 1.56
1983 26 LAD NL 5 2 .714 2.96 46 1 25 0 0 76.0 67 28 25 4 33 7 54 2 0 2 328 122 1.316 7.9 0.5 3.9 6.4 1.64
1983 26 TEX AL 5 2 .714 2.14 8 8 0 2 0 59.0 50 15 14 2 17 0 24 2 0 1 237 188 1.136 7.6 0.3 2.6 3.7 1.41
1984 27 TEX AL 7 14 .333 4.73 32 27 2 3 0 192.1 193 106 101 26 87 3 119 4 0 12 847 87 1.456 9.0 1.2 4.1 5.6 1.37
1985 28 TOT MLB 0 6 .000 5.46 46 5 32 0 0 85.2 91 57 52 13 41 5 66 2 1 7 383 78 1.541 9.6 1.4 4.3 6.9 1.61
1985 28 TEX AL 0 6 .000 5.42 42 5 29 0 0 81.1 86 53 49 13 37 5 64 2 1 5 361 78 1.512 9.5 1.4 4.1 7.1 1.73
1985 28 PHI NL 0 0 6.23 4 0 3 0 0 4.1 5 4 3 0 4 0 2 0 0 2 22 65 2.077 10.4 0.0 8.3 4.2 0.50
1986 29 TOT MLB 9 5 .643 3.95 37 17 4 4 1 161.2 152 76 71 16 69 0 111 3 3 10 700 98 1.367 8.5 0.9 3.8 6.2 1.61
1986 29 PHI NL 0 0 6.57 8 0 2 0 0 12.1 15 9 9 1 4 0 9 0 3 1 56 61 1.541 10.9 0.7 2.9 6.6 2.25
1986 29 OAK AL 9 5 .643 3.74 29 17 2 4 1 149.1 137 67 62 15 65 0 102 3 0 9 644 103 1.353 8.3 0.9 3.9 6.1 1.57
1987 30 OAK AL 20 13 .606 3.68 37 37 0 8 1 261.1 224 121 107 24 105 2 205 6 0 11 1103 113 1.259 7.7 0.8 3.6 7.1 1.95 CYA-3
1988 31 OAK AL 21 12 .636 3.23 37 37 0 14 2 275.2 240 111 99 14 110 5 192 3 16 14 1156 118 1.270 7.8 0.5 3.6 6.3 1.75 CYA-4,MVP-22
1989 32 OAK AL 21 9 .700 3.32 36 36 0 8 0 257.2 260 105 95 23 69 0 155 6 0 13 1081 112 1.277 9.1 0.8 2.4 5.4 2.25 AS,CYA-2,MVP-14
1990 33 OAK AL 22 11 .667 2.56 36 36 0 11 4 267.0 226 84 76 16 83 1 166 5 0 8 1088 144 1.157 7.6 0.5 2.8 5.6 2.00 CYA-3,MVP-8
1991 34 OAK AL 11 11 .500 5.18 35 35 0 2 1 226.0 245 135 130 24 105 1 144 9 0 13 1014 74 1.549 9.8 1.0 4.2 5.7 1.37
1992 35 OAK AL 12 10 .545 3.66 31 31 0 2 0 199.1 175 96 81 25 79 1 130 8 1 3 838 102 1.274 7.9 1.1 3.6 5.9 1.65
1993 36 TOR AL 12 8 .600 4.44 26 26 0 0 0 162.0 146 86 80 23 72 0 96 4 1 4 687 98 1.346 8.1 1.3 4.0 5.3 1.33
1994 37 TOR AL 7 8 .467 5.87 22 22 0 1 0 133.1 151 89 87 26 62 4 111 4 0 6 602 82 1.598 10.2 1.8 4.2 7.5 1.79
1995 38 OAK AL 3 7 .300 6.89 16 16 0 0 0 81.0 101 65 62 11 39 1 58 2 1 8 381 63 1.728 11.2 1.2 4.3 6.4 1.49
16 Yrs 168 129 .566 3.95 523 348 87 55 9 2629.2 2499 1259 1154 264 1034 46 1741 62 23 119 11251 100 1.344 8.6 0.9 3.5 6.0 1.68
162 Game Avg. 13 10 .566 3.95 41 27 7 4 1 205 195 98 90 21 81 4 136 5 2 9 878 100 1.344 8.6 0.9 3.5 6.0 1.68
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
OAK (8 yrs) 119 78 .604 3.73 257 245 2 49 9 1717.1 1608 784 712 152 655 11 1152 42 18 79 7305 103 1.318 8.4 0.8 3.4 6.0 1.76
LAD (4 yrs) 18 13 .581 3.33 124 15 49 0 0 267.2 245 113 99 21 96 23 164 4 0 9 1134 106 1.274 8.2 0.7 3.2 5.5 1.71
TEX (3 yrs) 12 22 .353 4.44 82 40 31 5 0 332.2 329 174 164 41 141 8 207 8 1 18 1445 93 1.413 8.9 1.1 3.8 5.6 1.47
PHI (2 yrs) 0 0 6.48 12 0 5 0 0 16.2 20 13 12 1 8 0 11 0 3 3 78 62 1.680 10.8 0.5 4.3 5.9 1.38
TOR (2 yrs) 19 16 .543 5.09 48 48 0 1 0 295.1 297 175 167 49 134 4 207 8 1 10 1289 90 1.459 9.1 1.5 4.1 6.3 1.54
AL (13 yrs) 150 116 .564 4.00 387 333 33 55 9 2345.1 2234 1133 1043 242 930 23 1566 58 20 107 10039 99 1.349 8.6 0.9 3.6 6.0 1.68
NL (6 yrs) 18 13 .581 3.51 136 15 54 0 0 284.1 265 126 111 22 104 23 175 4 3 12 1212 101 1.298 8.4 0.7 3.3 5.5 1.68
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2013.

Much like Kendrick, Stewart did not start out as a full-time starter. In fact, he was a pretty good reliever early in his career, eventually turning into a pretty useful swing man.

He was a replacement-level-type player. Nothing more. Then, all of a sudden at age 30, just AFTER being traded by the Phillies to Oakland of course, Stew took off.

Like Kendrick, a change in his repertoire facilitated the reinvention. While Kendrick abandoned his cut fastball for the change-up, Stewart developed a devastating forkball that dove to the plate at the last moment.  Interestingly, his K-rate didn’t change a whole lot, nor did his walk rate, but his ERA came way down and Stewart turned into an innings-eating machine.

And although pitcher’s wins totals are not a true indicator of how good a pitcher’s performance truly is, it should be noted Stewart won more than 20 games four years on a row from 1987-1990.

It’s not an exact apples-to-apples comparison, but the reversal of fortunes, and the reinvention of the two pitchers, is kind of interesting. Both guys pitched numerous seasons perceived as one kind of pitcher. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they became much, much better pitchers.

Stewart was able to sustain his turnaround for over half a decade. We’ll see how long Kyle is able to sustain his.

Topics: Philadelphia Phillies

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