Kyle Kendrick is not doing himself any favors.
For five innings last night, Kendrick had given up just one run to the Mets, reminding everyone of his early season success this year. Then it all fell apart as Kendrick, hurt by some shaky defense by first baseman Kevin Frandsen, gave up a bases-clearing triple to the opposing pitcher, Jonathan Niese in a four-run sixth, sending the Phils to a 5-0 defeat at the hands of the Mets at Citi Field.
Kendrick also walked Niese in the third inning, which led to New York’s first run of the night.
As Kendrick continues to struggle, questions have morphed from whether or not to sign Kendrick to a contract extension to whether the Phillies even want him on the team at all in 2014.
I can tell you which way I’m leaning.
Of course, even if Kyle had been brilliant last night, it wouldn’t have mattered. The offense could do nothing against the left-hander Niese, who shut down a righty-heavy Phils lineup in a complete game, three-hit shutout. And Michael Young had two of those hits.
Out of the lineup was third baseman Cody Asche, who had been red-hot coming into the game. He got the night off against a tough lefty so that Sandberg could get more right-handers in the lineup. Those right-handers went 3 for 19 against Niese. And after the game, Sandberg noted that the Phils’ .232 average against left-handers and .675 OPS against (both of which rank 12th in the National League) are particularly worrisome with a lineup that is in dire need of some right-handed thunder.
“Our numbers all year against left-handed pitching are not impressive,” Sandberg said. “That’s something that needs to be addressed. For sure, [we need] right-handed bats. We have some left-handed hitters that can show some improvement there. As a team, we have struggled against left-handed pitching.”
And while Darin Ruf has been a pleasant surprise in right field, and Maikel Franco continues to impress in AA Reading, the Phils’ struggles against lefties are one of the reasons Ruben Amaro may be tempted to investigate the possibility of signing a free agent like the suspended Nelson Cruz. Or, Sandberg could end up going with multiple platoon situations in 2014 as well.
But with so many positions already set for 2014, it’s questionable just how the Phils would be able to cram any more right-handed hitters into the everyday lineup next year.
Regardless, speculation didn’t do the Phillies any favors last night. Jonathan Niese was on his game and there was nothing the Phils’ right-handed hitters could do about it.