OK, we’re through the looking glass now, people. Kyle Kendrick has become the Phillies’ stopper.
Kendrick, who is unquestionably the best starting pitcher on the staff right now, once again pitched brilliantly in last night’s 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. The team’s #4 starter pitched 7 innings and gave up just 2 earned runs on 7 hits, lowering his rotation-best ERA to 2.43. He is now 3-1 on the season, leading to a statistic that I don’t think anyone could have comprehended a little more than a month into the 2013 season.
There is no other phrase to describe that other than “mind bottling.” My mind is literally bottled right now. It is trapped in a glass bottle of amazement.
May 2, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Marlins 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Kendrick is no doubt providing tremendous value to the Phillies, and has been their most consistent starting pitcher since entering the rotation full-time last August. In his last 16 starts, Kendrick is 10-4 with 2.43 ERA.
So, although the thought seems ludicrous, Kyle Kendrick is now the Phils’ stopper, even if he doesn’t feel sure he deserves the title.
"“I don’t look at myself as a stopper,” Kendrick said. “I’m just trying to pitch a quality game and give us a chance to win.”"
Oh, and most people don’t realize this but, Kendrick is one year younger than Cole Hamels.
Kyle joined the big league roster in 2007, and even pitched in their first-round playoff loss to the Colorado Rockies that year, at age 22. Now 28, Kendrick seems to be entering the prime of his career pitching better than he ever has.
"“I’ve always kind of expected this out of me,” Kendrick said. “I know it hasn’t been there in the past like I’ve wanted, the fans have wanted, my teammates, the coaches, the organization, but I expect this out of me. Hopefully, now I can be consistent like that and give us a chance to win the game. That’s the main thing as a starting pitcher. I’m feeling comfortable and confident I can do that every time out.” – quote per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury"
Offensively, Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown led the way. Brown hit a solo homer in the second inning last night, getting the Phils’ on the board early. He finished 3 for 4 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs, while Howard also hit a homer, an opposite-field shot that barely cleared the left-field wall, and also walked twice, one of them intentionally.
Howard may be heating up, now hitting .326 (14-for-43) with four doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs in his last 12 games. It was also the first time Howard hit a home run and walked twice in the same game since September 9, 2011 against Milwaukee.
The Phillies are now 8-2 against Miami and the Mets, and are 5-14 against everyone else. And despite being 13-16, the Phils are still just 4 1/2 games out of first place, despite featuring the worst offensive outfield in the National League and their #4 starter being their best starting pitcher to date.
Where It All Went Right
When Erik Kratz worked an 11-pitch walk to open the bottom of the fifth inning. The Phils were ahead 2-1, but his walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt by Kendrick and then eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Chase Utley, gave the Phils a two-run cushion. The Phils would tack on another run in that inning and then add three more runs in the eighth to blow the game open. But that at-bat from Kratz are the kinds of at-bats that can start rallies, provided the hitters behind him actually produce with runners on base. Playing against Miami’s shaky defense doesn’t hurt either.
Kendrick, who is pitching better than anyone had a right to expect him to pitch. It’ll be interesting to see how Ruben Amaro handles Kendrick’s contract over the next year and a half. He cannot become a free agent until after the 2015 season, but if he keeps this up, his arbitration number is going to be a rather large one.
Justin Ruggiano, who hit a home run off Kendrick. Really, other than the absent Giancarlo Stanton, there really isn’t anyone else to be worried about on the Marlins, making it tough to find a “bad guy.”