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Uh Oh, Kyle Kendrick Is Bad Again


Aug 11, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) throws during the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

You know, for a while there, it really seemed like Kyle Kendrick had become a different pitcher.

He had become the “good” Kyle Kendrick. You know, the one who always wears white, saves orphans from burning buildings and strikes out batters at a rate higher than he ever had before. He had become a Kyle Kendrick who was the most consistent starter on the staff for the first two months of the season, the one who truly looked like a #3 starter in a playoff-caliber rotation.

Lately, that Kyle Kendrick has been replaced by the “bad” Kyle Kendrick, the one who always wears black, steals little kids’ lollypops, and leaves hittable pitches in the middle of the plate for hitters to destroy. He is once again the undependable Kyle Kendrick, the one who looks like nothing more than a #5 starter/long-man out of the ‘pen.

In other words, Kyle Kendrick has become this guy…

Boo “bad” Kyle Kendrick.

The 2013 Phillies aren’t fighting for a playoff spot, so his performance in last night’s 6-0 loss to the Nationals, in which he went 4 1/3 innings and gave up 11 hits and 6 runs (4 of them earned) and increased his ERA to 4.48, doesn’t do anything other than to help guarantee a protected first-round draft pick for the Phils in the top 10 of next year’s MLB Draft.

But as the Phils try to map out their rotation for 2014, they have a big decision to make regarding Kendrick. And with his lackluster pitching, Kendrick could potentially be costing himself a lot of money by all of a sudden becoming crappy once again.

Unless Cliff Lee is shockingly traded before the end of this month or in the off-season, the Phils are going to have a rotation headed by Lee and Cole Hamels in 2014. The status of Cuban defector Miguel Gonzalez remains unclear, and no one is really sure if Roy Halladay will be a part of the ’14 rotation, even as signs point to an encouraging bullpen session this weekend. John Lannan could also be back as a cheap #5 starter, although it’s doubtful anyone has the stomach for anymore Lannan starts.

Kendrick has done a lot of this lately. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It had been assumed that Kendrick would be a part of the ’14 rotation, most likely as a #3 or #4 starter. That made sense when he had a 3.12 ERA in his first 12 starts. But his recent inconsistency has made the decision to keep him both a lot harder, and a little easier.

Kendrick is earning $4.5 million this season in the last year of a two-year deal. He is eligible for arbitration and, it was assumed he would get a raise in the $7-8 million range for 2014. If that number is still accurate, does it still make sense for the Phils to earmark that much money for a guy who seems to have wild swings of inconsistency?

Can they afford $7-8 million for a wildly unpredictable Kyle Kendrick?

If Kendrick keeps pitching like he has over his last 12 starts, perhaps he won’t be up for such as significant raise. But even if he makes $6 million, that’s still a lot of money to pay for a starter as inconsistent as Kendrick.

His recent struggles have almost certainly tabled any discussion over a longer-term extension for Kyle. It wouldn’t have been at all surprising to see the Phils offer him a three-year deal in the $20 million range this off-season if he had been able to keep his ERA in check. But that kind of offer is almost certainly not going to happen now.

At least, it shouldn’t.

Crashburn Alley and CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman both wrote about Kendrick’s struggles after his previous outing. Simply put, he’s lost his command and is leaving too many pitches in the “hit-me” zone. Even if he can somehow recover and pitch better over the last month and a half of the season, his recent bout with inconsistency may be enough to scare the Phillies off of any long-term deal.

The “bad” Kyle Kendrick is costing the “good” Kyle Kendrick a lot of money.