For the past 8 seasons, Kyle Kendrick has by far been the least appreciated pitcher on the Philadelphia Phillies roster, at least among the fan base.
Now those fans won’t have KK to kick around any more. The 30-year old agreed to a one-year contract for $5.5 million yesterday with the Colorado Rockies. Many may say “Good riddance!” Those same folks could be wishing he were back here before long.
Kendrick was the Phillies 7th round choice in the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft as an 18-year old just out of high school in Washington state. He rose incrementally through the Phils minor league system, first making his mark at Low-A Batavia in the 2005 season.
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By 2006, Kendrick was breaking out at Clearwater and Lakewood. He combined for a 12-9 record that year with a 3.17 ERA, allowing just 151 hits in 176 innings pitched. After some finishing work over a dozen starts at AA Reading in 2007, he finally got a call to the big leagues.
Kendrick made his Phillies debut on June 13th, 2007, going 6 solid innings against the Chicago White Sox at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed 6 hits and 3 earned runs, striking out 4 and walking 2 in a no-decision during an 8-4 win for the team.
He remained a part of the rotation for the rest of the season as the Phillies rallied in September to win the first of five consecutive NL East crowns. Over 20 starts, Kendrick went at least 6 innings in 19 of them. He finished up his rookie year with a 10-4 record and a 3.87 ERA over 121 innings.
Despite being with the Phillies during almost the entirety of their dominant run over the next few years, Kendrick would make his only ever postseason appearance in those 2007 playoffs, lasting just 3.2 innings in a 10-5 loss to the same Rockies with whom he has now signed.
Despite spending most of the 2009 season at AAA Lehigh Valley, Kendrick would be a part of the Phillies pitching staff for the next 7 seasons, including as a member of the 2008 World Series champions. He went 11-9 over 30 starts that championship year, but did not appear at all in the postseason.
Kendrick married “Survivor” and local girl Stephenie LaGrossa in 2010
(Photo: Catherine Hall Studios)
In total, Kyle Kendrick appeared in 226 games over his 8 Phillies seasons, making 185 starts. He fashioned a 74-68 record with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.367 WHIP, with a 622-323 K/BB ratio. While never a top starter, KK became a reliable innings-eater on the back-end of the Phils rotation.
Kendrick also had a bit of a celebrity angle to his story. On November 13th, 2010 the Phils pitcher married Stephenie LaGrossa, a 3-time participant and one of the most popular players all-time on the “Survivor” reality TV show. The two now have a daughter and a son together.
The Rockies have long been known to have pitching problems in their organization. Much of the problem is not the pitchers themselves, but the environment of their home ballpark. Coors Field is located in Denver, the Mile-High City. The elevation causes the ball to carry more easily, flattens out pitcher’s breaking balls, and has weakened many a hurler’s will power over the decades.
A sinker-ball specialist like Kendrick, someone who can keep the ball down and get hitters to beat the ball into the ground rather than put it up in the air, is generally considered a better bet for success in Colorado. That repertoire, and his overall experience pitching for a winning organization, is what the Rockies are after with him.