Kyle Kendrick pitched another gem Tuesday night in San Diego to earn his seventh win of the season. He got into trouble in the second inning but allowed just two runs over eight innings, had six strikeouts and no walks, and generated 17 groundballs.
Through 16 starts, Kendrick has a 3.46 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. The only NL pitchers with 16 starts who have tossed more innings than Kendrick are aces Cliff Lee, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Harvey.
Additionally, only Lee, Wainwright, Kershaw, Harvey and Madison Bumgarner have more starts than Kendrick this year of at least seven innings and seven or fewer baserunners.
The main reason Kendrick has been able to pitch so deep into games and keep up with the top pitchers in the league is his ability to keep the ball on the ground. He’s induced a major-league leading 186 groundballs this season –- an average of 12 per start.
His line-drive rate of 16.6 percent is also the lowest in the NL among pitchers with at least 15 starts.
Kendrick gets batters out earlier than practically every pitcher in the NL. His 3.54 pitches per plate appearance rank third in the league behind Bronson Arroyo and Jordan Zimmermann.
Somehow, Kendrick has induced just two double plays all season. In an odd way, that’s actually impressive for the sheer fact that Kendrick has been able to so quickly end plate appearances and innings without the added help of two outs on one play.
And the granddaddy of them all, for a pitcher who from 2007-10 was among the worst in the game against left-handed hitters: Only six NL righties this season have a lower opponents’ batting average vs. lefties than Kendrick (.230).
Kendrick has been better against lefties than Zimmermann, Wainwright, Mat Latos, Shelby Miller, A.J. Burnett, Kris Medlen and Lance Lynn.
It’s more than just a good local story of a once-mediocre pitcher’s development. It’s a legitimate All-Star résumé Kendrick has built. He's unlikely to make the team because of the sheer depth of starting pitching talent in the NL, but Bruce Bochy could do much worse than selecting a successful groundballer who can get you out of a jam with one pitch.