How can Phils improve rotation for 2014?
Kyle Kendrick finished the 2013 season 10-13 with a 4.70 ERA. (AP)
The Phillies' first losing season since 2002 is sure to bring wholesale changes in the offseason. But who should stay and who should go? Over the next two weeks, we're asking that very question and putting players under the microscope.
Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez are already penciled into the Phillies' 2014 starting rotation, so who will fill the remaining two openings? We've already looked at Roy Halladay (see story), and today we'll examine another right-hander:
Position: Starting pitcher
Status: Final year of arbitration; completed two-year, $7.5 million contract in 2013
Signature games of 2013
Kendrick pitched like an ace for a good chunk of the early going, but no performance was better than his three-hit shutout of the Mets on April 26. In the best game of his career, he struck out five, walked one and did not let a single runner get past second base. Not only that, it snapped a three-game losing streak and propelled the Phillies to a three-game sweep at Citi Field. With pinpoint control, the right-hander tossed 73 of 107 pitches for strikes.
KK hurled his second complete game, and fourth of his career, in a 7-2 win over the Marlins on June 3. In that one, he allowed two runs on six hits and struck out five. At that point he was beginning to look like a true top-of-the-rotation starter, with a 6-3 record and 3.12 ERA through a dozen starts.
Then Kendrick hit the skids. His ERA began to rise steadily, suffering its biggest spike on July 31 in a 9-2 loss to the Giants. Kendrick couldn't even get out of the third inning in that one, surrendering seven runs on eight hits in two frames.
Season as a whole
It was really a tale of two seasons for the right-hander. At the All-Star break, he was 8-6 with a 3.68 ERA. In the second half, he was terrible — 2-7 with a 6.91 ERA. Overall, he was nothing more than mediocre: 10-13, 4.70 ERA, 110 strikeouts and 47 walks in 182 innings.
Kendrick was scratched from a start on Sept. 17 and couldn't even finish out the season due to shoulder inflammation. It's unclear whether or not a nagging injury influenced his decline from the middle of the season onward. What is clear is that Kendrick was one of the Phils' best pitchers for the first three months and perhaps their worst in the final three.
Stay or go?
This one is really tough. The Phillies badly need rotation depth, and despite Kendrick's hot start in 2013, he regressed into what he's always been: a back-end starter who eats innings.
The right-hander is consistent and has pitched in at least 30 games in each season since 2010. He owns a respectable 4.24 ERA over that span and always generates a lot of ground balls, which is always a plus in Citizens Bank Park.
But it seems pretty clear, after seven big-league seasons, that you know what you're going to get from Kendrick, and it's nothing exciting. Ruben Amaro already said the Phillies are going to offer him a contract (see story). Is he worth something in the $7 million range he's likely to get in arbitration? Maybe. As long as it's nothing longer than a one-year deal, sure, bring back Kyle Kendrick.
What they're saying...
"My second half wasn't great, but I wasn't fully healthy. ... I've been in this position every year since I became arbitration eligible. Will I be traded? Non-tendered? It's kind of the same as in the past. Hopefully I'll be here. Knock on wood, I've been durable."
--Kyle Kendrick, Sept. 21
"Yes. I don't know why people are asking about that. We will."
--Ruben Amaro on if the Phillies will tender Kendrick a contract, Sept. 28