Kyle Kendrick has taken a lot of heat in this town. And plenty of times he's deserved it. But for those who love to rip KK after he gets bashed around by the Braves, you've got to give him his props when he puts together one of those crazy-weird hot streaks.
Or maybe they're not so weird. As you're likely aware, Kendrick hasn't allowed a run in his two most recent starts, including 8.0 real solid innings of work in Sunday's win for the series split in Milwaukee. His current 15-inning scoreless streak is actually his second best such streak of this season. He put together 22-straight scoreless innings spanning all of July.
So what's been making Kendrick so streaky? Crashburn Alley's Bill Baer does a real nice job this morning digging into the numbers. The quick and dirty: Kendrick's been getting people to strikeout at a much higher clip in 2012 and he's doing it in part by keeping hitters more off balance by using his chang eup more frequently.
Why has Kendrick, with the career 12 percent strikeout rate and 4.84
xFIP, shown flashes of brilliance so far this year? The most obvious
answer is that Kendrick vastly improved his ability to miss bats.
Entering the season, Kendrick’s K-rate was just over 11 percent and
peaked at 13.4 percent in 2009, a 26.1-inning season. This year,
Kendrick has struck out 17 percent of the batters he’s faced. Since
Kendrick will likely finish somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 total
batters faced, that comes out to about 35 extra outs, relative to his
career average, that don’t rely on luck or defenders converting a batted
ball into an out.
Baer digs into the wOBAs and the xFIPs even further for an interesting read, or if funny quips are more of your thing, you can check out Charlie's line on Kendrick after yesterday's win.
“Kyle did good, man,” Manuel said. “He got Braun out. He should get a medal for that.”
That's not to say Kendrick is suddenly going to become one of the Phillies' aces, but he's certainly become a serviceable fifth starter, especially when he's grooving, and he's not nearly as bad as some people make him out to be at times. You have to give him some credit for dealing with the yo-yo'ing back and forth between starter and reliever. Hopefully he can continue to settle into the rotation with continued success.