Kendrick Keeps Getting Better and Better

Kyle Kendrick developed a slider coming into last season and it provided him with a better way of getting hitters out. This season, he's finding that it works well against Double-A hitters as well.

Kyle Kendrick was always a good pitcher, but it just seemed like there was something missing. Through his first three seasons in the Phillies minor league system, Kendrick had struggled to get higher than Batavia, posting a 9.13 ERA at Lakewood to start the season. He was returned to Batavia and pitched better, but should have been at least a level higher and possibly as high as Clearwater.

After the season, Kendrick did a little reassessing and came up with a game plan. He decided to scrap throwing a curve ball and picked up a slider that he had experimented with in the past, but never really dedicated himself to. Once he went to work on truly learning how to throw the pitch, Kendrick was somewhat amazed at how well it was going. "It was a great move [picking up the slider]. I just feel more comfortable throwing the slider," said Kendrick.

The results last season were definite.

Starting the year at Lakewood, Kendrick was 3-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 7 starts for the BlueClaws early in the season before earning a promotion to Clearwater where he spent the rest of the year. With the Threshers, Kendrick posted a 3.53 ERA in 20 starts. He also threw a career-high number of innings (176) in his two stops and said that he felt pretty good late in the season. "I felt great. The last month of the season was actually when I felt the best," said Kendrick. Perhaps a trip to the Arizona Fall League was a bit much as Kendrick admits that he had a bit of a dead arm pitching in the desert.

Kendrick is right about his late season burst. Over August and September - 7 appearances - Kendrick posted a 1.85 ERA, averaging over six innings per game.

At 22, Kendrick's slow start isn't such a horrible thing. Starting this season at Double-A has him in good shape to make it to the majors at an early age and have a long, productive career in the majors. Plus, now that he's armed with a slider, Kendrick could push things a little as everything starts to fall into place.

In his first two starts of the season, Kendrick is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA and has gone six innings in each of his first two starts for the R-Phils. He hasn't found the jump to Double-A to be all that tough. "I actually find it easier to get ahead up here [at Double-A], but you can't make a mistake or they'll take you deep," said Kendrick. "I haven't found it that tough, so far."

Possibly the only regret from last season that Kendrick could have is that he missed out on the pennant run by the Lakewood BlueClaws. He was there for the down part of the season when the BlueClaws struggled, but was pitching at Clearwater when the 'Claws made their run at the South Atlantic League Championship. "That was a bummer," laughed Kendrick. "Your goal as a player though is to move up, so I was happy about that and happy for the guys that were there."

Audio Extra: Hear the Philly Baseball News Radio interview with Kyle Kendrick: .

Philly Baseball News Radio is hosted by Chuck Hixson and can be heard Saturday mornings on 1230 and 1320 ESPN of the Lehigh Valley in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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