Kyle Kendrick: Ready For Philadelphia?

The Phillies came into the season with six starting pitchers. It never really figured that Kyle Kendrick, who started the season at Double-A, would be needed. Now though, he's in Philadelphia for his first major league start. So, is he ready for this?

Kyle Kendrick made huge strides in the winter between the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He knew he was at a crossroads and had to figure the right way to further his career. Drastic times call for drastic measures and Kendrick took that message to heart. He dropped his curve and picked up a slider; the change was almost instant and it's provided Kendrick with an opportunity to pitch in the majors well before it was thought he would be there.

There were other options for the Phillies. J.D. Durbin, Zack Segovia and others are at Triple-A and seemingly ready to go. In fact, Segovia made a start early in the season for the Phillies before Freddy Garcia returned from his original stint on the disabled list. Instead, the Phillies looked to Kendrick. Why? Simply because their minor league people thought he was throwing the best of any of the pitchers under consideration and that he was ready for a shot.

Perhaps it's a cruel joke or perhaps, a foretelling of fortunes, but Kendrick's arrival was greeted with a jersey bearing the number 38. That number was worn previously by Curt Schilling, a fan favorite in Philadelphia. "I'd take half the career he's had," Kendrick said.

Kendrick excelled at Double-A Reading by throwing strikes. In 81.1 innings, most among Phillies minor league pitchers, he has walked only 18 batters. His control since picking up the slider has been a major part of his turn around and will be a big part of his story with the Phillies.

Kyle Kendrick's career stats

'03 Gulf Coast 0 4 5.46 0 9 5 31.1 40 24 19 3 12 26
'04 Lakewood 3 8 6.08 0 15 15 66.2 85 56 45 9 33 36
'04 Batavia 2 8 5.48 0 13 12 70.2 94 52 43 6 18 53
'05 Lakewood 0 3 9.13 0 5 5 22.2 38 24 23 2 10 11
'05 Clearwater 0 1 0.00 0 1 1 4.0 5 1 0 0 2 1
'05 Batavia 5 4 3.74 0 14 14 91.1 94 49 38 7 22 70
'06 Lakewood 3 2 2.15 0 7 7 46.0 34 14 11 0 15 54
'06 Clearwater 9 7 3.53 0 21 20 130.0 117 59 51 15 37 79
'07 Reading 4 3 3.21 0 12 12 81.1 82 38 29 3 18 50
TOTALS 26 40 4.28 0 97 91 544.0 589 317 259 45 167 380

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies out of Mount Vernon High School in the 7th round of the 2003 Draft.

Repertoire: Kendrick has a low-90s fastball that he moves through the strike zone. His slider is new, but it's become a definite strength in his arsenal and he'll use it in almost any situation. His change-up is average and won't do a lot to keep hitters off strides, but it at least keeps them honest and away from sitting on his fastball.

Pitching: He's known for pitching deep into games and had a complete game at Reading earlier this season. Most of his bad numbers came early in his career and in his last 53 starts dating back to late in the 2005 season, Kendrick has an ERA around the 3.35 mark. He keeps the ball down in the zone and has allowed just 18 homeruns in his last 257.1 innings of work (0.6 per nine innings of work).

What to expect: Do not be at all surprised or alarmed if Kendrick gets himself into trouble early. Even at Reading, the first inning wasn't kind to him (6.00 ERA and opponents batting average of .302) and when you add the understandable nerves to the situation, it's a recipe for trouble. Kendrick's numbers excel from there and he is the type of pitcher who can definitely get stronger as the game goes on. It would be a surprise if he were to get blown away, but if he can shake off the jitters, it won't be a surprise to see him give the Phillies at least five good innings, which isn't all that bad for a guy in Kendrick's position.

AUDIO EXTRA: Hear Kyle Kendrick talk about his career and other issues in our audio extra. These audio files come from the April 14, 2007 edition of Philly Baseball News Radio when Kyle was a gues on the show and talked about his career.

Pitching at Double-A: Kyle Kendrick talks about making the jump to Double-A and how it's different from the lower levels of the minors.

The Importance of Command: Kendrick talks about how important it is for him to have his command.

The Electric Slider: In this cut, Kendrick talks about how he learned the slider and the difference it's made in his career.

Eat Your Innings: Finally, Kendrick talks about pitching deep into games and the fact that he felt strongest late in the season last year.

Philly Baseball News Radio can be heard on AM 1230 and 1320 in Easton, PA Saturday mornings at 9:00 a.m.

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