Kendrick did get himself back on track Tuesday night and lengthened the length of his leash with the Phillies by throwing eight shutout innings against Atlanta. Unfortunately for Kendrick, the Phillies bullpen squandered the lead and eventually lost the game. The meltdown ruined what was a pretty impressive outing for Kendrick, who needed an outing just like that as he fights to hold onto that roster spot that he deserved coming out of camp.
Seemingly out of the blue, Kendrick pitched a gem after seeing his ERA erupt to over 17 in his first two starts. His eight inning revelation dropped his ERA down to 7.24 and rather than opponents hitting .444 against him, they're now hitting .333 against Kendrick this season. There was no reason to believe, based on his previous outings that Kendrick was in line for a start like this.
Kendrick's turn around has twisted the discussion about the Phillies pitching. With Kendrick and Jamie Moyer both struggling and J.A. Happ dealing with a sore forearm, there was concern about the rotation and Kendrick was at the top of the list of pitchers to lose their roster spot once either starter Joe Blanton or relievers J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge are healthy enough to be activated.
|Lehigh Valley IronPigs' catcher Paul Hoover caught Kyle Kendrick much of last season and also worked with him in camp this past spring. Hoover wasn't surprised that Kendrick threw eight strong innings against Atlanta Tuesday night.|
(Photo: Philly Baseball News)
For his part, Hoover believes that Kendrick just needs to settle in and have confidence in himself. "Hopefully, he can build on this," said Hoover. "People say 'no cutter and no sinker', but he can throw them well enough to get hitters out. He just has to rely on what he's got and he'll be fine."
Meanwhile, Hoover was also optimistic about J.C. Romero, who he has now caught three times during Romero's rehab assignment. "He [Romero] has action on all of his pitches. His sinker is really good," reported Hoover. "The other day, he threw more change-ups and some good sliders, but today, it was more sinkers. The more he gets out there, the more feel he'll get for his pitching."
Romero may make one more rehab assignment with Lehigh Valley - most likely on Thursday night - before he heads back to the Phillies bullpen forcing a change to the roster. Closer Brad Lidge is also scheduled to make a rehab appearance with Lehigh Valley Thursday night, but his return to the Phillies will likely come later than Romero's return.
Either way, roster changes are likely on the way for the pitching staff. And at this point, Kendrick has given himself a chance to avoid being part of those moves, which isn't too surprising to Hoover.