Why The Phillies Need Kyle Kendrick

Rob Foldy

I don't like this any more than you do. But the Phillies need Kyle Kendrick.

Kyle Kendrick has been pitching in Major League baseball games for the Phillies since 2007. And after games like Wednesday night's 14-5 loss to the Marlins in Miami, it sometimes seems a lot longer than that.

Kendrick, the team's #4 starter, simply didn't have it two nights ago. The Marlins pounded his mediocre stuff for 5 2/3 innings, scoring six runs on seven hits and two walks, as Kendrick struck out just three Miami batters. It wasn't pretty.

He has now not won a baseball game in his last 16 appearances, dating back to last year, and has given up at least three earned runs in seven of his nine starts (although in four of those starts, it was just three runs each time). And there's this...

Those numbers are not very good.

You're probably as sick as I am of the inconsistency of Kyle Kendrick. He has shown spurts of productivity, such as the first 13 starts of last year in which he posted a 3.22 ERA. But since that time, and in dozens of starts prior to that, we've seen a less-than-great Kendrick get knocked around when his sinker isn't sinking and his changeup isn't "changing."

Still, until Wednesday night, Kendrick hadn't pitched terribly through his first six starts of 2014. Going into last night, he had a 3.96 ERA, which ranked 66th out of 113 MLB starters, and 39th out of 60 NL starting pitchers (although his FIP of 4.78 indicated his ERA probably should have been a bit higher). Those are pretty typical rankings for a #4 starter, non-2011 Phillies division.

Wednesday night's horror show certainly must be taken into account, and Lawrence was correct in trumpeting those Kendrick stats. They are real and they are unspectacular. But on most Major League staffs, the #4 starter is going to have a game here and there that is particularly hairy. And that's what you saw the other night.

But here is the main problem confronting the Phillies right now. They have no choice but to live with the frustrating inconsistency of Kyle Kendrick. They have no choice this year, and don't be surprised if the Phils re-sign him in the off-season when he becomes a free agent for the first time.

You want a replacement for the back end of the rotation? Here are some of your potential free agent options. Some of them may be more palatable, but would also probably cost a little more and require a longer commitment than re-signing Kendrick.

Chris Capuano, Kevin Correia, Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Gavin Floyd, Jason Hammel, Aaron Harang, Luke Hochevar, Hiroki Kuroda, Colby Lewis, Paul Maholm, Brandon McCarthy, Wandy Rodriguez, Edinson Volquez, Carlos Villanueva and Ryan Vogelsong.

Sure, there are a couple front-of-the-rotation guys, like James Shields, Max ScherzerJon Lester, and Josh Beckett, but we're talking about huge free agent contracts with those guys. They are not viable Kendrick replacements.

The absence of quality starting pitching prospects in the Phils' system also makes it more of a reality that Kendrick is going to be a Phillie past this year, unless someone like Jesse Biddle catches fire as the season goes along, or if Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez makes substantial strides as the 2014 season progresses.

As much as some may not like the idea of Kyle Kendrick pitching for the Phils beyond this season, and as frustrating as he can be to watch sometimes, the Phillies need him right now. The cupboard is bare. The Phils need Kendrick to pitch for them, with the hope there are fewer games like Wednesday night's in store for them the rest of the season.

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