|Philadelphia Phillies – No. 38|
August 26, 1984 |
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|June 13, 2007 for the Philadelphia Phillies|
(through August 27, 2014)
|Earned run average||4.47|
|Career highlights and awards|
Kyle Rodney Kendrick (born August 26, 1984) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball (MLB). He was born in Houston, Texas, but attended high school in Mount Vernon, Washington. While growing up, he was greatly influenced by his father, from whom he developed his composure when pitching. Upon graduation, he turned down a scholarship to play college football, instead signing a contract to begin his professional baseball career in the Phillies organization. After a slow ascent through the lower levels of the Phillies' minor leagues, he made his MLB debut in 2007, and was a member of the starting rotation of the 2008 World Series Champion team.
Subsequently, he was demoted to the minor leagues to develop secondary pitches. From 2010 until 2012, his role on the big-league squad frequently fluctuated, but overall, was an underrated member of the pitching staff, according to several writers. Nevertheless, he drew the ire of the Phillies' fans, who were tired of his consistent inconsistency during the course of his career. After a successful 2012 campaign, however, he firmly implanted himself in the Phillies' starting rotation before the 2013 season. Again in 2013, though, he was inconsistent, and entering 2014, some suggested he should be traded to another team.
His pitching style is characterized by his poise on the mound that allows him to "go with the flow" of the game. He predominantly throws a sinker, and mixes in some secondary pitches in which he lacks confidence. He is married, has two children, and lives in Snohomish County, Washington during the offseason.
Born in Houston, Texas, Kendrick was a three-sport standout in football, basketball, and baseball at Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Washington. Throughout his adolescent athletic career, it was Kendrick's father Maury from whom Kendrick drew guidance and direction, particularly on how to conduct oneself during a game. Maury advised Kendrick to show as little emotion as possible when pitching, and is the one from whom Kendrick draws his composure while pitching. Kendrick and his father discuss pitching before and after every one of Kendrick's starts, which Maury watches from Seattle, Washington, and in 2013, Maury was part of the Phillies' Fathers Day celebration, a celebration of his guidance of Kendrick.
Minor leagues: 2003–2006
The Phillies drafted Kendrick in the seventh round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft, which made Kendrick reject a football scholarship offer to Washington State University. He began his career in the lower levels of the minor league system, and struggled mightily. A feature article in Phillies magazine noted,
His first three seasons, in the Gulf Coast League, and various Class A stops, weren't encouraging. He was a combined 10-28 with a 5.27 ERA (earned run average). He allowed 356 hits in 286.2 innings. There were some steps forward, some steps back—Excerpt from Special K, by Paul Hagen in Phillies, June 2013
Early in his career, many within the organization questioned his work ethic and maturity, which they thought may have contributed to his underachievement. In 2006, however, the Phillies "patience was ... rewarded"; pitching for the Lakewood BlueClaws for the third consecutive season, he earned Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Month accolades for May, thus warranting a promotion to the Clearwater Threshers. In 20 starts with Clearwater, he posted a 3.53 ERA, among the best in the Florida State League. This performance as well as the fact that he spent significant time working out and focusing on mechanical improvement allayed the previous fears of poor work ethic. Ultimately, 2007 would be his last in the low levels of the Phillies' minor leagues, as he began the season with the Double-A (AA) Reading Phillies, and finished it with the big league club.
Breaking through: 2007–2009
Despite several options at Triple-A (AAA), when Freddy Garcia got hurt, Pat Gillick promoted Kendrick to the major leagues, which drew skepticism, as Kendrick was just 22 years old, and had not pitched particularly well for Reading. However, according to Steve Noworyta, Phillies assistant director of player development, Kendrick's "mound presence and his maturity", as well as the fact that "nothing really seemed to bother him" contributed to his promotion. His MLB debut came on June 13 against the Chicago White Sox at Citizens Bank Park. He pitched six innings and gave up three runs, receiving a no-decision in an 8–4 Phillies' victory. He pitched the second game of the 2007 National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies, which the Phillies lost, en route to being swept in the series. He finished the season with a 10–4 win-loss record and a 3.87 ERA in 121 MLB innings pitched. He came in fifth place, ultimately losing to Ryan Braun, in 2007 National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.
Before the 2008 season, Kendrick was a victim of an "elaborate practical joke" executed by Brett Myers that had Kendrick convinced he had been traded away to Japan. During the season, Kendrick's performance slipped; he posted a 5.49 ERA in 30 starts. Despite his relative ineffectiveness, the Phillies won the 2008 World Series, and though he was left off the postseason roster, Kendrick received a World Series ring, and co-authored a diary from the series. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee attributed the decline to hitters discerning that Kendrick threw predominantly a sinker, and almost always in the strike zone, thus fostering predictability for hitters. As such, he spent the majority of the 2009 season in the minor leagues, working on developing his change up, which proved to be an arduous process. Ultimately, after learning a new grip from Justin Lehr, he had a eureka moment during a bullpen session in 2009, he developed the pitch, and made it back to the major leagues "for good" near the conclusion of the season.
An undefined role: 2010–2012
The Phillies acquired Roy Halladay prior to the 2010 season, and during spring training, Kendrick sought the mentorship of Halladay, whom he aspired to emulate during his high school career. Halladay willingly obliged, and teammates endearingly referred to Kendrick as "Little Roy" due to the amount of time he spent working with Halladay. Despite initially losing a competition for the fifth spot in the Phillies starting rotation during spring training to Jamie Moyer, an injury to Joe Blanton thrust Kendrick into the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation, the fourth consecutive year during which he had held that role for at least a short time. After a decent first half of the 2011 season (at the end of June, he had a 4–4 record with a 3.23 ERA), Kendrick was briefly demoted to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA), but did not make any starts there, as Moyer's season ended due to injury, causing Kendrick's recall. Overall, he earned 11 wins, which tied a career high, and started 31 games, which set a new career high, while, in total, posting an 11–10 record with a 4.73 ERA in 1802⁄3 innings pitched. Pat Gallen, editor in chief of Phillies Nation, opined that Kendrick's performance indicated he would never exceed being an average, "run-of-the-mill starting pitcher", who would never exceed that role. At the conclusion of the season, Kendrick and the Phillies avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, US$2,450,000 contract.
Kendrick's inconsistency continued in 2011, when he "flip-flopped between the rotation and the bullpen all season", performing as a spot starter and long reliever. His starts came during injuries to Blanton and Roy Oswalt, the latter of whom was a member of the "phour aces" that comprised the front-end of the Phillies' starting rotation (Oswalt, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels). When making those spot starts, he was able to "keep the team in the game". During the season, he improved against left-handed hitters, performed strongly against divisional opponents, and posted a career-best 3.22 ERA. Overall, he totaled 34 appearances, 15 of which were starts, and recorded an 8–6 record in 1142⁄3 innings pitched. Again eligible for arbitration, this year, he signed a one-year, US$3,585,000 pact with Philadelphia.
Once again, Kendrick was not a member of the opening day starting rotation, as Blanton and Vance Worley rounded out the final two spots after Hamels, Halladay, and Lee. However, once again, he joined the rotation due to injury, this season to Worley. He was a member of the rotation from the end of April to the beginning of July, in a relief role until the beginning of August, and then in the rotation for the remainder of the season. Ultimately, Kendrick started 25 games of a career-high 37 appearances. He was especially strong after the all-star game, posting a 3.15 ERA and nine wins, the latter of which was tied for first in the National League. He also continued his success against NL East teams, posting a 3.25 ERA against them. Though he had much success, he remained inconsistent, playing "the role Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personified" – in 17 of his starts, he allowed two or fewer earned runs, and posted a combined 1.73 ERA in those starts, while in the eight starts during which he surrendered more than two earned runs, he posted a 10.40 ERA.
Middle-of-the-rotation starter: 2013–present
Thanks to his strong finish in 2012, Kendrick entered spring training assured of a spot in the Phillies' Opening Day starting rotation for the first time in five years and spent his first full season exclusively a member of the major league starting rotation. His 2013 season took the opposite trajectory of his 2012 campaign; he held a 4–1 record with a 2.47 ERA in his first eight starts, while he posted a 6–12 record with a 5.65 ERA in his final 22 starts. Some suggested that because Kendrick is a contact pitcher (i.e., he focuses on getting outs via batters hitting the ball rather than striking out), his career-worst batting average on balls in play indicated horrendous defense was the primary reason for his downturn, not necessarily poor pitching. However, both were likely contributing factors. On September 18, he was scratched from his scheduled start due to right rotator cuff tendinitis, which may have contributed to his poor pitching down the stretch. It was the first time in Kendrick's career he missed a start due to injury. He had initially planned on making his next start, but the Phillies announced on September 20 that Kendrick had been shut down for the remainder of the season after receiving a second opinion on the injury. The team placed him on the disabled list for his first career stint and Zach Miner took his spot in the rotation. Overall, he posted 10–13 with a 4.70 ERA in 182 innings pitched.
At the conclusion of the 2013 season, there was suggestion that the Phillies should re-sign Kendrick insofar as he would serve as a useful player to trade around the trade deadline for a prospect or two, as durable, mediocre starters are always in demand around that time. Contradictorily, one scout suggested that because he throws strikes with great frequency and has a propensity to induce groundballs, he would be a strong value option for the Phillies. Ultimately, the Phillies agreed with the latter, and signed him to a one-year, US$7,675,000 contract in the final year before he is eligible to be a free agent.
When Kendrick was first promoted to the major leagues, he relied almost exclusively on a sinker, but as he became more predictable, he had to adjust by adding pitches, including the changeup, cutter, and curveball that now comprise his repertoire. He throws from a slightly deceptive, deliberate windup, and his sinker ranges anywhere from 87 miles per hour (140 km/h) to 93 miles per hour (150 km/h). He lacks requisite confidence in his secondary pitches, however, which contributes to batters being able to consistently make solid contact against him.
Although they have improved throughout his career, Kendrick has had horrible peripheral statistics, including WAR, FIP and BABIP. Because he manages to stay competitive on the mound and do his job, most assert that the poor peripheral statistics do not matter for him. When pitching, he maintains constant equanimity and seeks to avoid showing emotion, a trait he learned from his father and has embodied since playing Little League Baseball. He credits his composure as the reason he is able to consistently "go with the flow", and avoid being flustered, even in adverse situations.
In 2009, Kendrick became engaged to Survivor contestant Stephenie LaGrossa. They were married at the Silverado Resort in Napa, California, on November 13, 2010. Kendrick and LaGrossa had their first child, a daughter named Sophia Marguerite on September 3, 2011, and their second child, a son named Kyle Jr., on July 30, 2013. In March 2011, his home was burglarized; among the stolen items was his World Series ring. Subsequently, the ring was found in a swampy area of Bothell, Washington, by Snohomish County Sheriff's deputies. His pitching intro music is "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. Among his hobbies are golf and fantasy football.
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- Fraley, Gerry; Crasnick, Jerry; Miller, Sam; Miller, Scott; et. al. (January 2014). "Baseball 2014 Preview". In O'Neill, Shane. Lindy's Sports (Birmingham, Alabama: J. Lindy Davis, Jr. - D.M.D. Publications): 146–47.
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- Klein, Michael (July 14, 2009). "Kyle Kendrick and Stephenie LaGrossa are engaged". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
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- "Philadelphia Phillies Ballpark Music". phillies.com: Fan Forum. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)