When the season started, Kyle Kendrick didn't figure into the late season plans of the Phillies, at least not as it pertained to the starting rotation. The right-hander, who is more of a swing-man/long reliever, has been thrust into the rotation since they traded Joe Blanton last week. And if he can keep doing what he did on Tuesday, when he tossed seven shutout innings against the Miami Marlins, his presence in the rotation might not be a bad thing.
Kendrick, who came up in 2007 as a starter, has vacillated between the rotation and the bullpen over the last few seasons, with differing levels of success. While he lacks the repertoire of a Roy Halladay or the dominant out pitch of a Jonathan Papelbon, he has nonetheless been a staple on the Phillies roster, for better or for worse.
And while Kendrick is more or less the epitome of the “replacement player” that you hear so much about in some of the more advanced stats, that hasn't stopped him from being useful at times in 2012, despite an ERA that hovers near 5.00.
One of those times was on Tuesday night, when he made one of his finest starts of the year in Miami by tossing seven shutout innings against the Fish, where he struck out six without walking a batter. He allowed only five hits on the night, and he never found himself in trouble.
His performance makes it 16 straight shutout innings from Phillies starters, as it came on the heels of Cole Hamels' complete game shutout in the series opener on Monday night.
The only offense he was given – and the only offense he needed – came on a lead-off homer from Jimmy Rollins. It was his 41st lead-off homer of his career, and it was the difference maker in the game.
Even though Kendrick is not likely to repeat that performance with any sort of consistency, he's going to have to be relied upon if the Phillies are to continue to climb back into the race. And if the Phillies want to keep their winning ways up – they are 9-5 since trading both Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino – they'll need to rely heavily on Kendrick every fifth day.
This was the third start of the season where Kendrick threw at least seven shutout innings, and it was his fifth win of the season.
The Phillies will have a chance to sweep the Marlins on Wednesday, when Roy Halladay (6-6, 3.80) takes on Mark Buehrle (9-11, 3.80).