PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 05: Kyle Kendrick #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch after relieving starting pitcher Cole Hamels #35 during the game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on April 5, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mets won 7-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Poor Kyle Kendrick.
No matter what he does, he’s wrong. If he leaves a meatball for Jose Bautista to crush in a one-run game, then he’s pitched far too long. If he tosses five innings only to see the bullpen blow it, then he didn't pitch long enough. The poor guy can't catch a break.
It's hard to jump on that decision -- only when permitted the advantage of second-guessing. Kendrick was passable for six innings in his last start against Toronto and Manuel allowed a longer leash. He pitched the seventh and allowed two more runs.
Maybe that's what stuck in Manuel's mind Wednesday. Kendrick had thrown 81 pitches and allowed three runs (one earned) against Florida. He was the first to admit a lack of dominance. "It wasn't pretty," he said.
Not pretty, indeed. But, this is baseball, and that blind squirrel cliché tends to rear its head more often than not, especially in the case of Kyle Kendrick, who has been good enough for the Phillies in 2011, despite not having electric stuff, an out pitch, or an overwhelming repertoire.
Through seven starts, Kendrick has been effective, with a 4.37 ERA and a 2-2 record, neither of which actually gives you an idea of how good, bad, or indifferent he has been this season. He is the epitome of “so-so,” a pitcher that does just enough to keep his team in the game, but not enough to give anyone enough confidence to leave him pitch more than six innings without doing some serious nail-chewing.
But in the case of last night, where he was toeing that line against the Marlins by allowing nine baserunners over the course of five innings, it is hard to disagree with Charlie Manuel who had to decide between letting Kendrick face the middle of the Marlins’ order for the third time, or go to a fresh arm in the ‘pen. Unfortunately for the Phillies, the relief coughed it up, and Kendrick, along with everyone else is left to wonder what may have been.
I’m not one to play Thursday Morning Pitching Coach, but removing Kendrick wasn’t the worst idea there. The Marlins are certainly capable of scoring, so marching Kendrick out there against the middle of the order wasn’t necessarily the best way to go about managing the game.
But, we will never know. As for the Phillies, they’ll just have to settle on taking two out of three and maintaining the best record in baseball.