Well this couldn’t have worked out better. Freddy Garcia who has been struggling all season is finally out of the picture. Yes, hindsight confirms he was over-valued and the Phils now have a $10 million arm resting on the clubhouse couch for the rest of the season; but it seems the Phils may be able to write off that bad debt and solidify a decent starting rotation. Garcia’s replacement, Kyle Kendrick, garnered his first major league win last night in the Phillies 9-6 win over the Indians. The 22 year-old righty pitched 6 innings for the second consecutive outing and finished with a line of 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He also threw more than half of his pitches for strikes, which is key as a youngester, it shows composure and confidence in his fastball. It also kept runners off the basepaths, so when Ryan Garko deposited one of Kendrick’s pitches over the wall, it was only a solo shot. Staying with this strategy (and executing it) will lock Kyle Kendrick’s into Freddy Garcia’s spot in the rotation as well as add some balance to the Phillies recent history of callups. Other than Cole Hamels, there hasn’t been a Phillies mid-season promotion that has stayed around for much more than a cup of coffee. (See Gavin Floyd, Eudo Brito, Scott Mathieson or Adam Bernero).
In other news, Ryan Howard connected for his 16th home run of the season, providing more steam for his charge back up the home run leaderboard. Before going on the DL in late May, he had only swatted 6 dingers; in the past 10 games, he has gone yard 5 times. Although Prince Fielder (the next Ryan Howard) is currently tops in the league with 26 homeruns, we all know it’s possible for Ryan to keep hitting at his current pace. More importantly though, Howard is slowing beginning to raise his batting average which now stands at .247. While it’s a far cry from the .313 he hit last year, it’s certainly an improvement on the .204 he was hitting when he went on the DL. Howard’s ability to hit for average should raise his RBI count (48) as well, which is something the Phils could really use.
In tonight’s rubber match in Cleveland, Jon Lieber (3-5) takes to the mound against C.C. Sabathia (9-2). With Freddy Garcia out of the picture, Lieber is the lone Phillies pitcher with a losing record. Neither pitcher tonight regularly allows many walks, so look for a short game. Go Phils!