This post was written by Amanda Orr, making her posting debut here at Phillies Nation. Say hello to her and watch for more of her pieces in the future.
With exception of the fifth spot, the starting rotation is set with Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer. The competition for the fifth spot is wide open, and any one can win it during spring training.
In mid 2007, Freddy Garcia was placed on the disabled list and Kyle Kendrick was called up from Double-A Reading. What was supposed to be nothing but a cup of coffee, Kendrick pitched 6 innings allowing 3 earned runs against the Chicago White Sox, earning another oppurtunity. Kendrick shocked us all, posting a 10-4 record with a 3.87 ERA in addition to his poise and confidence on the mound. He was able to avoid the big inning by escaping jams with runners on base.
Kendrick’s spot in the rotation was safe entering the spring of 2008. Kendrick, known for his gullibility, was the center of a practical joke, thinking he was traded to Japan. During the season, he struggled with a 5.49 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. Kendrick was unable to hold runners he held a season before. In result, Kendrick was left off the postseason roster.
“I just didn’t pitch very well,” Kendrick told the Daily News. “People say I was tired, but it really started becoming a mental thing. I got tired mentally, and then it just snowballed from there.”
Not satisfied with his performance last season, Kendrick has already reported to Clearwater.
“I’ve got something to prove this year,” Kendrick said.
Kendrick typically is a contact pitcher, relying on the defense behind him. He needs to focus on keeping the ball down in the strike zone. Kendrick needs to improve his changeup to accompany his slider in order to be more successful. From improving those pitches, Kendrick’s strikeout totals could rise, helping him dramatically.
The mental part of baseball is just as important as the physical. Kendrick must get his mental state of game back, much like Myers did last season after he was demoted. Ending on the note he did last season, recovering the poise and confidence he had in 2007 will not be easily for Kyle, but he has shown in the past he can be mentally tough.
He said it himself; he has a lot to prove. He must prove this spring that 2008 was nothing more than a sophomore slump and a fluke.