By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
With the Phillies out of contention for the playoffs at this point of the season, players will be no doubt trying to win spots on the roster for next year.
The way Kyle Kendrick is pitching in the second half of the season, there might be a spot in the Phillies starting rotation with his name on it next season. Since the All-Star break, Kendrick is 5-1 in 12 games. He has allowed 10 earned runs in 37 innings pitched for a 2.47 earned run average.
“He’s been one of those guys who’s had to fight to survive and nobody can ever say that he’s not a survivor because he finds a way,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “When he’s pitching like that, it just goes to show that he is a valuable commodity and he can do his job. He’s proven that he can pitch.”
Kendrick said that all he needs is to get out on the mound and have good outings every time he pitches and everything will take care of itself when it comes to cracking the Phillies starting rotation on a more permanent basis.
“It’s not my call, but I just go out there and give us a chance to win,” Kendrick said. “If I keep doing that, I think I can stay there.”
In Friday night’s game against the Washington Nationals, Kendrick (7-9) extended his scoreless innings streak to 21 before giving up a pair of runs in the seventh inning on a two-run home run by Nats pinch-hitter Tyler Moore. He allowed four hits, walked two and struck out three in the Phillies 4-2 win over Washington.
Earlier in the season, Kendrick had a career-high 22-inning scoreless streak that went from June 28 to Aug. 3. He started the season in the Phillies bullpen and came back to the starting rotation from April 23 to July 6. Kendrick wound up going back to the bullpen on July 13 when starting pitcher Roy Halladay came off the disabled list. Since the team traded Joe Blanton to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kendrick has been in the starting rotation since Aug. 3.
Before the All-Star break, Kendrick started the season with a 2-8 record. His resurgence in the second half of the year has definitely been a pleasant surprise to Manuel who said he didn’t envision Kendrick turning things around the way he has in the second half of the season.
“It just goes to show you when you get focused on what you’re doing and you apply yourself and you stay at it, good things can happen to you,” Manuel said. “Kendrick has always been capable of pitching good games.”
Kendrick said there’s nothing special that he is doing on the mound other than going through his progression of pitches.
“It’s just getting ahead. My changeup has been big for me,” Kendrick said. “I’m not doing anything different. It’s about making pitching and focus on every pitch.”
Manuel said the thing that is making the difference in the second half of the season for Kendrick is that he is more relaxed and is able to dictate the pace of the game when he’s on the mound.
“When he gets in a good rhythm, he controls the tempo of the game,” Manuel said. “He takes it like a Jamie Moyer, or a Cliff Lee, (Roy) Halladay, or (Cole) Hamels, he moves the tempo of the game and he’s in control because of his pitching in the game. He mixes his pitches good. The catchers have done a good job of working with Kyle and he follows along with them when he gets in a good groove. .. He can command the ball wherever he wants to.”