Kendrick Keeps Cardinals Grounded

Kyle Kendrick led the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals while having pitched his first career shutout.  The 4-0 victory marks the fourth consecutive victory for the Phillies, and their third consecutive victory over the Cardinals in this series.

If Charles Dickens wrote Kendrick’s bio, it would be entitled “A Tale of Two Pitchers” due to Kendrick’s lack of consistency.  When Kendrick pitches, you never know if you will see the erratic pitcher who struggles to find the strike zone and then manages to throw the fattest strikes you will ever see, or if you will see the ground ball wizard who throws strikes and minimizes his pitch count.  Lately, the Phillies have been seeing the latter form of Kendrick.

Kendrick needed only 94 pitches (70 strikes) to get through his first shutout.  Although the Cardinals are currently without Allen Craig and Lance Berkman, they are still a very formidable hitting team.  Kendrick kept the Cardinals offense grounded, as he amassed 14 ground balls and nine fly balls in his nine innings of work.  In addition to his first career shutout, Kendrick notched his first win of the 2012 season (1-4, 4.10 ERA).

In his last three starts, Kyle Kendrick is 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and he has thrown strikes on 67% of his pitches.

Although Kendrick’s overall numbers are unimpressive on the 2012 season, he is pitching to his potential recently.  Through 22 innings in his last three starts, Kendrick is 1-1 with a 1.23 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 12 strikeouts and two walks.  In his past three starts, Kendrick has been a strike-throwing machine, having amassed 195 strikes and 96 balls (67% strike rate).  In those three starts, Kendrick amassed 34 ground balls and 19 fly balls for an impressive 1.79 GB/FB ratio!  Among Phillies starters, Kendrick’s 0.88 GB/FB ratio trails only Cliff Lee’s 1.27 this season.

As for the offense, Shane Victorino hit an RBI double to take the 1-0 lead in the 4th inning.  John Mayberry Jr. hit a two-run double in the sixth, followed by a Freddy Galvis RBI groundout (also in the sixth).

In my Phillies 2012 preview, I made a bold statement:  I said the Phillies offense would be better off without Howard.  While I cannot say I have been right thus far, I cannot say that I was wrong, either.  While the Phillies have lacked in run production at times this season, they are indeed a better hitting team than last season.  In the 2011 season, the Phillies ranked 16th in the MLB with a .253 AVG.  The Phillies currently rank fifth in the MLB with a .266 AVG.

In addition to the improved contact hitting, the Phillies are seeing a recent surge in their run production.  During their current four-game winning streak, the Phillies scored 23 runs (nearly six runs per game).  Over their past 11 games, the Phillies are 7-4 with 55 runs scored (five runs per game).  This recent surge in run production is especially impressive in spite of the continuance of Jimmy Rollins’ season-long slump (Rollins did miss several games recently as he was on paternity leave).

The Phillies will attempt to sweep the Cardinals in this four-game series as Roy Halladay (4-4, 3.58 ERA) pitches against Adam Wainwright (3-5, 4.78 ERA).

Notes

  • Although this was Kyle Kendrick’s first career shutout, it was his second career complete game
  • Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game shutout in his latest outing against the San Diego Padres
  • Congratulations to Jimmy Rollins and his wife on the birth of their first child!

Christopher Wenrich is the editor of the series of DuggerSports blogs and a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  You can follow Wenrich on Twitter @DuggerSports.

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