Tonight’s starting pitcher for the San Diego Padres, Ian Kennedy failed to record a quality start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It’s been an up and down season so far for the former 20-game winner and Cy Young finalist. In his most recent outing against the D-Backs, Kennedy yielded 11 hits, while only allowing 3 earned runs. He exited after 5 innings as the Friars fell 4-3.
Kennedy has recorded quality starts in four of his seven starts in 2014. His earned run average is a respectable 3.43, but he is only 2-2 in his last four starts–an obvious product of the lackluster Padres’ offense that is supposed to support him. Two starts ago, Kennedy joined a group of starters–10 in all, to go at least 7 innings and allow 3 hits or less to the opponent. Among the group with Kennedy are Adam Wainwright, James Shields, and Johnny Cueto. Lesser-known pitchers such as Dillon Gee, Jason Hammel, and division-rival Ryan Vogelsong also made the list.
What made Kennedy’s start different was that he allowed back-to-back doubles in the first inning against the Washington Nationals on the road. Kennedy told ESPN:
First inning, you’re kind of like a lot of pitchers, you’re trying to feel what’s going to work for that moment,” (h/t ESPN News Services)
Aside from having a solid day two starts ago, he struck out 11 Nationals’ hitters. Another big bat enters Petco Park tonight by way of Giancarlo Stanton. The slugging right fielder is among the league leaders in both home runs and runs driven in. Kennedy is going to have to be on his A-game to ensure that Stanton doesn’t beat the Padres all by himself. This will be no easy task for the right-hander, as Stanton in his career vs. Kennedy, is hitting .364, with 2 home runs, 3 RBI, and is 4-for-11. He’s slugging 1.000 and has an OPS of 1.417.
As if that wasn’t enough for Kennedy to worry about, Garrett Jones also “owns” Kennedy. He’s 5-for-12 with a double, a bomb, and three runs batted in. Jones is hitting .417, slugging .750 and has a OPS of 1.250. For the Padres to be successful not only in tonight’s opener, but in the series against the Marlins, it starts with the tone set forth by Ian Kennedy. If he can shake the bad history with these two sluggers, dominate the way he did against the Nationals and their star-studded lineup, then the Padres can forget their recent struggles, and get back on the winning track.