Padres News: Kennedy Gets the Start, Despaigne Gets the Shaft

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It will be great for Ian Kennedy to get back on the bump Saturday. Great for the team, great for the fans, great for Kennedy. Not so great for Odrisamer Despaigne, though.

San Diego Padres manager Bud Black announced that Kennedy would draw the weekend start on the first day he is available to come off the disabled list. Kennedy injured his hamstring 33 pitches into his first start of the season on April 9.

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Kennedy started the season as the number four starter behind James Shields, Tyson Ross, and Andrew Cashner. When he went down, his spot in the rotation was filled by long reliever Despaigne. Despaigne had battled with Brandon Morrow throughout Spring Training for the fifth position.

Despaigne pitched brilliantly in his two starts in Kennedy’s stead, going 2-0 while posting a 1.98 ERA. In his first start, he held Arizona to two hits in seven innings. In his second start, he held the Rockies to two runs on six hits… at Coors Field.

Prior to Kennedy’s injury, Despaigne threw 4.2 innings of perfect ball against the Giants in a relief outing. He currently leads the team with a 1.45 ERA, a 0.70 WHIP, and an opponents’ batting average of .127.

And now he’s going back to the ‘pen.

It’s a nice problem for the Padres to have. Despaigne is pitching well enough to force Black to think about finding a rotation spot for him. But despite his stellar performance, O.D. was not able to Wally Pipp Kennedy. At least for the time being.

It seems unlikely that Despaigne would replace Shields, Ross, or Cashner in the rotation. But if Kennedy or Morrow struggles for an extended period of time, it’s possible Black could make a change.

While he pitched quite well last year and has a top-five Cy Young season under his belt, Kennedy has been inconsistent over his career, posting ERAs over 4.00 in two of the last three years, with the figure ballooning to 4.91 in 2013. Morrow has put up ERAs over 5.50 each of the last two years. He has started quite well this year, however, pitching at least six innings each time out, allowing only two runs over his first two starts before getting battered a bit in the altitude of Denver. But with Despaigne putting the pressure on, Kennedy and Morrow had better produce.

Here’s hoping that both Kennedy and Morrow pitch well enough to stay in the rotation. And here’s hoping Despaigne keeps throwing lights-out ball, just in case.

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