Will the former Fordham Ram find a role with the San Diego Padres next season?
His rookie season wasn’t spectacular, but it was a valuable learning experience. San Diego Padres RHP Brett Kennedy hasn’t seen any action since September 7th and won’t see any time on the mound this weekend after wrapping up his rookie year with season-ending knee surgery.
After going undefeated with the El Paso Chihuahuas, Kennedy made his major league debut on August 8th on the road against the Milwaukee Brewers. It wasn’t an ideal outing. giving up six earned runs on 11 hits (including three home runs) across four innings.
Over the course of the next month, he made five more starts, finishing with a final stat line of:
6 GS, 1-2, 6.75 ERA, 26.2 IP, 36 H, 20 ER, 12 BB, 18 K, 1.80 WHIP, .330 average against.
His three best outings came against NL West divisional foes, including a six-inning shutout performance against the Colorado Rockies in front of the home Petco Park crowd on August 31st. A positive sign for the young right-handed pitching, proving to coaches and fans that he is capable of holding his own in the National League West.
Kennedy’s role with the San Diego Padres.
His recent knee surgery will keep him out until November, however, Kennedy expects to be back at full strength by the time spring training rolls around. Can he return from this surgery and earn a slot in next year’s starting rotation?
While the major league experience is extremely valuable and gives him a leg up on the minor league competition that will battle for his spot (Chris Paddack, Cal Quantrill, Logan Allen, among others), I’m not sure if Kennedy’s best fit is in the starting rotation.
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Largely a two-pitch pitcher (fastball, slider), Kennedy started using his changeup more and experienced solid success with the pitch. He used the changeup just 8.5% of the time but held opposing hitters to a .167 average with the offspeed offering, as compared to a .333 average against his slider and .359 average against his fastball.
A move to the bullpen could make Kennedy more valuable. Sending him out in shorter outings would allow him to reach back for a few more ticks on his fastball, making his changeup and slider offerings more effective. Simply put, he has to miss more bats at the major league level, if he wants to be valuable. A 20% whiff rate won’t cut it (24% is league average).
One thing is for sure, whether it’s by a battle for the starting rotation or the bullpen, Kennedy will have his work cut out for him with a mile-long list of pitchers set to enter the competition for a 2019 roster spot.