It’s easy to be overlooked when you share a pitching rotation with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. It’s also easy to be overlooked as a pitcher when your team is around .500 in September and your home park is quite hitter friendly. Kyle Kendrick fits both descriptions. While I’ll get into the specific numbers here shortly, I want the moral of this story to come out loud and clear right now. If you are doing so, stop ignoring Kyle Kendrick. He is pitching far too well right now to be overlooked.
He was the first pitcher I named in this week’s Dixon’s Picks, and I have to say, he made me look pretty decent with this line against the Marlins.
7 innings, two hits, one earned run, three walks, eight strikeouts.
While I’d like to pat myself on the back, I have to dial it down a little bit. After all, look at his outings since August 14th.
|8/14||at Miami Marlins||7||5||0||0||6||Win|
|8/19||at Milwaukee Brewers||8||3||1||0||7||Win|
|8/30||New York Mets||7.2||7||0||2||6||Win|
|9/4||at Cincinnati Reds||6||6||1||2||3||Loss|
It would be hard to ignore that in a week where he gets two starts. Keep in mind, the Astros are his opponent this weekend.
Those numbers work out to an ERA of 1.49 and a WHIP of 0.80. Over a period of six starts, that kind of production is incredible. Also, take a look at those teams. I know that a few of them aren’t particularly strong, at least offensively, but teams like the Reds, Brewers, and Nationals can put some runs up. Still, nothing more than two earned runs in a given start.
Looking ahead, barring an injury or reshuffling of the rotation (both are possible at this time of the year), Kendrick will start at Houston, then at home vs. Atlanta and Washington before closing his season out in Washington. The Astros are about as bad of an opponent as baseball has ever offered and while the Braves and Nationals are contenders, that doesn’t worry me a lot. Kendrick handled the Nats quite well on August 24, and the Braves are no more daunting than any of the other top opponents Kendrick has done well against.
A few other things jump out at me as I look at his fantasy value. On ESPN, he’s owned in 47.3 percent of leagues. Anyone owned in fewer than 50 percent of the leagues fits my definition of a sleeper. Now, I will say that he’s trending up, as he’s been picked up in 12.6 percent of leagues recently, so I wouldn’t waste a lot of time grabbing him if you’re interested.
When looking for pitchers to pick up, there are a few things you want to look at.
- How good is the team he’s on? This is a big concern if you’re looking to pick up wins. The Phillies haven’t exactly had a great year in 2012, but they are playing well of late. Philadelphia is 8-2 over their last ten games and riding a six-game winning streak. While they’re still a dark horse, they do have a potential Wild Card berth to play for, even if the chances are remote. Seeing what happened in 2011 in both leagues should tell you that it’s never over, and the Phillies are surging.
- Does he walk batters? Remember, the odds are with the pitcher. If you’re just looking at getting base hits, remember that you’re consider a very good hitter if you fail seven out of ten times. Pitcher’s numbers generally don’t inflate badly unless they walk a lot of guys. In this stretch of games, Kendrick’s walks have been quite manageable. So in that run of games, not only does Kendrick have a WHIP below 1.00, but he’s only had a game WHIP of over 1.00 once, and that was just over it. So, he’s challenging the zone and more often than not, winning those challenges.
- Does he strike batters out? I wouldn’t call Kendrick a strikeout guy, but he doesn’t lag in the category. Usually pitchers that have runs like this who walk so few hitters really struggle in the strikeout department, especially when we’re dealing with guys available in over half of fantasy leagues. But 33 strikeouts in 42.1 innings is a pretty decent total. His strikeout to walk ratio over this time is nearly 5:1, which is quite a bit better than just good.
Any way you slice it, the dude is just pitching great right now. If you’re trying to make up ground in pitching down the stretch, you’d be well advised to take a flyer on this guy. I know he’s been inconsistent throughout his career, but this run is phenomenal.