Cocks in the Hen House 09.08.2010


“Cocks in the Hen House” is a weekly column by friends of the Chicks that aren’t, well, chicks. Stop by every Wednesday to see what the men-folk have to say about the weeks biggest baseball stories.

By Dash Treyhorn (@DashTreyhorn)

Has Kyle Kendrick made his last start in a meaningful game in 2010? If Vance Worley’s performance on Monday was any indication, then it’s certainly a strong possibility. The rookie, making his first career start in The Show, was effective over five innings, allowing a pair of runs on six hits while setting down five via the strikeout.

It wasn’t an earth-shattering performance, and one start does not the season make, but given Kendrick’s recent struggles on the hill, it’s certainly a risk worth taking, as the season has become too close, too up-in-the-air, too unsure, to keep giving a start to someone who has been unable to get the job done with such gusto.

And admittedly, I’ve been as big a Kyle Kendrick supporter as anyone else this season. I lobbied for him to get the starting spot over the 47-year-old Jamie Moyer* after a strong spring training (cognizant that stats in March are meaningless). Despite a rough start to the season, he rewarded us by nicely filling out the back-end of the rotation with his usually-solid-but-sometimes-maddening starts that saw the young right-hander toss up a 3.80 ERA over 18 starts between April and July.

*Drink

He wasn’t flashy, he wouldn’t rack up the strikeouts, but he was good enough. And really, that’s all you need from the number five, even though some folks will tell you that “the number five” is an insignificant term because that every pitcher should be good or better than average and, in a way, we’re excusing poor performance by applying a meaningless label.

But despite Kendrick’s success for most of the season, usually coming in spurts in between miserable starts, it is what he’s done for the team lately that has clouded his future in the rotation for the remainder of the season. Since August 4th, when he sported a respectable 4.37 ERA, he’s racked up a 7.04 ERA over his next six starts, allowing 24 earned runs in 30.2 innings en route to leading the team to a 2-4 record.

Which brings us back to Vance Worley, who did more for the Phillies in one start than Kendrick has done in his last four when he kept them in the game for five innings. Sure, he was handed the loss, but not for lack of effort. And yes, it is just one start, but with 22 more games to go, the Phils cannot afford to send a struggling Kendrick to the hill three or four more times when each win and loss is magnified and October on the line.

Worley, for what it’s worth, isn’t projected to be anything more than a back-of-the-rotation or middle relief pitcher, and his numbers in the minors (3.36 ERA, 119 Ks in 150 innings between AA and AAA this season), don’t jump off the page. But then again, they don’t necessarily need to. The Phillies don’t need a guy with a great K/9 ratio or dominating stuff to ride into the Delaware Valley on a white horse and pull them out of the fire – they just need a better than average arm for a few more weeks. 

Maybe Vance Worley isn’t the answer, either. But maybe he is. And maybe the Phillies can pad this lead of theirs and render this discussion moot by the time Worley or Kendrick or the de facto numero cinco de jour takes the hill. But they cannot count on that, and neither can we or anyone else.

So, is Vance Worley the answer? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. He’s not Halladay or Hamels or Oswalt.

But he’s also not Kyle Kendrick.

Dash is a writer for The Fightins and can be found on Twitter here.

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One Response

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