It’s a good situation when a completely healthy 24-year-old with 21 wins and a 4.78 career ERA under his belt must scrap for a spot in the rotation.
Of course, the above summary deck describes Kyle Kendrick, who lost his job in the rotation and enters spring training as a leading candidate to land the final spot. Kendrick was the subject of several reports yesterday with pitching coach Rich Dubee claiming the job is Kendrick’s to lose based on his past performance, despite the fact that J.A. Happ replaced Kendrick late last season and performed admirably. In Kendrick and Happ, the Phillies hold a pair of young, inexpensive arms capable of becoming, or in Kendrick’s case recapturing, average or above average fifth-starter status, which makes them valuable not only to the Phils, but to teams feeling the economic crunch and facing holes in their rotation. Kendrick’s 11-9 record and 5.49 ERA in 31 games was skewed by two months of poor pitching, while Happ, who spent most of the season dominating Triple-A hitters, impressed the club enough to deem him worthy of a postseason roster spot.
In Kendrick and Happ, along with Chan Ho Park, Carlos Carrasco, and a number of veterans competing for jobs in the bullpen, it's the deepest – and healthiest – the Phillies' pitching staff has been in ages. Aside from a second lefty in the 'pen to replace J.C. Romero, the staff is air-tight. But perhaps more importantly is that a winning culture has been established. Competition will be fierce, and a pleasure to watch.