Nearing the end of March, it’s been an eventful spring for the Red Sox, especially for the pitching staff. First, we learned that Steven Wright’s shoulder still isn’t fully healed after being a pinch runner last summer by Boston’s genius manager in Los Angeles and injuring himself while diving back to second base. After that, David Price gave the entirety of Red Sox Nation an aneurysm after the world learned that he had elbow/forearm soreness and was on his way to receive a second opinion from the Grim Reaper, Dr. James Andrews. No surgery/PRP injection necessary, as you know, but the word around town is that Price won’t be back until May, and, plus, literally anything is possible when it comes to a pitcher’s elbow, especially after a scare like this. Lastly, Drew Pomeranz had to leave a recent spring start early after complaining of elbow soreness, too, and already has known, current elbow issues. Not an ideal situation by any means. Plus, we’re not entirely sure just how healthy Eduardo Rodriguez’ knee is, either.
Wright, Pomeranz and Rodriguez should be good to go once real baseball starts back up at last, but that doesn’t mean that this rotation is safe. None of those guys are necessarily warriors. Until Price comes back, those three are going to need to be at their best, and healthy. If that just can’t be done, because we can’t have nice things, Spring Training star Kyle Kendrick could be the savior.
If one of those three go down at some point in April or just simply aren’t healthy enough, because God knows the Red Sox’ medical staff likes to play games with us, Kendrick could very well be the guy who temporarily takes the fifth spot in the rotation. Kendrick has had a stellar Spring with his new team as a non-roster invitee, so far throwing 23 innings in six games with a 3-0 record, a 1.96 ERA, and a 0.91 WHIP, all while striking out 20 compared to four walks and allowing just 21 base runners. Yes, I know it’s just Spring Training, but Kendrick has pitched lightyears better than other possible options, like Henry Owens and Brian Johnson. I don’t think I’m alone as a Red Sox fan when I say that I’d take Kyle Kendrick over Henry Owens.
By no means am I making Kendrick out to be some sort of angel sent from the heavens above to lead the Red Sox to the World Series. The 32-year old hasn’t had a pretty major league career since his rookie season in 2007. He spent most of his career in Philadelphia before heading west to Colorado, where he last pitched in a real game back in 2015. As you could guess, as a mediocre pitcher whose home is Coors Field, he didn’t have the greatest season. His best season came in 2012 when he had a near 4.00 ERA through 159.1 innings and a 4.33 deserved runs average. Plus, that was five years ago. That was probably his ceiling.
Kendrick recently said that his pitching woes throughout his career could be blamed by a combination of shoulder injuries and a pitch mix overcorrection. He believes that having the opportunity to pitch with a club while healthy will greatly benefit him. In his professional career, Kendrick has been a cutter, sinker, changeup and slider type-pitcher, so I’m not entirely sure what changes he and his coaches are going to make if he does get the chance to start in the regular season, but there’s a reason as to why I watch the games from my couch, as a fan.
All of that being said, I’m not trashing him, either. Like I previously mentioned, Kendrick has nearly a decade of major league experience under his belt, recording over 200 career starts. While he isn’t the greatest starting pitcher of our generation, he certainly isn’t inexperienced. He spent eight seasons in a tough Phillies market, so he’s certainly no stranger to criticism and hate. If Kendrick had to make a few starts for this ball club, he could definitely carry his Spring success over into April and onwards, if need be. He’ll get the job done, and won’t run for the hills if fans say mean things to him if he pitches poorly. And, if he isn’t great, there’s a good chance that Boston’s star-studded lineup can help bail him out. We don’t need the next Pedro Martinez to help get Boston through the month of April alive, while that would be helpful. Give someone not named Henry Owens the ball who is capable of eating up innings and sparing the bullpen in lieu of David Price and whoever else may be on the mend and give the team the chance to win every five days. Kendrick gives you just that.