The Yanks and Devil Rays are still slugging it out, and the three of us will all be out for the evening by the time this game wraps up. As the Yanks trail the Rays, though, we can talk briefly about Ian Kennedy’s return from the Minors.
On the surface,the numbers aren’t that pretty. He gave up five earned runs on two home runs — his second and third allowed of the season — in just five innings of work. His ERA is holding steady on the season around 8.48. But despite these numbers, there’s still a lot to like from Kennedy’s start tonight.
First, we can look at his pitch count and breathe a sigh of relief. While ol’ quick-to-the-bullpen Girardi yanked Kennedy after just five innings, it wasn’t because he had thrown an astronomical amount of pitched. In fact, Kennedy threw just 78 pitches and 49 of them (or 63 percent) for strikes. Except for a brief spell in the fourth, he wasn’t shy about throwing the balls over the plate and attacking hitters. This is a big change for Kennedy.
Next — and I touched upon it briefly above — his entire approach to pitching was better. He was content throwing strikes and letting hitters put the ball in the play. He had seven ground ball outs and five air outs, and he did only allow five hits while keeping his walk total down. His approach was a heckuva lot better than watching Kei Igawa chuck waist-high fastballs at the opposing hitters. You can see what Kennedy has, and it shows promise.
I know a lot of Yankee fans don’t like Ian Kennedy’s stuff. They see him as some soft-tossing junk-ball pitcher whom the Yanks should use as trade bait, but that’s just not the case. Kennedy doesn’t have the electric stuff of a Joba Chamberlain, but he will succeed. As a first step back to the Majors today, his outing could have gone a whole lot better, but it could have been way worse. He showed a marked improvement from the way he was throwing in April, and no matter what, I’d rather see Kennedy up there than Igawa any day.