Via Ken Rosenthal -
I remember talking to Ian Kennedy before a start he made on FOX for the Yankees in late April 2008. Kennedy had opened the season in the rotation, but already was in danger of losing his spot. He sounded unsure of himself, almost scared.
“You can just see his swagger on the mound,” Kennedy’s teammate, Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz, said Wednesday. “It’s not arrogance. It’s not cockiness. It’s just positive swagger.
“I love watching him strike out a guy and walk off the mound. He’s got it, whatever that ‘it’ is.”
And now, less than two years after getting traded to the Diamondbacks, Kennedy is one of the best pitchers in the National League.
He still doesn’t look the part, not at 6-feet, 190 pounds. He still doesn’t act the part, either, at least not off the field. In fact, Kennedy just sort of smiled when I informed him of Putz’s words.
The difference in Kennedy, though, is quite evident. He is tied for the NL lead with 15 wins, ranks 10th in the league with a 3.12 ERA and is effective both on the road and at hitter-friendly Chase Field.
Kennedy, 26, also has won seven straight starts as he prepares to face the Phillies on Thursday night — the longest active streak in the majors and tied with the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and Tigers’ Justin Verlander for the longest this season.
One scout remains skeptical of Kennedy’s success, noting that the right-hander is taking advantage of light-hitting NL West opponents. The numbers support the scout’s opinion somewhat — Kennedy is 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA against the NL West, 9-3 with a 3.86 ERA against all other opponents.
Three other scouts, however, offered a contrasting view, saying that Kennedy is indeed becoming an elite pitcher. His strikeout-to-walk ratio and opponents’ OPS, both of which rank in the top 12 in the NL, suggest the same.
“If you grade him out, his stuff doesn’t grade out great,” one scout said. “But if you watch him pitch, he grades out great.
“I don’t want to compare him to (Greg) Maddux. He’s not Maddux. But he’s got a good pitching IQ, a really, really good feel for the flow of the game.”
Aw, what do we care? We have A.J. Burnett!