Kyle Kendrick isn’t all that remarkable. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander has a standard pitcher’s frame and fairly average stuff. Neither his velocity nor his repertoire particularly stands out. His numbers — in 178 career appearances; 137 of them starts — don‘t jump out at you.
But that doesn’t mean the 28-year-old isn’t an effective pitcher. Relying primarily on sinkers, changeups and control, Kendrick does what a back-of-the-rotation starter is expected to do: He keeps his team in games as often as not. Overshadowed in a rotation that features Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels — and, in recent years, Roy Halladay — he simply goes out and does his job.
Kendrick, who is 6-4, with a 3.76 ERA this year, takes the mound tonight against the Washington Nationals. He talked about the evolution of his repertoire when the Phillies visited Fenway Park in May.
Kyle Kendrick: “I developed my current repertoire over the years. When I got drafted, I just threw a four-seam and a slurve. In 2006, I started throwing a sinker, and two or three years ago I developed a changeup — a split-change. I added a cutter about the same time as the changeup, about two or three years ago.
“I started throwing a sinker because my four-seam wasn’t getting it done. It was straight — not enough movement — so I started messing around with grips and the ball started sinking. I was like, ‘I’ll go with that.’ I actually throw the two-seam harder than I threw the four-seam, and something that’s moving is obviously harder to hit than something straighter. It runs with a little sink. Sometimes if I open up my delivery a little bit it moves more, but most of the time it’s the same depth.
“I stopped throwing the slurve pretty much right when I got drafted. I tried to throw a slider, but just couldn’t pick it up. I throw one now, but I don’t throw it a lot. I can make my cutter bigger, so at times it’s more of a slider.
“With my cutter, it‘s just a matter of moving my fingers on the seams and how I release it. Rich Dubee, my pitching coach, showed me my cutter grip. From there, I just kept throwing it and throwing it until I got a good feel.
“I learned my changeup when I was in Triple-A, at the start of 2009. One of my teammates was Justin Lehr, and Tim Hudson had showed it to him. Basically, I got it from Lehr, who got it from Hudson. It’s just a standard split grip, across the seams. I used to throw a circle, but I have small hands, so it felt like it always slipped. I could never be consistent with it.
“There’s nothing that makes me all that unique. I have a little hitch at the top of my delivery, and maybe that’s a little different, but other than that I’m pretty ordinary. I just go out there and try to make pitches.”