Can Ian Kennedy Make the Playoff Roster?

According to Tyler Kepner of the NY Times, Yankees right handed pitcher Ian Kennedy could be joining the Yankees after making two successful minor league starts including three perfect innings for the Scranton Yankees while recovering from aneurysm surgery.

“Juan Miranda on roster, sounds kik(sp),” Kepner tweeted. “Sounds like Ian Kennedy to follow soon. (sorry)”

Kennedy’s first start back was a two inning performance where he only gave up one hit with one strikeout on September 12 for the high-A Tampa Yankees. His next performance was with the triple-A Scranton Yankees where he lasted three innings and allowed no hits or walks while picking up six strikeouts.

It looks like he’s bouncing right back from aneurysm surgery just like David Cone did in 1996. That year Cone had the surgery and made his comeback just 99 days after his last start. His first game back he threw seven no-hit innings, but was pulled before he could pull off the gem because of a strict 85 pitch count.

He continued to throw four more games during that regular season and during those five games he went 3-1 over 32 innings, a 3.94 ERA, and 36 strikeouts. He had only one mediocre start during the stretch that inflated his ERA (5 IP, 6 ER).

He also pitched three games during the playoffs including a six inning, one run performance during the World Series. My point is that Cone managed to come back quickly, came back strong, and helped the Yankees win their first championship since 1978. Perhaps Kennedy could do something similar and possibly help the Yankees in the playoffs.

He doesn’t have much time to prove to manager Joe Girardi that he can come in out of the bullpen. Having pitched last Wednesday the Yankees probably wouldn’t use him at least until Monday against the Angels. After that they are likely to be conservative with him and maybe only use him three more times.

Four games is not a lot of time, but Cone had just five games to prove to Joe Torre that he was ready. Obviously Kennedy doesn’t have the track record of Cone, but he could be a better option than Brian Bruney, Mark Melancon, or even Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre.

If he’s healthy the Yankees may be tempted to use him over one of those pitchers especially if he manages to throw eight or nine innings and proves to be a viable middle relief option.

However unlikely it is, Kennedy could be this year’s version of Phil Hughes a la 2007.

Update: Here are some quotes from Joe Girardi (h/t Bryan Hoch):

Girardi: “I don’t know if they had a timetable on how fast he was going to move,” Girardi said. “I know they’re very happy with what he’s doing. They said he was really, really good the other night. They’re very happy with his progress.

“If he was to help us, it would probably be good for him,” Girardi said. “I think any time anyone gets big league experience … there’s a lot to be learned from it.”

Kennedy: “I’ve been throwing since July, and pretty much through this whole process I haven’t had any symptoms or soreness to my arm,” Kennedy said. “Because they didn’t cut into any muscle, my arm has been feeling pretty much back to normal.”

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