Ian Kennedy returned yesterday in the 8th inning versus the Angels. It was anything but an easy inning, as Kennedy loaded the bases with an HBP and two walks. Kennedy also recorded a strikeout. The result was ultimately positive as he allowed no runs, recording the final out on a pop up to Freddy Guzman. So, how did Ian look?
Per Brooks Baseball, Kennedy’s four seam fastball sat at an average of 92.01 MPH, with a top speed of 93.1 MPH. While IPK only threw two changeups, they came in at an average of 83.80 MPH, representing about a 9 MPH drop, which is right around where you want to be.
Perhaps it was that Ian was amped up to be back in the Majors, but that 92.01 MPH average is an improvement over his average fastball velocity from ‘08 (89.1) and ‘07 (90.4). If Kennedy can keep up this small uptick in velocity, it would be a big step forward and could easily help him improve. Obviously, control is more important than velocity but it seemed that last year, Kennedy was afraid to throw his fastball even near the zone because it didn’t have as much on it. This led to poor control, which led to poor results…and, yeah, we all know how 2008 went for Kennedy.
Regardless of his semi-struggles yesterday, it’s great to see Kennedy back on the field after his aneurysm surgery. He will be pitching in the Arizona Fall League after the season ends and hopefully, the Yankees can get him into some more games this season. They will definitely have the chance to do so. The Bombers have already clinched a playoff berth and should be looking to rest their starters. Kennedy is a starter by trade and he should be used for multiple innings of relief of short starts by CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain.
P.S: Yes, I am suggesting that the regular starters all be on short starts for the last series of the season (vs. TB) because their being healthy and having a good combination of rest/readiness is more important to the Yankees than their win totals. If CC does, in fact, win vs. Boston this weekend is in line for his 20th win, I’d say he should go five versus the Rays, then let someone else take over. If not, he, and the rest of the starters, should be on 50-70 pitch counts for that series versus Tampa Bay.