The former 21 game winner has definitely had a roller coaster of a first half. After another disappointing outing against Milwaukee yesterday, he is 3-6 with a 5.42 ERA. Typically selected somewhere between rounds 10-12 in drafts during the preseason, Kennedy's numbers are just unacceptable to this point. Control, or lack thereof, is the main issue of concern. So far, his BB/9 is up by a full point over the last 2 years. Home run rate is at a career high and strand rate at a four year low for the 2011 Cy Young candidate. Those marks also signify control issues, especially given that his fastball velocity has maintained. One second half adjustment to look for is an increase in use of his cutter while lowering dependence on the change-up. This formula clearly brought better results in the past and Kennedy should get back there. If command returns while pitch selection improves, the second half trends displayed over his career should hold true. He currently holds a career 22-26 record with a lackluster 4.51 ERA and 1.31 WHIP before the all-star game, but sports a solid 3.13 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in winning 27 of his 37 decisions after the break.
The D-Backs currently cling to a 2.5 game lead over the red hot Dodgers, winners of 17 of their last 22 games, for the lead in the NL West. To continue to do so, they will need large improvement from their 28 year old righty. Look for both to happen over the next 10 weeks. I see Arizona claiming the division title with Kennedy leading the way for the pitching staff down the stretch.
The Diamondbacks visit San Francisco for a three game set versus the Giants immediately following the All-Star Break. Ian Kennedy is scheduled to take the mound for game one against Chad Gaudin (3-1, 2.39 ERA) on Friday night.
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