It doesn't seem particularly fair that a guy who has contributed so much to the Phillies over the past year-and-a-half will likely be in Florida with a bunch of minor league prospects while the Phillies open their playoff campaign in the middle of next week. But professional sports are a meritocracy, and right now, Kyle Kendrick simply doesn't have enough of a role to warrant a playoff spot. That's what the Phillies decided yesterday when they informed him that they wanted him to leave Monday for the instructional league in Florida. Kendrick obviously was a mixture of mad, disappointed, upset and frustrated. About an hour before game time pitching coach Rich Dubee called him into a laundry room near the entance to the Phillies clubhouse for one final Come-to-Jesus talk.
Marcus Hayes caught up with Kendrick after last night's game. Here's the story (For what it's worth, Adam Eaton also was informed he won't be on the roster).
Now, onto the ramifications.
First, for Kendrick.
Ostensibly, the Phillies told him to go down to Florida and work on his change-up. They couched it like this: you are a big part of our future, and we need you to get yourself right as soon as possible. The Phillies believe Kendrick needs to develop another pitch besides his sinker and four seamer. That pitch would be a change-up, something Kendrick has flirted with this season, but doesn't have enough confidence in to use regularly. Whether he develops that pitch could determine whether he is a solid piece of the Phillies rotation for years to come. But the Phillies also told Kendrick that they want him to stay sharp in case he is needed in the playoffs. While it is certainly fun to sit in the bullpen and be part of a playoff run, Kendrick wouldn't be pitching, and thus wouldn't be ready to perform if somebody gets hurt, or somebody is ineffective, or the Phillies decide they want to add him to the roster for the NLCS or World Series.
Dubee gave a forinstance of Antonio Alfonseca, who back in 1997 was originally left off the postseason roster but came back to pitch 6 1/3 scoreless innings for the Marlins in the World Series.
See also: Lowe, Derek.
For the Phillies:
Do you keep 10 or 11 pitchers? And if you keep 10, who is the odd man out?
Oh, by the way. . .
The Phillies can clinch today with a win or a Mets loss.
They could face a situation where they have clinched -- or have a good idea that they will clinch -- before they play their own game this afternoon.
Then again, the Mets-Marlins game is currently delayed due to rain.