The Diamondbacks ace as we had grown to know him through a CY Young caliber season in 2011 has had a difficult time being consistent in 2012. We have seen glimpses of greatness with Ian Kennedy- as close as two starts previous- but overall the ace hasn’t been himself.
Through his first 15 starts in 2012 the 27 year old is an unimpressive 5-7 with a 4.42 ERA. His WHIP sits at 1.35 and Kennedy has allowed 12 homeruns to date- one in each of his last three starts. While many of us noticed the right hander wasn’t exactly sharp during his April campaign, he did go 3-0 and the thought was that he would just improve from there. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It was a dismal May for Kennedy as he posted a 1-5 record with a 5.02 ERA.
If Kennedy is unable to put together a quality start his next time out, June will be his worst month as a starter-in terms of ERA- since July 2010 when he had a 5.97 ERA.
Teams are making contact on a much more consistent basis with Kennedy posting an average of .288 and he hasn’t been able to minimize damage as well as he did a year ago. This could be credited to his dip in ground balls induced this season as more balls are finding gaps or the seats with Kennedy not locating his pitches. During his dreadful May he never induced more groundball outs than ‘air outs’ and in his most recent outing- 4 1/3 innings- he had three groundouts compared to eighteen air outs. In some cases this statistic could be insignificant but for Kennedy- it appears to be a recurring issue.
Also, he has been lights out with no runners on allowing just five earned runs over 50 1/3 innings (.89 ERA) but when runners are in scoring position he has allowed 32 runs in just 27 innings (10.67 ERA). Again, not minimizing damage.
Another issue with Kennedy this season could be his inability to get the top of the lineup out. The leadoff and #2 hitters are batting a combined .379 with 16 extra base hits and 16 RBI’s against him on the year. By comparison, in 2011 these two hitters batted nearly 100 points lower at .283 with 18 extra base hits and 18 RBI’s in 33 starts- he’s had 15 starts in 2012.
If you’re looking for some optimism, here you go: 2011 pre-All Star break Kennedy had given up 12 homeruns (same as 2012) and had a 3.44 ERA. Post All-Star break Kennedy was nearly unhittable going 12-1 with a 2.11 ERA and allowed just 6 more homeruns. There’s no doubt that Kennedy can return to form in 2012, it’s just a matter of whether or not he’ll be able to do it- and can we really expect the domination we witnessed in 2011? Either way, the Diamondbacks will need their ace to get on track soon as the half way point looms just three weeks away.