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Kennedy on Ballot for Rotation Position

Ian Kennedy with wife and USC basketball player Allison JaskowiakWhen the 2008 season began, the Yankees put a lot of faith in its starting pitching rotation that included youngsters Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy.

Unfortunately, for the Bronx Bombers, Hughes and Kennedy did not win a single game and Chamberlain got injured.  After going 5-3, 4.46, in 13 starts in 2007, Hughes was 0-4, 6.62, in 8 starts in ’08.  Kennedy was even worse.  After going 1-0, 1.89, in three starts in ’07, Kennedy’s 2008 season was a disaster.  Kennedy got nine starts and went 0-4, with a 8.17 ERA. In 39 2/3 innings, he gave up 50 hits and walked 26 for a 1.92 WHIP.

The result of the failures of the young starting pitchers, and the emergence of the Tampa Bay Rays, caused the Yankees to not make the post-season playoffs for the first time since 1994.  Those who drafted Hughes or Kennedy for their fantasy baseball team were also greatly disappointed.

Both have taken action to improve their chances with the Yankees this season.  Hughes is pitching for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona League.  In some starts, he’s been clocked at 95 MPH.  In 30 IP, Hughes has 38 K’s against just 13 walks.  It looks like Hughes has recovered from the rib injury he suffered in May that put him on the DL.

Kennedy Thrown a Curve

Kennedy is pitching for Mayaguez of the Puerto Rico Winter League.  Kennedy is 2-1, 1.57, in five starts.  He has spent a lot of time working on his curve ball with pitching coach Rafael Chaves in the off-season and it seems to have made him a more complete pitcher.  Kennedy looked good at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to end the season (2.35 in 13 starts) and was disappointed when he did not receive a September call up from the big league club.

“I think the curve ball is a big thing,” said Kennedy.  “These guys are smart hitters and they can sit on my fastball or changeup.  Those were the only two pitches I had.  I think that third pitch is really going to help.  I want to carry this into spring training,” said Kennedy.

Hughes Opportunity

The Yankees starting pitching depth chart for 2009 is still unknown.  With Mike Mussina retired, the Yankees go into 2009 with Phil Hughes fantasy starting pitcherChien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain, and Al Aceves in the rotation.  Hughes and Kennedy appear to be fourth and fifth on the depth chart, but the Yanks will definitely be active in the free agent market with the name of C.C. Sabathia at the top of the list.

“You look at what you’re able to acquire,” said manager Joe Girardi.  “Maybe you don’t acquire the three starters you think you are and then there’s a  possibility he (Hughes) would be in our rotation.  You would hope that he learned a lot from this year.  I know it was a very frustrating year for him and for us as well.”

Despite the long odds, Kennedy is optimistic about his chances to be in the Yankee rotation for 2009.  “I know we’re going to get free agents, but I want to position myself to be in one of those spots and pitch so they can’t have me down at Triple-A.”

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