What in the world is wrong with Ian Kennedy?
After emerging as the Arizona Diamondbacks' ace last season and a viable candidate for the NL Cy Young Award, Ian Kennedy has struggled to build upon his successful 2011 campaign.
In fact, at times Kennedy appears unrecognizable to the hurler who dominated hitters so effortlessly last year. So what's changed so drastically from one season to the next?
Perhaps one problem with Ian Kennedy doesn't stem from on the field performance but rather the lofty expectations that surrounded him entering the season.
For his career, Kennedy boasts a 37-25 record with a 3.76 ERA, which suggests it was highly unlikely the D-backs' right-hander would replicate or improve upon his 21-4 record and 2.88 ERA from a season ago.
It's quite possible last year was an aberration, in which the D-backs' hurler played out of his mind. Kennedy may not be ace material, but he should still figure to be a top of the rotation starter, which makes the inconsistency of his performance this season all the more baffling.
One area of Kennedy's game that appears indicative of his season-long troubles is his increased wildness and number of walks.
In Friday's 8-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, the 27-year-old hit a batter, walked two and threw two wild pitches in an erratic outing.
Kennedy was tagged for six runs on seven hits, including two home runs to Cubs' left fielder Alfonso Soriano, and saw his record fall to 6-8 on the year and his ERA inflate to 4.55.
Sure, you could make the argument that Kennedy was a victim of a 3-hour and 40-minute rain delay and shaking off rust from the All-Star layoff, but control issues have certainly plagued the right-hander all year long.
Another troubling aspect of Kennedy's game is the number of home runs allowed. In 107.2 innings pitched this season, he's already surrendered 12 longballs. In 2011, Kennedy gave up 19 home runs in 222.0 innings of work.
Kennedy's number of walks and home runs allowed are certainly alarming, as is his inability to make and locate pitches when behind in the count. There are obvious adjustments that need be made if Kennedy is going to be effective and reliable for the Diamondbacks in the second half.
It's only been one outing, but so far it's been a rough start on the road to redemption for Ian Kennedy.
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