Since his stellar 2011 season in which he won 21 games and finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting, Ian Kennedy has been an average pitcher. Actually ‘average’ might be a stretch when describing the right-hander’s 2013 campaign.
Kennedy hasn’t won a start since June 1 and the Arizona Diamondbacks could no longer march him to the mound every fifth day — not with a NL West title still in their sights.
Wednesday, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers engineered a deal that sent Kennedy to the San Diego Padres for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, minor leaguer Matt Stites and a 2014 draft pick.
Derrick Hall, the CEO and president of the D-backs, joined Doug and Wolf Thursday morning and explained the trade.
“He’s had a tough couple of years,” he said. “It was time. Even (Wednesday), we were very close, down to the wire to acquiring a starting pitcher as well and we kept asking ourselves ‘what are we going to do if we get him,’ because we’ve got too many starters and that’s a good problem to have.”
Kennedy will now toe the rubber at pitcher-friendly Petco Park, where he has performed well during his career. In six starts at Petco, Kennedy is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA. He’s given up three home runs in 35.2 career innings there.
Hall thinks a change of scenery will help get Kennedy back on track.
“Ian will figure it out, he’s got his velocity back his last couple starts,” he said. “It was nice to see him get to 93 (mph) at times and even 94 I think he hit. If he just learns to mix in that breaking ball again and use his changeup effectively, he’ll be back — and especially at Petco Park.
“So we wish him well, we just hope he doesn’t do well against us.”
Kennedy should get a chance to pitch against his former teammates. The Diamondbacks and Padres meet seven times before the end of the season, with three games at Chase Field August 26-28 and a four-game set in San Diego September 23-26.
Despite Kennedy’s struggles, Hall told Doug and Wolf that this wasn’t an easy trade to complete.
“When K.T. and I went to his room (Wednesday) afternoon and talked to him, those are tough ones,” he said. “That was a guy that we obviously think the world of. I love Ian Kennedy. He and his family are terrific.
“He’s contributed much to us and we would not have won in 2011 if it wasn’t for him stepping up and becoming the ace.”
Kennedy ranks fourth on the D-backs’ all-time victories list with 48, behind only Randy Johnson (118), Brandon Webb (87) and Curt Schilling (58).