Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy
34-Year-Old PitcherSP
Kansas City Royals
2019 Fantasy Outlook
After an awful second season in Kansas City, Kennedy appeared to be turning things around to begin 2018. In his first seven starts of the season, the veteran compiled a 2.92 ERA and 8.5 K/9 across 37 frames. Then the bottom fell out. He gave up at least five earned runs in four of his next five starts, raising his ERA to a lofty 6.08 mark, and wound up missing time due to a strained oblique. His numbers at the end of the season were mediocre at best: 4.66 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 1.5 HR/9. His 4.65 FIP suggests that his numbers paint a pretty accurate picture of his 2018 performance. Kennedy's best days are behind him, that's no secret. He talked early in the offseason about possibly attempting to reinvent himself as a reliever. It will be interesting to see how his stuff plays out of the bullpen. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Royals in January of 2016. Contract includes player options for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Opening season in bullpen
PKansas City Royals
March 19, 2019
Manager Ned Yost said Kennedy will begin the season in a relief role, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports.
The Royals had talked about moving Kennedy to the bullpen at some point in 2019, and a lackluster spring (6.30 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 7:1 K:BBB through 10 frames) prompted the team to make the move sooner than expected. The veteran right-hander will remain an option to start should an opportunity arise, but his 5.06 ERA and 7.8 K/9 in 52 starts over the past two seasons leave quite a bit to be desired.
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Pitching Stats
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .236 992 205 91 208 48 4 41
Since 2016vs Right .257 999 215 76 233 38 2 46
2018vs Left .257 250 59 22 58 14 2 7
2018vs Right .273 268 46 18 67 12 0 13
2017vs Left .236 315 57 34 65 13 2 18
2017vs Right .254 340 74 27 78 18 1 16
2016vs Left .224 427 89 35 85 21 0 16
2016vs Right .249 391 95 31 88 8 1 17
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2016Home 4.73 1.32 219.0 6 17 0 8.1 3.5 1.6
Since 2016Away 4.28 1.28 250.1 13 16 0 8.1 3.0 1.7
2018Home 4.57 1.36 61.0 1 5 0 7.2 3.2 1.3
2018Away 4.76 1.40 58.2 2 4 0 8.6 2.8 1.7
2017Home 6.46 1.51 71.0 1 8 0 8.5 4.3 2.4
2017Away 4.45 1.17 83.0 4 5 0 6.9 2.9 1.6
2016Home 3.41 1.13 87.0 4 4 0 8.3 2.9 1.2
2016Away 3.89 1.30 108.2 7 7 0 8.6 3.1 1.7
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Stat Review
How does Ian Kennedy compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
91.9 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2017 was a trying year for Kennedy, as the right-hander struggled to stay healthy and saw a drop off in nearly every statistic from 2016. While Kennedy managed to make 30 starts for an eighth consecutive season, injuries and ineffectiveness limited him to just 154 innings after he flirted with 200 in his first season with the Royals. On top of that, he saw his ERA balloon to 5.38, his worst mark in any season with at least 40 innings pitched. His 5.65 FIP suggests his poor ERA wasn't a case of bad luck, as his K/9 dip below 8.0 for the first time since 2010, he issued walks at a 3.6 BB/9 clip and gave up a career-worst 2.0 HR/9. Still, with three years and $49 million left on his contract, his job in the Royals' starting rotation figures to be safe so long as he stays healthy.
First, the bad news. For the second straight season, Kennedy finished with a HR/9 rate north of 1.5 as he was absolutely crushed on the road (21 homers allowed in 108.2 innings). His groundball rate sunk to 33.2 percent while his flyball and hard-hit rates jumped considerably -- his hard-hit rate was the fourth-worst among qualifiers, which bodes poorly for his chances of reversing the trend. The right-hander saw a dip in strikeouts and now has gone four straight seasons without a winning record. On the plus side, Kennedy has proven durable, making 30-plus starts in seven straight seasons, and his job is safe with four years remaining on his deal (and little depth in the Kansas City rotation). His 22.5 percent strikeout rate was strong and his ratios were plenty useful last season even with all the homers. There may not seem to be much room for growth from his 36th-ranked finish among starters last season, but Kennedy probably won't be priced any higher than an SP4 or SP5.
When Kennedy was with Arizona, the idea of him going to Petco Park full time would have been a dream. He put up a 3.55 ERA in 624 innings with the Diamondbacks through 2012 and his 1.1 HR/9 kept him from being consistently great. He held it in check at 0.8 HR/9 for his incredible 2011 season: 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in 222 innings. He took a major step back with Arizona in 2013, and that led the D-backs to flip him to the Padres. The expected improvement from Petco did not materialize for Kennedy, as his 4.28 ERA in 2015 was the second-worst full season effort of his career. While the ratios have been disappointing, Kennedy has mitigated some of the damage with a 9.2 K/9 over 427 innings with San Diego. His flyball tendencies may play better at cavernous Kauffman Stadium after he signed with Kansas City in the offseason -- Petco surprisingly skewed favorable for power last year -- and Kennedy could benefit greatly from the Royals' strong outfield defense.
Upon his arrival in San Diego at the 2013 trade deadline, Kennedy’s woes with the Diamondbacks extended to his new club, but he turned over a new leaf in his first full season with the Padres, reestablishing himself as a strikeout king. He concluded the year with the first 200-punchout campaign of his career - 207, to be exact, matching Zack Greinke for 11th-most in MLB - which he supplemented with a 13-13 record, 3.63 ERA, and 1.29 WHIP in 201 innings (33 starts). Surprisingly, taking the mound half of the time in Petco Park wasn’t the catalyst for a career-best 0.7 HR/9, as Kennedy served up 10 long balls in 100.2 innings at home. In any case, he’ll again team with fellow starters Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross following a season in which the Padres’ rotation recorded a 3.55 ERA, good for ninth-best in the majors.
Just two seasons removed from consideration for the National League Cy Young award, Kennedy's walk and strikeout rates had reversed course to career worsts in his four years as a full-time starter -- 7.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 -- before the Diamondbacks dealt the righty to San Diego at the July 31 trade deadline. Both marks actually bumped up with his new squad, but an exchange of the launching pad that is Chase Field for cavernous Petco Park resulted in a fair 4.24 ERA in 57.1 innings (10 starts) as a Padre. Considering his career line in the latter venue -- 90:27 K:BB ratio and .198 BAA in 71 frames -- a bounce-back campaign could be in the offing for the 29-year-old.
Although Kennedy was able to carry similar peripherals to his breakout 2011 season (8.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9), the results included an ERA that was more than a run higher and a home-run rate that swung back to his 2010 level (1.2 HR/9). A closer look at Kennedy's arsenal reveals that opposing hitters made more powerful contact against three of his four pitches, including his four-seam fastball (.291 BAA, .511 SLGA). Pitching half of his games at Chase Field, Kennedy's flyball tendencies will be more damaging than they would be elsewhere, but his walk rate appears to have stabilized at a strong enough point where the 2012 line is a baseline for his overall performance going forward.
Kennedy made strides in his second full season with the D-Backs and solidified his place as the ace of the team's rotation. In addition to pushing his strikeout rate to 8.0 K/9IP, Kennedy's control improved to his Triple-A levels from 2008. Don't expect him to consistently maintain a sub-3.00 ERA while pitching half of his games at Chase Field, but Kennedy has a five-pitch arsenal including a very good two-seam fastball that mitigates some of the risk he presents as a flyball pitcher. The growth he showed in 2011 is largely sustainable as even a regression back toward his 2010 home-run rate (1.2 HR/9IP) will yield limited fallout since he's proven capable of missing bats a good clip and limiting the free passes.
Of the D-Backs starters that were on the roster from April through October, Kennedy was the most consistent from start to finish. The Yankees were never willing to give him a legitimate chance to stick in their rotation, but he survived his first full big league campaign at age 25 and surprisingly racked up 194 innings over 32 starts after a shoulder aneurysm limited him to 23.2 innings in 2009. Kennedy missed enough bats (7.8 K/9IP) to survive serving up 26 long balls and issuing his fair share of free passes (3.3 BB/9IP). If you look closely, a .265 BABIP reveals at least some good fortune behind the sub-4.00 ERA and it's easy to see where his 4.33 FIP might be more telling of what to expect in his second season with Arizona, but there were signs of growth in the second half including a drop in home-run rate (0.76 HR/9IP) and fewer walks (3.1 BB/9IP).
An aneurysm in his shoulder cost Kennedy most of the 2009 season, but he recovered in plenty of time for the Arizona Fall League, where he racked up a 28:5 K:BB ratio in 29.2 innings and gave up just one home run. Couple that with his career Triple-A numbers (2.14 ERA, 131 strikeouts in 126.1 innings) and you'll understand why the D-Backs coveted him when they were a part of the three-team trade that also brought Edwin Jackson to the desert in December. Kennedy is expected to take over the No. 4 starter spot for his new team.
Kennedy had an opportunity to stake a permanent claim for a rotation spot with the Yankees when the team was ravaged by injuries last season, but a strained lat knocked him out of action from late May until early August, and he didn't pitch well enough around the injury to stick when he was finally healthy for good later in the year. After being demoted back to Triple-A, Kennedy was very sharp while he finished with a 72:17 K:BB ratio over 69 innings there. The Yankees' offseason free-agent spending binge seems to suggest that Kennedy might be traded to another organization, which would likely provide a much faster track to the majors. Keeper league owners should patiently wait for the change of scenery to take place.
Kennedy made a meteoric rise from High-A to the majors in 2007, overshadowed by the dominance of fellow prospect Joba Chamberlain who made the same leap even faster. Kennedy didn't make the Yankees' postseason roster because of a late-season back ailment, but in his three big league starts, he showed considerable poise in high-pressure situations with the Yankees chasing down a playoff berth in September. It's possible that a numbers crunch will bump Kennedy back to Triple-A to start the season, but look for him to spend most of his season in New York, especially if Chamberlain stays in the bullpen.
More Fantasy News
Potentially moving to relief role
PKansas City Royals
February 13, 2019
Manager Ned Yost said that Kennedy may be moved into a relief role at some point during 2019, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports.
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Tosses six innings in defeat
PKansas City Royals
September 28, 2018
Kennedy (3-9) suffered the loss against the Indians on Friday, allowing four earned runs on six hits and one walk over six-plus innings. He struck out two.
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Turns in quality start
PKansas City Royals
September 15, 2018
Kennedy (2-8) allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks while striking out four across six innings to earn the win Saturday against the Twins.
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Strikes out six in quality start
PKansas City Royals
September 10, 2018
Kennedy (oblique) allowed one run on four hits and three walks across six innings Sunday in a no-decision against the Twins. He struck out six.
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Making first start of second half
PKansas City Royals
September 9, 2018
Kennedy (oblique) was activated from the 10-day disabled list and will start Sunday's game against the Twins, Jarrid Denney of MLB.com reports.
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