Kyle Kendirck Lagging Behind In Race For Phillies' Fifth Pitching Spot

Ryan SmithCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2009

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Pitcher Kyle Kendrick #38 of the  Philadelphia Phillies starts against the Tampa Bay Rays February 28, 2009 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

No, folks, the battle for the last spot in the Phillies rotation is not over.

And yes, Kyle Kendrick is a long shot to make it.

Going into spring training, there was four-way battle for the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation. The contenders were Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, Chan Ho Park, and Carlos Carrasco.

The other four spots in the Phillies rotation are currently held by Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton.

While the Phillies were still training for their upcoming spring training games, pitching coach Rich Dubee said that Kyle Kendrick was the leading candidate.

Uh, care to change your mind?

So far, Kendrick has an ERA of 12.10 in 9.7 IP. He has the worst ERA out of all of the candidates.

J.A. Happ, on the other hand, has an ERA of 3.60 in 15  innings pitched. Not bad for someone who has only pitched nine major league games. 

Chan Ho Park also is doing very well. He has an ERA of 1.54 11.7 IP. He had a great showing when he faced the Cardinals last Sunday. The only thing that may keep Park from becoming winning the fifth spot his ability to pitch from the bullpen.

Carlos Carrasco has been projected to be a No. 2 starter in the majors, but the Phillies think that he may need a bit more seasoning in the minors. If the Phillies need a spot start, he could be the one they look for. Expect him to be fully in the majors next year.  

Age doesn't usually matter. I'm sure Park (35) can be as effective as Carrasco (who turns 22 tomorrow). But J.A. Happ is at the crossroads. He is 26, which is usually the age where your career is fragile because if you aren't in the majors, your career may never fully take off unless you're a late bloomer.

Kendrick is 25 and still has another year to get his act together. He will surely settle down eventually, but at this point it looks as though he will be in Triple-A.

Also, one thing that I'm confused by is that Kendrick is trying out new pitches. This is spring training, which is a perfect time to work out new pitches, but he's in a heated battle for a job.

Wouldn't you be more focused on getting guys out then trying out new pitches? That seems more important to me at this point. Once you get the job, then you try new pitches. Or try it in a bullpen or something.

That's just what I think.

Anyway, all I can say is good luck to the contenders, and remember long shots are a big part of sports. Example: Tampa Bay Rays.