Ian Kennedy had a tumultuous season pitching to a 4.28 ERA and a 4.51 FIP. He’s a year removed from a season in which he had a 3.63 ERA and a 3.21 FIP. Kennedy’s lackluster 2015 campaign can be boiled down to him giving up the long ball too many times. Kennedy has struggled to keep the ball in the park but 2015 saw him reach new heights in that department.
Kennedy’s HR/FB% was the highest of his career at 17.2%. Compare that to his career 10.7% and you can see that Kennedy is due for regression. The HR/FB% was the second highest amongst qualified pitchers to only James Shields. Moreover, his xFIP was 3.70 and SIERA was 3.61 indicating better fortune for the future.
Kennedy posted a strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) greater than 9 for the second consecutive season. The move to the American League will hurt that mark but he still should be good for an 8.5 K/9. For the first time since 2012, Kennedy’s walks per nine innings (BB/9) was under 3. The improved control will help limit base runners and give Kennedy a better chance at success.
Take a look at Kennedy’s season splits by first and second half:
As you can see, Kennedy’s second half was pretty good. His strikeout numbers increased and his ERA, as well as other peripherals also decreased while maintaining the improvements in his walk rate.
It’s not easy to pinpoint where Kennedy made changes and it may just be a matter of luck. We can, however, see that Kennedy made changes to his horizontal release point.
He released the ball from the horizontal axis higher beginning in June leading to good results.
Now in Kansas, Kennedy will be the beneficiary of a better team defence and a better pitchers park. Kennedy has very good strikeout rates and he should be in line for a good year. I think he ends up with an ERA close to 3.70 while pitching at least 180 innings if not more.