Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been impressed with 22-year-old rookie Kyle Kendrick, who is 3-0 with a 4.38 ERA and has beaten several touted young pitchers, including Cincinnati's Homer Bailey, Jon Danks of the White Sox and the Mets' Mike Pelfrey. Manuel – and Kendrick – believe that the right-hander has benefited from talking to veteran Jamie Moyer, who is a mentor to the Phillies' younger pitchers. "Moyer talks about tempo of the game," Manuel said. "You run the game at your pace. You see that in Kendrick. He keeps pitching. He knows where it's going and what he's doing. That shows up when he pitches."
Moyer has been somewhat of an added pitching coach for the Phillies with youngster Cole Hamels also having spent time learning from Moyer. Moyer broke into the majors when Kendrick was barely two years old, so he’s certainly got the pedigree to be teaching young pitchers. Kendrick has taken to Moyer and can be found sitting right next to him during games and picking his brain even further in the clubhouse. It’s a role that Moyer has taken to and enjoys playing for young pitchers.
While Kendrick and Moyer throw with different arms, there are a lot of comparisons between the two. Neither throws particularly hard and both are more than willing to let their fielders do their jobs. Both also know how to keep the ball on the ground, with Kendrick recording 53% of his outs in the majors on ground balls, which is actually slightly lower than his numbers in the minors.
So, just what has Moyer stressed?
“I think the most important thing for young pitchers is to do whatever it is they do best,” explained Moyer. “Too many times, young guys get here [the Major Leagues] and try to throw harder or get more break on their pitches and end up getting themselves in trouble. All you have to do is whatever it is that got you to the majors and just add little things that you learn along the way.”
For Kendrick, the learning doesn’t stop during games. He’s often talking pitching with Moyer or learning how to break down film from catcher Rod Barajas. The two recently spent time together in the video room with Barajas serving as the tutor and showing Kendrick what to look for. The added luxury of video is something that young pitchers don’t get to take advantage of in the minors and for Kendrick, his session with Barajas was really the first time that he had a lesson in what to look for.
It still remains to be seen if Kendrick will stick with the Phillies for the rest of the season, but any concerns about him not getting to go through learning that pitching in the minors provides are unfounded. He’s learning from some of the best and has made himself a very available and willing student.