Ian Kennedy appeared to be at the end of his baseball career. Then the Royals moved him to the bullpen.
Ian Kennedy started 52 games between 2017 and 2018. He had 8 wins to show for it. To his credit, he continued to strike out almost 8 per 9 innings. But he was getting hit. And he was getting hit hard. He was issuing over 3 walks per 9 innings. And he was giving up more than 1.5 home runs per 9 innings.
Going into 2019 it was doubtful he could find a starting spot even in the pathetic Royals rotation. So, the Royals did the right thing. They moved him to the bullpen.
There can be no argument that Kennedy’s move to the bullpen was anything but a success. His home runs allowed per 9 innings went under 1 for the first time since 2014. His walks per 9 innings were his lowest since 2012. And he struck out over 10 guys per 9 innings for the first time in his career.
Ian Kennedy had 30 saves in 2019 for a team that did not even win 60 games. His FIP was under 3. He struck out more than 4 batters for every walk he gave up. Over 63 innings he showed himself to be a consistent and dependable arm in the back of the bullpen.
Do not misunderstand me. I still think the Royals should have traded Ian Kennedy in 2019. And I think the Royals would be fools not to trade Kennedy in 2020. He is now 35 years old and still gives up more than a hit per inning. But there is no denying that his move to the bullpen was a triumphant one.