Armed with a rare plethora of starting pitching at this time of the year, the D-backs sent one of the more underrated arms in the game, Ian Kennedy, to the Padres for left reliever Joe Thatcher, Double-A reliever Matt Stites, and a competitive balance pick between rounds two and three of next June’s draft.
Kennedy’s a solid mid-rotation-type starter, falling somewhere between his dominant breakout in 2011 and this year’s dismal showing.
The former first rounder’s season has been marred by control/command issues. Through 21 starts, he’s averaged a career worst 3.48 BB/9 – nearly a full walk higher than his totals from the previous three years – and, unsurprisingly, his HR/FB rate has also spiked a bit too.
This is a long term move for the Padres, who control Kennedy for a couple years. And given his extensive track record, there’s really no reason to expect that he won’t rebound next season. His K-rate is close to his career mark; so is his groundball numbers, and his fastball velocity is actually tied for the second highest average during his career.
As for Arizona, GM Kevin Towers loves building up a bullpen and he’s added one LOOGY in Thatcher and a relatively good minor league reliever in Stites.
Thatcher is a LOOGY in every sense of the word. He’s held southpaws to a .215/.257/.231 line this season and fared much worse against RHs (.280/.294/.520). Numbers that are more or less in line with his career marks.
Stites, 23, has averaged 8.83 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, and has posted a relatively vanilla SIERA (2.81) for a reliever during his first stint in Double-A.
This is an easy win for the Padres, who bought low on Kennedy while giving one situational reliever and a potential seventh/eighth inning guy. Any time a ballclub can do that is a definite W.
Photo of Ian Kennedy Courtesy of FoxSports.com