While Kyle Kendrick may prefer to remain with the only organization he’s played for, a strong finish to an inconsistent year wouldn’t hurt his options beyond this season.
Following an emotional performance in his last start, the right-hander will try to lead the NL East-worst Philadelphia Phillies to a split of their four-game road set with the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.
Kendrick (9-12, 4.72 ERA) has built some strong ties in Philadelphia during his eight seasons with the club that selected him in the seventh round of the 2003 draft.
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The 30-year-old, however, could be nearing the end of that tenure with his contract set to expire at the end of the year. He’s expected to make his last start Tuesday in Miami before the Phillies wrap up the season with three at home versus Atlanta.
That led to a mentally trying outing Saturday in which Kendrick surrendered one run over 6 1-3 innings in a 2-1 victory over the Marlins that may have been his last home start with the Phillies (70-82).
"I came up in this organization," he told MLB’s official website. "A lot of teammates are still around (from) when I came up. I don’t know. It’s tough. I’m a pretty loyal guy. My kids were born here. Met my wife here, you know. I have a lot of things here."
Kendrick could give the Phillies something to think about with an outstanding finish in 2014. He’s gone 4-1 in his last eight starts and has pitched particularly well in two of his last three. After allowing three hits over seven innings in a 4-0 win at Atlanta on Sept. 2, he struggled in a home loss to Pittsburgh before bouncing back Saturday.
Kendrick has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings in his last two starts against the Padres (70-81). In his only meeting this season, he gave up two runs, one earned, over six innings in a 7-3 home victory June 12.
San Diego’s Seth Smith was hitless in his three at-bats that day, but is 8 for 17 with a triple and three doubles overall in the matchup. Smith was limited to pinch-hit duties in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss after missing one game due to a sore hamstring.
First baseman Tommy Medica is 3 for 5 in this series after going 3 for 53 (.057) over his previous 28 games.
Robbie Erlin (3-4, 4.89), who has struggled with elbow soreness, gets the spot start in place of the injured Tyson Ross. He hasn’t started since May 17 and hasn’t appeared in a game since allowing three runs in two innings of a 6-0 loss at Colorado on Sept. 7.
"This is an opportunity for Robbie to show what he can do against a major league lineup," manager Bud Black said.
Erlin allowed one run over 13 1-3 innings in two May home starts and is 3-2 with a 2.53 ERA in his nine at Petco Park.
The left-hander surrendered three runs – two earned – and four hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 7-5, 13-inning home defeat in his only start against the Phillies on June 26, 2013.
He’ll face a Philadelphia team that put up four runs or less in 11 straight games before snapping a three-game losing streak Wednesday. Darin Ruf has gone 3 for 6 in the set, while Domonic Brown is 4 for 11.