It seems like every year, there are a handful of players on every team that surprise you. Incidentally, these could be guys that are filling the shoes of an injured centerpiece to your team. That can be a daunting line of thought for any player. Sometimes, a player will surrender to these misleading thoughts and fold under the pressure, causing his numbers to sink deeper in the books, and his mind to sink deeper in doubt. Other times, he will rise to the occasion and turn in great performance after great performance, if only given the chance. One such case is that of Texas Rangers closer Ian Kennedy, who is keeping that spot warm for Jose Leclerc. Leclerc is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won’t return until 2022. Meanwhile, here’s a look at Ian Kennedy’s success.
From Candidate to Closer
Coming into the 2021 season, Kennedy was competing for the role of closer against the likes of Leclerc, and fellow right-handers Matt Bush and Jonathan Hernandez. He may not have been manager Chris Woodward‘s first choice, but he was still a big part of the discussion. Things would change, however, as Bush and Hernandez would eventually join Leclerc on the injured list, basically forcing Kennedy into the job. Nobody expected this turn of events. Both the Rangers, and their fans knew that they needed a solid closer, and that meant that whenever the phone rang in the ninth, Kennedy would be the one running out of the bullpen gate. Sometimes in baseball, you need to have faith in what you have. That faith is one of the things that has lead to Ian Kennedy’s success.
By the Numbers
So far this season, Ian Kennedy has been very solid. It hasn’t been perfect, but he has performed nicely in his numerous appearances for the Rangers. In 22 games this year, the 36-year-old righty has an earned run average of 2.86 and a WHIP of 1.08 in 21 1/3 innings pitched. He doesn’t have a record, and he has walked seven, and he has struck out 26. He also leads the Rangers pitching staff with 12 saves. He has done very well as the Rangers closer. Shutting the door in the ninth innings is not easy to do by any means. It takes a certain type of pitcher to do it. You need to have a short memory. This could be said for all ballplayers, but it’s especially true for closers. If you have a bad outing, you can’t dwell on it.
Despite his good numbers, Kennedy recently hit a bump in the road. He was placed on the 10-day IL with a strain in his left hamstring on June 9th (retroactive to June 6th). Fortunately, his stay on that list didn’t last long. He received treatment for the hamstring, and he was reinstated to the Rangers’ active roster on June 16th. It’s always a shot in the arm to a team when a player bounces back quickly like that. Hopefully, the quick turnaround will prolong Ian Kennedy’s success.
Embed from Getty Images