Ian Patrick Kennedy
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.
- School University of Southern California
- High School La Quinta High School (Westminster, CA)
- Debut September 1, 2007
Kennedy was 8-0 with 3 saves and a 0.43 ERA as a high school senior, striking out 76, walking 7 and allowing 19 hits in 49 innings. With Ian Stewart, he helped La Quinta finish third in the nation. Baseball America named him a second-team All-American, joining pitchers like Chad Billingsley and John Danks. Following his Sr. year the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 14th round of the 2003 Amateur Draft, but Kennedy instead opted to attend the University of Southern California. Ian had a 7-2, 2.91 record with 120 strikeouts in 93 innings as a freshman. He was second in the Pacific-10 Conference in ERA, trailing only Kevin Gunderson. He made the All-Conference team but lost the Freshman of the Year Pac-10 honors to Tim Lincecum. Baseball America chose him as a first-team freshman All-American, joining Lincecum and Wade LeBlanc at the top of the staff. He joined Team USA's college group that summer, going 3-1 with a 3.81 ERA and 40 strikeouts (most on the staff) in 26 innings. In the 2004 World University Championship, Kennedy went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 17 K in 11 innings for the champs. He led the team in wins in that tournament.
As a sophomore, Kennedy went 12-3 with a 2.54 ERA and fanned 158 batters in 117 innings, allowing 85 hits and 38 walks. He was chosen as a first-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America. He tied Dallas Buck for the Pac-10 lead in wins and led in strikeouts while finishing third in ERA. He was named the Conference Pitcher of the Year. He tied for 7th in NCAA Division I in wins and fanned the most batters in that division, four ahead of close runner-up Luke Hochevar. Back with Team USA for another go-around, Kennedy went 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He tied for the team lead in wins and allowed only 11 hits in 28 innings that summer.
Kennedy slipped to 5-7, 3.90 in a disappointing junior year. Scouted by Bill Mele and Jeff Patterson, the New York Yankees still took him with the 21st overall selection of the 2006 amateur draft and signed him for a $2.25 million bonus, more than 13 of the 20 players chosen before him got.
He made his pro debut that year, making one start for the Staten Island Yankees. Kennedy was 0-2 with a 4.45 ERA for the West Oahu CaneFires that winter but was third in Hawaii Winter Baseball with 45 strikeouts, trailing Rick Vanden Hurk and Joba Chamberlain.
Kennedy zipped through the Yankee system in 2007. He made stops with the Tampa Yankees (6-1, 1.29, 72 K in 63 IP, .183 opponent batting average), Trenton Thunder (5-1, 2.59, 57 K in 48 2/3 IP, just a .163 average) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (1-1, 2.08, 34 K in 34 2/3 IP, .205 opponent average) for a 12-3, 1.91 composite minor league record with 163 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings and a .208 opponent average.
Kennedy was a September call-up, one of many Yankee prospect pitchers to debut that year, following Chamberlain, Philip Hughes, Tyler Clippard and Chase Wright. He retired his first opponent in the major leagues, Akinori Iwamura, to start a 1-2-3 inning. An Alex Rodriguez error set up two unearned runs in the second on a double by Josh Wilson. B.J. Upton added a 6th-inning homer but Kennedy finished up with the win in a 9-6 victory, being charged with 3 runs (1 earned) in 7 innings, with 6 strikeouts and five hits allowed. Kennedy would finish the 2007 season with 3 starts in the majors and 1-0 record with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings.
Kennedy would spend the 2008 season bouncing between the majors and minors. In 10 games with the big league Yankees Kennedy failed to get a decision while pitching to a 8.17 ERA. He managed to keep his minor league ERA down to 2.22 while playing for the GCL Yankees, Tampa Yankees and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Kennedy would miss much of the 2009 season with an aneurysm in his right arm. He was able to appear in a handful of games in the minors and pitched one inning at the major league level. He spent the fall in the Arizona Fall League where he put up a 4.25 ERA and walked only 5 batters while striking out 28. On December 8th, Kennedy was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal that netted the Yankees Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers. The Diamondbacks also acquired Edwin Jackson from Detroit and sent pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. The Yankees also sent Austin Jackson and Phil Coke to the Tigers.
In a new league and division a healthy Kennedy had a strong 2010 season. Kennedy made 32 starts with a 3.82 ERA, 168 strikeouts and went 9-10. 2011 was a breakout year for Kennedy. Kennedy won 21 games with a 2.88 ERA and 198 strikeouts. Kennedy finished 4th in the NL Cy Young voting that year. In the National League Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers Kennedy a 4.26 ERA with going 0-1 taking the Game 1 loss. Kennedy got the start in Game 5 and left after six innings with the score tied, but the Brewers would prevail in the later innings to advance to the National League Championship Series. His ERA jumped more than a full run to 4.02 in 2012, although he was still quite a valuable pitcher, leading the NL with 33 starts and pitching 208 1/3 innings while compiling a record of 15-12.
Kennedy received a 10-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his role in a beanball war in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 11, 2013. He started things off by hitting super-rookie Yasiel Puig with a pitch in the top of the 7th, then after the Dodgers' Zack Greinke had retaliated by plucking Miguel Montero in the bottom of the inning, he threw at Greinke's head when he came to back the next inning, triggering a huge brawl that even saw coaches throwing punches at each other. Kennedy received the longest of 8 suspensions handed out over the incident, and it was the longest handed to a pitcher since Runelvys Hernandez had also been suspended 10 games in 2005. He went only 3-8, 5.23 in 21 starts for the Diamondbacks before being traded to the San Diego Padres in return for Joe Thatcher and Matt Stites on July 31st. It was not a typical trading deadline deal, as the Padres were only on the very fringes of the postseason race, but were really more interested in having Kennedy pitch with them over the longer term, considering that spacious PETCO Park would be a good match for his style. He was victorious in his first start for the Padres on August 4th, defeating the Yankees, 6-3, while pitching 5 2/3 innings. He went 4-2, 4.24 in 10 starts for the Padres for a combined record of 7-10, 4.91 in 31 starts and 181 1/3 innings.
In 2014, Kennedy made 33 starts for the Padres, going 13-13, 3.63, pitching 201 innings and striking out 207 batters. It was a very solid year even though it was largely under the radar given the Padres were not in contention that season. In 2015, he fell to 9-15, 4.28 in 30 starts. Normally a workhorse, this time he was limited to 168 1/3 innings but did strike out 174 batters. He became a free agent after the season and on January 16, 2016, he signed a five-year contract with the Kansas City Royals for $70 million.
In 2019, he was the Royals' closer. When he saved his 30th game on September 16th, he became just the fourth pitcher in history to have had both a 20-win season and a 30-save season. The others were Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and John Smoltz, and Derek Lowe; all three had actually had a 40-save season as well.
- NL Wins Leader (2011)
- NL Winning Percentage Leader (2011)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2011)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (2011, 2012 & 2014)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2014)