Kennedy creating interesting dilemma for Padres

Right-hander has 6.64 ERA since start of June

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The Padres are facing a difficult decision this off-season when it comes to right-handed starter Ian Kennedy.

Do they make him a qualifying offer, or do they let him walk as a free agent without compensation? That qualifying offer might require a $15 million commitment.

Likely, Kennedy will be looking for a long-term deal as a free agent and probably wouldn't accept a one-year deal. But if he did, would it be a good play by the Padres?

It would if the 30-year-old Kennedy pitched the way he has since the the start of June.

On Wednesday night, Kennedy held the Rangers to two runs on five hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in seven innings. The 12 strikeouts tied his career high sand matched the season high by a Padres pitcher (James Shields and Andrew Cashner also had 12 strikeouts in a start).

Over his last five starts, Kennedy is 2-2 and has allowed six runs on 20 hits in 31 1/3 innings for a 1.71 earned run average. He has 41 strikeouts in those five starts with 15 walks.

Over his last 17 starts, Kennedy is 6-7 with a 2.64 ERA with 105 strikeouts against 31 walks in 102 2/3 innings. The Padres are 9-8 in those games.

Kennedy's ERA has fallen from 7.15 to 3.88 since the start of June. It has gone down in 15 of his last 17 starts.
Kennedy did give up a game-tying home run to Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez Wednesday night. It was the 27th homer allowed by Kennedy this season - tying for the third-most in the National League - but the first allowed in his last three starts.

Kennedy and Tyson Ross have been the Padres two most dependable and consistent starters over the second half of the season.

FROM THE SCORECARD:

--Infielder Jedd Gyorko is 7-for-22 with three RBIs and two runs scored in a five-game hitting streak that includes three starts at shortstop and two at second base. Although his range hasn't been completely tested in seven starts at short, Gyorko has handled everything that has come his way without an error. He has also looked better than expected on several plays.

--Right fielder Matt Kemp drew a walk in five plate appearances Wednesday night to extend his streak for reaching base to 22 straight games - the longest such streak by a Padre since Chase Headley also reached base in 22 straight games from July 3-28, 2013. During the streak, Kemp is hitting .326 (29-for-89) with six homers and 26 RBIs.

--Shortstop Clint Barmes drove in all three Padres runs Wednesday night with a two-run double and an infield grounder. The three RBIs represented Barmes' first three-RBI game since Aug. 23, 2013. Barmes is 3-for-7 with two doubles, four RBIs and two runs scored in his last three games.

--Brett Wallace started at first base for the injured Yonder Alonso (lower back tightness) Wednesday and struck out in his at-bat - ending a string of getting hits in seven straight at-bats. Wallace finished 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to six straight games (8-for-11).