If the minor league stats or how-low-can-you-go strikeout rates don’t worry you when it comes to Kyle Kendrick, how ’bout a bad spring training start? Keeping with an early trend that has seen key Phils’ hurlers struggle early this spring, Kendrick took it to another level with a miserable outing against the Braves yesterday as the Phils fell to Atlanta, 10-1. With the loss the Phils are 3-3 in spring training.

Kendrick was pounded for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. He allowed nine hits, seven singles and two doubles, and walked a batter. Over his 20 career starts Kendrick has allowed more than eight hits in a start just once despite the fact he generally pitched deep into games — he went less than five innings just once.

The games won’t matter till they matter, but there are going to be a lot of people looking for signs of a Kendrick collapse. I don’t think a collapse is inevitable, but at the same time I don’t think it’s reasonable to count on Kendrick to put up his ’07 numbers again over 30-plus starts in 2008. The whole thing just has to make you nervous. The fact that he won’t turn 24 till August. The comparison of his minor league numbers to what he did in ’07. The .321/.379/.549 that lefties hit against him last season. Above all is the lack of options if he does struggle — the Phils have a weak rotation with a solid Kendrick. They’ve already had their emergency, already broken the glass and came up huge. But the well where you call up the 22-year-old from Double-A and he goes 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 20 starts isn’t one you want to count on going to very often.

Kendrick is going to get a lot of chances this season and he’s earned them. I don’t think the question is whether his ’08 numbers are going to be worse than his ’07 or not. It’s how much worse. And while a replication of his ’07 numbers seems unlikely, it’s important to remember that he could be significantly less effective in ’08 and still be the Phillies’ third best-starter.

In yesterday’s game, after Kendrick got hammered Rosario came in and was brilliant, which would have been the story of the day had it not been for the early innings run-the-bases day for the Braves. The out of options Rosario threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings, holding the Braves to two hits while striking out four. Vic Darensbourg followed with a scoreless frame before Gordon started the bottom of the eighth with the Phils down 7-1 and had another bad outing. He gave up three runs on three hits, including two doubles and a walk. Due to an error by Dobbs, only one of the runs was earned.

Dobbs’ error was one of three the Phillies made on the day.

Despite all the warning signs about Kendrick, if you only have time to worry about one guy and have to choose between Gordon and Kendrick, I don’t think you can go wrong with picking Gordon.

At the plate the Phils scored their only run on an RBI-single by Howard in the first. Victorino had two hits, including a double, which was the only extra-base hit for the Phils on the day. Bruntlett stayed hot with another hit in his lone at-bat, he’s hitting .467 early.

Split-squad action today against the Blue Jays and Tigers. This lists the Phils expected to pitch in each of the games.

This suggests that Kendrick’s outing yesterday wasn’t as bad as the numbers suggest.

Smoltz suggests Hamels “just pitch.”

Ruben Amaro says he thinks Randy Wolf didn’t want to play in Philadelphia in this article.