The Professor Teaches Athletics a Lesson

Kyle Hendricks

The success of the 2016 Chicago Cubs could very well rest on the shoulders of Kyle Hendricks. Yesterday, he pitched four scoreless innings on the way to a 3-3 draw over the Oakland A’s.

“I’m just trying to get ahead of guys, honestly, and just pitch my game,” Hendricks said. “I think it’s something early in spring that’s just working out. I’m not really thinking about it. I’m just trying to get in that rhythm, in my mechanics and I felt good today. My fastball command wasn’t great in the first three innings, and in the fourth I kind of found it again and got dialed back in. I felt good overall.”

We know that John Lackey, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and Jason Hammel are the front end of the rotation and they’ll do well. But it’s the back end that will tell if the Cubs are going to be successful or not.

In a game where it’s hard to retain a spot in the rotation, the Cubs are sticking with Hendricks despite a not so great season last year. They’re a stacked team so it would be easy to send a struggling pitcher packing so it shows the character of the team to put their faith in “The Professor”

“Part of that has been Joe,” Hendricks said of the Cubs manager. “They’ve shown confidence in me, they stuck with me last year when I was struggling. They’ve reiterated they have confidence in me and it gives me confidence in return. He trusts me to be myself, he doesn’t want me to be somebody I’m not and that feels good. I can go out there and be me and do my thing.”

Despite all of his mechanics problems last season, Hendricks is a student of the game and determined to work through his struggles.

Is he the hardest working pitcher in the game? He’s been working on his changeup.

“It’s been moving good, working good, and it’s one of those things that I lost last year in the middle of the year when I got out of my mechanics,” Hendricks said. “I didn’t have any depth on it, no angle last year. To see the depth and angle on it and the swings and misses is a good sign.”

I’m hoping that Hendricks has a bounce back season. He’s a peculiar pitcher that can throw batter’s timings off. When he’s good he’s outstanding but when he’s off his game, there’s not much there.

“So many things can happen, but I feel good. I felt good last spring,” said Hendricks.

On tap today, the Cubs face the San Diego Padres at Sloan Park. Last year’s Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta gets the start. Game time is 3:05 CT.

Believe it.

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