Followers of my blog know about my admiration for Kyle Hendricks. He’s the type of pitcher who won’t fill the middle of the strike zone regularly, instead peppering the corners with his command. He did just that in yesterday’s 6-0 shutout of the Texas Rangers.
“Kyle’s one of the best pitchers in the National League now and nobody’s talking about it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hendricks. “Because he doesn’t throw 95 [mph], it’s easy to overlook this fellow, but I promise you hitters don’t really dig going up and facing this fellow, right or left-handed.”
Apparently, Joe isn’t one of those followers.
He’s in third place with a 2.41 ERA. In that regards, he’s one of the most dangerous pitchers in the game today. When the norm for fastballs is in the upper 90’s, Hendricks quietly gets the job done by putting his mechanics on display. This was his third straight win and now he sits at 8-6 on the season. To give you an example of how good Kyle Hendricks is, the other two pitchers in front of him are Clayton Kershaw(1.79) and Madison Bumgarner( 1.94). That’s awesome company. He does it without throwing those high octane fastballs.
“That start helped me a lot, just going that many pitches that deep in a game,” Hendricks said. “It gave me a lot of confidence to know I could still make a lot of pitches that deep into my pitch count. You have to learn how to go deep in games, and the only way you do that is by actually doing it. The fact that [Maddon] gave me the opportunity to do it was big.”
But it just wasn’t Hendricks that played well, the newbies Willson Contreras and Albert Almora both did amazing defensive work. Contreras threw out a steal attempt by Jose Bautista’s sparring partner Rougned Odor and Almora had an amazing catch in the fourth. Could it be that the Cubs are shifting their approach in the second half?
This is a huge series for the Cubs. Both teams could possibly face each other in the World Series, should it come down to that and beating the Rangers will send confidence throughout the team and pave the way when Dexter Fowler returns.
As for Kyle Hendricks?
“He’s been kinda like a tone-setter, man,” Maddon said. “It’s not unlike what Jake had done last year. He’s been that good. Just doing it in a different way.”
We know how Jake’s season turned out.