The Cubs beat the Pirates 3-0 yesterday. No big deal, right? Another win, magic number is 18.
Except for this guy.
My first impression of Kyle Hendricks a few years ago was that he looked like the kid who showed up one day at camp saying things like,”I know how to throw” followed by some ribbing from the other players and I’m sure Hendricks filled a bucket watching the other starters throwing heat. When he walks off the mound, it looks like he’s trying to apologize to the batter for striking him out. Those were and are couple of impressions I have from the pitcher known as “The Professor”
Not a Cy Young contender and certainly not the frontrunner for ERA title. There’s no other word for Kyle Hendricks, but awesome.
“He comes in every day and does his work, and executes his game plan really good,” Anthony Rizzo said of Hendricks, who began the season as the Cubs’ fifth starter. “He’s not a guy who’s getting away with plus-plus stuff. He’s executing his game plan, and he attacks hitters and he studies hitters. He went to Dartmouth and has a really good education.”
Not only has Kyle Hendricks lowered his ERA to 2.09 but he put another notch in the win column and now has 13 for the season. He even has the lowest ERA at home in the majors with 1.21. When voters look at the win column before the overall picture, they’re missing out on what this kid can do.
“He has to be Cy Young contention,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Put the radar gun in your back pocket and look at what he’s doing. There has to be strong consideration.”
They’re all right. He has to be in contention. C’mon, he’s allowed three or less runs in 18 straight starts. There’s nothing flashy going on with him, but he’s getting things done. I guarantee he’ll never be that kind of pitcher who gets a perfect game or delivers a no-no. He’s just not that type of thrower, but what he does is dismantle batting orders so meticulously that instead of having the nickname of “Professor” they should be calling him “Assassin” or “Sniper”
“It’s a different game. I’m definitely a different pitcher than those [hard-throwing] guys. I’m just out there trying to pitch my game. Using the two-seam and four-seam fastballs, they don’t have the velocity, but it gives them two different looks.” Hendricks said.
So when John Lackey gets back to business, the Chicago Cubs have decisions to make with Hendricks. Do they put the guy in who brought them to the show, or do they go with that veteran experience? No matter how the Cubs do in the playoffs, Kyle Hendricks has been teaching everyone a lesson.
“It means a lot in a way,” Hendricks said. “Where I was at last year, and my goals coming into this year, I definitely didn’t see myself a part of that, or I had my sights a little lower. To be up there, I’m taking it in stride. To stay there, I have to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing is consistency and keep a simple mind set.”
He deserves the Cy Young Award.