Kyle Hendricks has been disappointing this season. He has been very inconsistent, and in a stretch up until recently, very bad. He has been completely horrid in the first inning, and while that continued tonight, Hendricks looked quite good overall.
Although he only went five innings, his line was good. He finished with: 5ip, 5H, 2ER, 0BB, and 3K’s. He threw 102 pitches, which is why he only went five innings, and threw 65 for strikes. Outside of one mistake pitch to Eric Hosmer, Hendricks had a very solid night.
The most encouraging stat from this start is the number zero. Kyle had zero walks. He had as many as 4 over his previous seven starts, and always had at least one during each appearance.
Though his pitch count was high and his appearance was shorter than what would be wanted from a pitcher like Hendricks, having no walks is a very positive sign. If Hendricks can continue to attack the strike zone and keep hitters from getting a “free pass” his struggles will go away with the walks.
Part of his success comes from relying on his fastball less. He was relying on it on average 64% throughout the season, but has relied more on his secondary pitches during his recent stretch of success.
Throughout his career, Hendricks has relied on his curveball a tick under 8% of the time, though this year it is at only 6.1%.
While this does not look like a huge change, having confidence in your secondary pitches is key, especially when you do not have the velocity on fastballs. He is also relying on his changeup more, throwing it nearly 1/3 of the time. That does seem to be his “signature” pitch, but relying on a changeup can be dangerous, especially if left up in the zone.
The bullpen was an issue tonight, giving up four runs in 4 innings of work.
Thankfully, the Cubs offense, which has been wildly inconsistent this season, was on fire tonight. Homers from Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber helped keep the lead for the Cubs, who scored 11 runs, with support from 7 different players who either scored a run or had an RBI.
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