Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks (12-7, 2.19 ERA) probably won’t be hearing any pregame advice from Joe Maddon before his start against the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-62) tonight.
“I really try to avoid those conversations because I could just mess him up,” Maddon said before Monday night’s series opener. “Guys like Kyle that are going that well, I’m just there to reinforce. After he comes out of the game, I’ll encourage him, tell him how wonderful he was, how well he did.”
As the professor of the Chicago Cubs (83-47) rotation, Hendricks sets an example of consistency for the rest of the pitchers. He is among the hottest pitchers post All-Star break, going 8-1 in his last 12 starts.
Hendricks hasn’t allowed more than three runs since May 22nd—the longest such streak by any pitcher this season. His 2.19 ERA is also the lowest among qualified starters in the league.
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Maddon knows better than to mess with success.
Opposing the silent stud of the Cubs rotation is Chad Kuhl (3-1, 3.50 ERA), a rookie making his second start against Chicago, ninth overall. Kuhl is averaging just over six innings per start this year. In 43.1 innings, he’s issuing 2.3 BB/9 and 8.2 H9,
Righties have a tough time hitting Kuhl, slashing .217/.372/.270 in 2016. Even so, batters are hitting .275 or better against three out of his four pitches. Batters are making contact with pitches inside the strike zone 88%+ of the time, resulting in a .263 BABIP.
“I had this belief in myself,” Kuhl told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s all I and my family ever wanted was a shot. I got my shot.”
Kuhl’s not afraid of contact because of the defense behind him, but Maddon stacked the lineup with power tonight, to take advantage of the high contact rate.
Baez is batting leadoff for just the fourth time, slashing .286/.357/.643 with two stolen bases and one RBI in three appearances.
Miguel Montero will catch Hendricks tonight after his late night heroics in Game 1, bat seventh.
The lineups for tonight’s game are as follows: