Chicago Cubs: Looking back on some of Theo Epstein’s best trades
By David Miniel
One of Chicago’s postseason heroes was acquired from the Texas Rangers nearly five years ago in mid-July. At the end of the trade deadline, Texas agreed to acquire Ryan Dempster in exchange for two prospects.
One of those being right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks, who was later dubbed as The Professor, made his big league debut in 2014. Remember, the same year as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, and a few other big names.
In his first year of big league action, Hendricks showed signs of a potential No. 3 starter. Over the course of 13 starts, the young right-hander recorded seven wins with two losses. Not to mention, striking out 47 and walking 15 aside from yielding 22 earned runs.
At the end of the year, Kyle’s big league earned run average sat at 2.46. Signs of a promising 2015 but as expected, he had some consistency issues. Which happens to nearly every player in the big leagues.
From the bottom to the top
His first full year with the Cubs meant more innings for Kyle. Picking up 180 even, Hendricks was tagged for 79 earned runs on 82 hits which caused his ERA to swell up to 3.95 on the year. The postseason was no different.
Skipper Joe Maddon sent him to the mound twice. Once against St. Louis and the other against New York. Kyle received a no-decision against the Cardinals, giving up three earned runs in 4 2/3 frames.
Rather than sulking during the offseason, Hendricks went back to work. Improving his gameplan that didn’t involve blowing away hitters with speed. It worked in his favor. Hendricks ended the year with the lowest ERA (2.13 ERA) in the league and nearly took home Cy Young honors.
In addition to his marvelous regular season work, the then 26-year-old made history by helping the Cubs clinch the pennant. Thus opening the door for a Game 7 World Series start to cap off an amazing postseason stretch.
When it was all said and done, Kyle ended the playoffs with an ERA of 1.42. I’d expect him to compete for the No. 2 job behind Jon Lester.