Steady success annually for Hendricks
He hasn’t been a Cy Young contender for his entire career, but Kyle Hendricks has quietly earned a good reputation in Chicago.
With a career 2.92 ERA and 1.070 WHIP over three campaigns, the success that came to a head in 2016 is no fluke. Opposing hitters have been unable to muster a .300 OBP against Hendricks, batting just .228.
As he’s developed into a mature big-league arm, Hendricks has learned to change speeds and locations to keep hitters off-balance.
Per Fangraphs, the average velocity on his four-seam fastball last season failed to crack 90 mph; yet hitters batted just .167 against that pitch.
Hendricks relies heavily upon his sinker, throwing it some 45.5 percent of the time in 2016. When he locates this pitch well, he’s virtually unhittable.
Controlling the cutter
Throwing it as much as he does has resulted in more contact from opposing hitters. Opponents carry a career .277 clip against that pitch from Hendricks, as opposed to a .148 mark on his strikeout pitch, the change-up.
Perhaps the most notable change for Hendricks last season was his ability to miss more bats with the cutter. Since being called up to the Chicago Cubs in 2014, he’s struggled to execute with that pitch.
In ’14, opponents batted .278 against Hendricks’ cutters; the next season, a similar mark at .273. Last year, however, when he seemed to really turn the corner on the mound, the Dartmouth alum limited hitters to a .189 clip.
There haven’t been many drastic alterations to what Kyle Hendricks does on the mound. It’s simply come down to better execution. Given he does not rely on one particular pitch for outs, it’s feasible to think he’ll continue to rank as one of the team’s best arms.