Projections spell trouble for Hendricks
Last season was the best year we’ll ever see from Kyle Hendricks.
At least, that’s what Baseball Prospectus’ projections for the next few years tell us. Projections are hardly surefire figures, but, regardless, they always garner a great deal of attention this time of year.
The Chicago Cubs’ defense last year was one of the best units in baseball history, by multiple statistical measures. There was perhaps no one who benefited more from this defense than Hendricks, who limited opponents to a .250 BABIP in 190 innings pitched.
Every step of the way, Hendricks has seemingly outperformed expectations. That came to a clear head last season when he was a serious contender for the Cy Young Award in the NL. Next year, however, is projected to be more mild – still solid – but a far cry from what we saw in 2016.
His innings pitched will drop some 30 frames and his home runs and walks allowed will both increase, despite pitching fewer innings. His DRA (deserved run average, which takes into account all factors for a pitcher) will jump from 3.34 to 4.08 and his ERA will push 4.00 for just the second time in his career.
How can Kyle Hendricks beat the odds and remain a top-tier starting pitcher?
He has to hone in on the finer details of his game; continuing to pound the zone with sinkers and change-ups below the knees. Control what he can control, namely walks and home runs. More than anything, Hendricks needs to maintain the mental aptitude he’s become nationally-known for during the postseason last year.
If he does these things, he has a very good chance at being an ace for the Chicago Cubs in 2017 and beyond.