Kyle Hendricks – SP
I always like to feel like I was on the Kyle Hendricks “bandwagon” before, well, there was one. The comparisons were there. He reminded people of Greg Maddux. But of course, he wasn’t him. The velocity was similar and Hendricks loved to throw changeups and work the zone. You can remind people of someone, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be them. And then cue the 2016 season.
When you look at last season compared to that of 2015, not a lot stands out. The innings pitched, strikeouts, walks and home runs are all very similar. What isn’t is the 2.13 ERA that led the NL last season. Hendricks dropped it from 3.95 the year before. Was this a fluke? Did the numbers look good because he played for a better team? I mean, Jason Hammel won 15 games and he didn’t pitch as well as Hendricks.
Hendricks is the real deal
This was no fluke. Hendricks was precise in picking apart hitters and their approach. The one place he did benefit was in the defense behind him. And while that helped, it was his execution that helped him win the ERA title and garner him a third-place finish in the Cy Young.
But while many don’t see him replicating last season, I see him improving on it. He’s worked to improve his curveball, making it more than just a “get me over” pitch. With so many quality pitchers in the National League, Hendricks might not win a Cy Young or finish in the top three in voting. But that’s not an indicator that his season won’t be better. The professor is going to be holding class all summer.