Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks slow start is nothing to worry about
I’ve been on the Chicago Cubs’ bandwagon of Kyle Hendricks since the beginning. I could see why people say they could see Greg Maddux in him. He’s not quite there, but while the start to this season is slow, his career has been all we could hope for.
For the Chicago Cubs‘ Kyle Hendricks, there’s one helpful thing after having a season like he did last year. He’s able to pick the brain of fellow starter Jake Arrieta on lofty expectations following a stellar season. After leading the NL in ERA, Hendricks got his name out to the rest of the league. There wasn’t going to be any “sneaking up” on opponents this season.
First, Hendricks hasn’t been a fast starter in his career. In 2015 he was 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA in 20 2.3 innings. The following year he was 1-2 with a little better of an ERA with a 3.91 in 23 innings. And this season in April he’s 1-1 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings. He didn’t come up until July of 2014, so I left those stats out, focusing more on the start of the season.
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After Arrieta’s Cy Young season, fans seemed to critique his performances more harshly. He was still a dominant pitcher, and the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in two games he started in the World Series. But a comment about how many wild pitches he threw, or how his control would elude him at times would always follow. While it may have been true, it seemed to dominate the headlines of his starts.
So here’s the Ivy League grad Hendricks, trying to deal with some of the same things that Arrieta had to go through following his marvelous season. But he doesn’t throw as hard as Arrieta. And he certainly doesn’t have the beard. But some are taking the start and defining Hendricks by it, and that’s ridiculous. The league has adjusted, so now he will need to do the same. And for a guy to lead the NL in ERA while only throwing in the mid to high 80’s? He’ll make those adjustments.
Coming into the 2017 season, the numbers on Hendricks were impressive. A 31-17 record, 2.92 ERA and a 1.070 WHIP. He’s gotten out of the gate slow, but that’s no surprise. It was also a long season for the Cubs. Winning the World Series can do that. And Hendricks has admitted that he hasn’t felt quite right.
"“I just don’t feel strong out there, so I got to get my arm strength and feel like I can step on it (and) get the velocity back. And then from there, my changeup will just play off it.”"
Hendricks throws two different changeups, and if the velocity of the fastball isn’t quite there, neither will be as effective as they were last season. Manager Joe Maddon has seen the same thing from the dugout and has no worries that Hendricks will pick it up soon.
"“Right now, there’s not a dramatic separation between the two pitches, and that’s where the disconnect is for him now. I’m fully confident that he’s going to get that uptick in velocity back. And then you’ll see that greater separation, and then you see the bad swings.”"
Cubs’ fans are wired differently, even though we all love our Cubs. Some see this slow start and immediately think “Oh no, here we go again.” Some have blind faith–or confidence–and see this team being the same one they were last season. That may be true, but always believing things are fine doesn’t make them that way.
Next: Don't be discouraged Cubs' fans
But it truly is a small sample to start the year. And the Cubs are just a game behind the Cincinnati Reds as they head to Great American Ballpark for a weekend series against them. As “bad” as this club has looked at times, it isn’t that bad. Not for Hendricks. And not for the Cubs.