It’s not been an ideal beginning for the Chicago Cubs started Kyle Hendricks. But that doesn’t mean the season is over with. He’ll look to get it turned around against another ace that been struggling in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gerrit Cole.
The Chicago Cubs had an offensive explosion in the opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs scored 14 times on 17 hits as they finished a 17-3 blowout of the Bucs in the opener. Now, the Cubs will hand the ball to Kyle Hendricks who hopes to find a bit of that magic–and velocity–that he had last season.
The Cubs (11-8) are looking much better offensively, but the starting pitching has fallen back since the first week of the season. Tonight’s matchup is a rematch of the series in Chicago which the Pirates (8-11) Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70) beat the Cubs and Hendricks (1-1, 6.19). Now that the bats are heating up, it’ll be up to Hendricks to pick it up on his end.
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It’s rare that I had the chance to say this last season, but Hendricks will have the support of Jason Heyward as he looks to stay hot to open the season. Heyward is batting .294 and leads the team with 16 RBIs. Addison Russell is coming off a four-hit game, while Ben Zobrist knocked in three in yesterday’s win.
For the Pirates, they’re still dealing with the loss of Starling Marte and having to make things work in the Pirate outfield. With Andrew McCutchen back in centerfield, John Jaso will get the start in right field while Gregory Polanco gets the start in left. Josh Harrison has been their leader at the dish, batting .293 with a home run and three RBIs.
We’ve talked about Hendricks and his dip in velocity to start the year, and it been the cause of his diminished effectiveness. The differential between his fastball and his changeup are key, and right now there isn’t much of one. His fastball is down from 87.7 mph to 85.4 mph, the second biggest drop in the majors.
Here’s are the lineups for tonight action:
First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT at PNC Park. The game will be on WGN for the television coverage and 670 The Score for the radio broadcast. Be sure to check back later on for post-game coverage and more from Cubbies Crib!