Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks: From under the radar to postseason ace

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: Kyle Hendricks
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 31: Kyle Hendricks /
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CHicago Cubs
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs find a diamond in the rough

The following season, Hendricks fully showcased his abilities and surprised the baseball world. Going 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA and an incredible 0.979 WHIP, the right-hander pitched well beyond his perceived abilities.

His ERA for 2016 led all of baseball and earned him a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young race. Not a bad return for an aging pitcher in the twilight years of his career. In fact, many considered the Rangers’ package for Dempster to be rather weak. It’s fair to say things worked out favorably for Chicago.

Hendricks did not disappoint in 2017, either. Stretches of inconsistency and minor injuries aside, he put together another successful season. Not quite on par with his ostensibly irreplicable 2016 season, but still highly effective, Hendricks went 7-5 with a 3.03 ERA.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Hendricks’ style of pitching is his lack of “heat.” He’s proven he doesn’t need it. His average fastball velocity across four seasons, according to FanGraphs, is 88.1 mph. The average fastball velocity in 2017 was 93.0 mph, so Hendricks does not have a flamethrower for an arm.

Instead, he relies on precisely locating his pitches, particularly with his sinker and curveball. He mixes these pitches in with his changeup and cutter to keep hitters honest.