Chicago Cubs: This starting rotation could be even better than in 2016

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
3 of 6

Chicago Cubs need another strong campaign from Kyle Hendricks

Since making his Major League debut, Kyle Hendricks has a sub-3.00 ERA across 100 career games. Last year, he took a bit of a step backward (but still put up overall outstanding numbers).

In 24 starts, the soft-tossing right-hander put up a 3.03 ERA, 3.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 3.88 FIP. Those numbers are a far cry from his Cy Young runner-up campaign of 2016, but turned in quality starts in 14 of his 24 outings. The year prior, two of every three starts he made were quality starts.

So while not quite as lights-out, Hendricks enjoyed plenty of success. But with Jon Lester taking a step in the wrong direction and Jake Arrieta seeking greener pastures, the ‘ace’ title is there for the taking.

Darvish could conceivably become that guy, but having Hendricks at his best takes the pressure off his new teammate, who admitted he felt the pressure of his six-year, $126 million contract on Tuesday.

Keep the ball on the ground and limit home runs. Perhaps more than any other pitcher on this staff, Hendricks can take advantage of the defense behind him. If he does that, you’re going to see something very similar to his Cy Young-caliber 2016 season.