Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks has started like this before

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 06: Willson Contreras
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 06: Willson Contreras /

We’re only two games into the season, but Chicago Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks isn’t off to the greatest start. Except for the last three years, this is exactly what he’s gone through.

Over the last two years, Chicago Cubs‘ starter Kyle Hendricks hasn’t been an impressive starter to the season. Of course, it’s not how you start the season–but how you finish. After winning the NL ERA title in 2016 with a 2.13, then finishing with a 3.03 last year? You might think he started the season well. Fact is, neither was acceptable to Hendricks expectations.  But what does Hendricks do when things aren’t up to his liking? He changes them.

More often than not, poor performances can be attributed to the cold weather. The bitterness makes it hard to get a grip on the ball. The only problem is that Hendricks hasn’t had to play in frigid weather. Miami, Milwaukee, Arizona. These are places that have an indoor park or are relatively warm. So that’s not the case.

Something about the number three

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So what is it? There’s something about the number three. As in three starts. In the last two seasons, he came out of the third game each year with an ERA of 4.50 and 6.19, respectively. Now, I don’t want to alarm anybody here. I’m new to the metrics game, and I’m still getting my feel for it.

But merely looking back at the past two seasons, I don’t think Hendricks will pitch a great game. Doesn’t mean he’ll take the loss. But maybe a three to four-run outing in five innings? I’m spitballing here, so don’t shoot the messenger.

Fourth game is the charm

But after the third game, Hendricks tends to settle in and pitch much more to his liking. Does he have poor games? Sure. Every starter has a few. Last year he had back-to-back mediocre games against the Padres and Cardinals.

But that was right before he went on the DL, so he gets a pass on that. On May 17, 2016, against Milwaukee? He gave up four runs in a loss to the Brewers. It’s not an exact science. But the proof is in there.

Next: Bullpen is off to a hot start

The Cubs take on the Pirates today, and Hendricks will go to the mound for his third start of the season. Last time out, Hendricks was bitten by the long ball as he allowed two in the loss (no-decision). There’s no rhyme or reason to his outings as far as what has made him struggle. It simply might be he takes a while to get going.

But honestly, I’ll take the three poor outings if he’s going to finish like he did the last two seasons. It’s a small price to pay for a pitcher that continues to defy the odds with his ability.