Chicago Cubs: Evaluating the current state of Kyle Hendricks

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

It was smooth sailing for Kyle Hendricks against the Reds Thursday night until the wheels fell off in the sixth inning. While he certainly has not been awful this season, he has not exactly been himself.

The Chicago Cubs have prided themselves on having a pitcher like Kyle Hendricks on their roster. His career as an MLB hurler has been incredibly good and does not always get the credit he deserves. Three of his first four years in the majors he has sported in ERA of 3.03 or lower and he nearly won the Cy Young award in 2016.

This year has not been as smooth. After melting down in the sixth inning Thursday with several walks, his ERA went up to 3.73 on the season. His command went south and was pulled after walking in a run, his fourth of the game.

While his last start did not see this issue, his biggest bugaboo in 2018 has been the home runs surrendered. His career-high in a full season is 17 and he already has given up 14 this year.

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Has Hendricks really been “bad” though? His season numbers after Thursday include the 3.73 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 6.97 K/9, 2.73 BB/9 and 14 home runs given up. Note he entered Thursday with a 4.63 FIP. Some of these numbers are not to be desired, but some are actually not that bad.

Should we be worried about Kyle Hendricks?

Looking at the previous stats, it is easy to identify the issues. The FIP is high, largely because of the home run issues. The walks are slightly higher than normal, but his average BB/9 the past three years is 2.27. Not too far off. A 1.16 WHIP certainly is not bad either. He has averaged a 1.11 WHIP the past three years. Strikeouts are a bit lower considering the last three years his K/9 has ranged from 7.93 to 8.35.

Seems like Hendricks’ biggest problem is not locating quite as well as he had been in previous years. As a guy who throws 86-88 mph tops, he has to use the location or the ball can be hit a very long way. That is what he needs to get back. Otherwise he is still not doing terrible, just not as good as we are used to seeing him do.

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Mid-June? Probably too soon to panic. Concerned about the home runs? Sure, but know he can bounce back to form. The stats listed are through not even half of a season compared to his full years of work. Note he had a 4.09 ERA and 1.2 WHIP in the first half last year and put up a 2.19 ERA in the second half. Hendricks has still looked real good at times even when it is not as often as he usually shows.