As Jon Lester notched his fifth career All-Star selection, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana need to capture some of that magic if the Chicago Cubs are to succeed.
For Kyle Hendricks, it has not been good to this point. To say the least, he has not pitched up the standards we’ve grown accustomed to. His 3.92 ERA marks his highest since 2015 (3.95 ERA in 32 starts). At that point, the right-hander slotted in near the back of the Chicago Cubs rotation.
Of course, he is now a far cry from a number four or five arm. Two years ago, he put together a career year, winning the MLB earned run average title. He turned in 190 innings, finished with a career-best 4.5 WAR, a 3.20 FIP and 8.05 K/9 to go with his sterling 2.13 ERA.
This season, those numbers are completely different. His 4.57 FIP is a career worst for the soft-throwing Hendricks. He currently carries a 0.8 WAR a little more than halfway through the season. His 6.77 strikeouts per nine also mark a career-low.
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However, there is reason to believe he can turn it around. First, he’s experienced. Hendricks had his ups and downs last season, like most of the pitching staff, but really turned it on in the second half – posting a 2.19 ERA, 8.31 K/9 and 3.38 FIP in the second half.
His last time out? Hendricks pitched into the ninth – something he hadn’t done since the 2016 campaign. He allowed just five hits and one unearned run in his outstanding effort against the San Francisco Giants. In other words, we’ve seen Hendricks put it together when it matters most.
Quintana better than fans think
Jose Quintana, overall has been good in his role as the third starter. His importance grew dramatically when Yu Darvish suffered a triceps injury. However, for some reason, the eye test declares other wise.
Maybe it’s because he’s only pitched into the seventh inning twice all season. He’s only lasted into the sixth inning in five of his 14 starts, after all. Maybe the expectations are too high for him from a fan perspective considering the high-level prospects the Cubs traded away for him?
Nonetheless, Quintana has a 3.00 ERA in his last 14 starts. He’s also coming off arguably his best start of the season against the Giants, on the road, where he pitched six innings and allowing zero runs.
The second half is still big for Q as the Cubs progress into the second half, especially since we still don’t know when Darvish will return. He will be key in a rotation that needs to put together more consistent innings to help keep the bullpen healthy heading to October and especially if the Cubs intend on playing into November.