Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks continues to battle long ball, first inning woes

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
2 of 4
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Without location, Hendricks is in trouble

When Kyle Hendricks locates his change-up and sinker below the knees and gets swinging strikes, he can pitch with the best of them. But if those pitches stay up or his sinker leaks back over the heart of the plate against right-handers, things get ugly quickly.

He uses his sinker almost half of the time (46.3 percent) – mixing in his change (29 percent) to make up nearly two-thirds of his pitches. The right-hander lives and dies with his control – as heat maps indicate.

If Hendricks fails to keep pitches either A) down in the zone or B) on the corners, hitters tee off.  So far this year, hitters’ solid contact rate is up to the highest mark we’ve seen from him at 5.9 percent – above the league average of 5.5 percent. Similarly, his ground ball rate is the lowest he’s posted in the last four years.

So, as you might have put together, the fly ball rate? Yep. That’s up, too. And it’s contributed to Hendricks’ career-worst 18 home runs allowed. That mark is particularly worrisome given we still have two months of baseball left to play.

The story is the same as it always has been with soft-tossing guys. If you can’t hit your spots, you’re going to pay. And this season, perhaps more than ever before, Kyle Hendricks isn’t hitting his spots with any type of consistency.