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

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Hendricks can’t make sense of the first inning

Setting the tone early in a ballgame takes a load off a pitcher. Getting out there, putting up a clean inning and getting your guys back to the dish? That does a lot for your confidence, especially when you’re struggling as Hendricks has this season.

In the first inning this year, opponents have put up a staggering .969 OPS against the Cubs righty. That has, in large part, led to his unsightly 8.55 first inning ERA this season. He carries a 13-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, so it’s not that he’s going down the Tyler Chatwood path of destruction.

If anything, he might be pounding the zone too much, as he seeks to find a rhythm early in the ballgame. Hitters are laying off pitches out of the strike zone, waiting for mistakes up and out over the plate.

Proof of this? Half of his 18 home runs allowed came in the first inning this season. The secret is out on Hendricks. He wants to establish the zone early – and, in doing so, opponents have learned to look for pitches to drive and have done so with great regularity early in ballgames.