Chicago Cubs: Darvish steals headlines, but Hendricks dominates again
It seems like every single year, when the season ends, I write about how Kyle Hendricks pitched well, yet went through another campaign as one of the game’s most underrated starting pitchers. 2019 was no different as the Professor led the Chicago rotation with poise.
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The biggest story for Hendricks this year was his drastic home-road splits. When he toed the rubber at Wrigley Field, he was one of the most effective pitchers in all of baseball, working to a 2.04 ERA, 0.874 WHIP and 6.31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 home starts.
Away from the Friendly Confines, though, he was very beatable. Of his 19 home runs allowed on the year, 13 of them came on the road – and despite throwing more innings at home, he actually walked more batters in his road starts in 2019.
All of this evened out to another respectable, yet hardly ace-worthy line for Hendricks, who will pitch next season under the first year of his new contract, a four-year, $55.5 million deal with a vesting option for 2024.
Whether or not Hendricks can or will replicate his masterful 2016 performance remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, though. He looks to be the likeliest of the Cubs starting pitchers to age gracefully, given the fact he relies on location, not overpowering hitters with velocity, to get outs.
With Hendricks returning alongside Darvish, who turned in an absolutely masterful second half for Chicago in 2019 – the Cubs have a talented one-two punch atop the rotation. But they’ll need more consistency from Quintana (assuming they pick up his option for 2020) and a return to form from Jon Lester if they want to put together another deep October run next season.