Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks is poised for an ace-like showing in 2020

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Kyle Hendricks will be entering his seventh big league season in 2020. A rock in the Chicago Cubs rotation for years, what should we expect in 2020?

Kyle Hendricks has been one of the most underrated pitchers in all of baseball throughout his career. The soft-tossing right-hander made his MLB debut in 2014 with the Cubs and has played an integral role in the team’s success since.

Texas drafted Hendricks in the eighth round of the 2011 Draft. Just ahead of the trade deadline a year later, he came to Chicago in the deal that sent veteran hurler Ryan Dempster to Texas.

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Hendricks has been terrific since coming to the North Side in that trade. In 162 starts, Hendricks is 63-43 with a 3.14 ERA with  818 strikeouts and a 1.114 WHIP of 1.114.

His best season by far was the 2016 campaign, in which he led all big league starters in ERA at 2.13 and finished third in Ct Young voting, alongside second-place finisher and teammate Jon Lester.

Playing on the national stage in 2016 helped Hendricks really make a name for himself. He immediately drew comparisons to former Cub and Hall of Famer Greg Maddux because of his ability to hit his spots and keep hitters off-balance.

Hendricks had some huge starts in the postseason that year. He took the ball in the two biggest games the Cubs played in during their historic postseason run, Game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley and then Game 7 of the World Series in Cleveland.

It seems like he doesn’t get the respect he deserves because he’s not lighting up the radar gun like Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer. He plays the finesse game with movement on all his pitches because he’s smart enough to understand that he can’t beat guys with his velocity.

Before the start of the 2019 season, Hendricks signed a four-year $55.5 million contract extension. This was great news for Cubs fans especially with how these last two offseason have gone – with a lack of major free agent signings or even extensions with key members of the core.

Chicago was able to lock Hendricks for the next four years with a team option for 2024. This was a really good move for both sides as the Cubs get to keep one of the most reliable starting pitchers in the game and Hendricks gets paid and gains some long-term stability.

Hendricks had a solid 2019 for most pitchers. He posted a 3.46 ERA in 177 innings of work, with 150 strikeouts and a 129 ERA+. Let’s not forget his masterful 81-pitch ‘Maddux’ outing against the Cardinals back in May, either.

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Looking forward to Hendricks’ 2020, I expect another really strong showing. I fully expect him to be that rock that he has been his entire career. What he needs to be is the guy who doesn’t get too high or too low – a stable presence in the rotation. Any time this guy takes the ball, you have to feel confident – despite the lack of acclaim he receives.