Cubs News: Kyle Hendricks has a serious Great American Ballpark problem

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks struggled again in Cincinnati on Friday. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks struggled again in Cincinnati on Friday. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

For some reason, Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks has always struggled in Cincinnati.

You can’t say enough just how big of a steal the trade that netted Kyle Hendricks wound up being for the Cubs. In the deal that sent veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers back at the 2012 trade deadline, Chicago received Christian Villanueva along with the control artist.

Three years later, he was making his big league debut – and he’s never looked back. In over 1,000 big league frames, he carries a 3.18 ERA, an MLB ERA crown and a World Series ring. This year, he got the Opening Day nod for the first time in his career, tossing a complete game shutout to kick off the 2020 campaign. 

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Of course, he’s best remembered for his two pivotal starts during the Cubs’ 2016 postseason run. He was on the mound for the clincher in the NLCS at Wrigley Field, then kept his cool in Game 7 of the Fall Classic. Really, he’s been the same guy every time he takes the ball, no matter how big the moment or how seemingly insignificant.

But there’s been one thorn in his side during his entire career – Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Take this year, for instance. In his two starts on the road against the Reds, Hendricks has allowed 11 runs – with Chicago losing both of those contests. In his other five starts combined, opponents have tallied just nine runs.

Those two outings against the Reds have really blurred the picture on Hendricks’ performance this year. Just check out these numbers from Cubs beat writer Jordan Bastian.

There’s no rhyme or reason as to why Hendricks has struggled so much against the Reds on the road. But this isn’t a new development. In 10 career starts at Great American Ballpark, he carries a bloated 6.67 ERA with a 1.518 WHIP. He’s won just two of those contests.

During his career, Hendricks has always been better at Wrigley Field than away from it. That’s not new news to anyone who’s followed his career. But having him struggle this badly on the road against a division rival is certainly concerning for the Cubs, especially with the reloaded Reds eyeing a busy trade deadline weekend in hopes of a second-half run.

Next. Handing out the Cubs' midseason grades in 2020. dark

We know when it comes down to it, Hendricks and Yu Darvish are the team’s two best starters. They go about their business in very different ways. One just hopes that the former can get the monkey off his back in Cincinnati because it could become a major concern in 2020 and beyond.