As Kyle Hendricks goes, so go the Chicago Cubs. That’s pretty much how it’s been for the right-hander’s entire career – and, so far in the 2021 season, it’s been the same this year.
Heading into his start in the series opener against Milwaukee Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, he carries an unsightly 6.92 ERA, 8.08 FIP and a completely out of character 1.71 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His last time out, after a lengthy layoff due to a COVID scare, he made history: allowing four first-inning home runs against the Braves on Sunday Night Baseball.
"“It was just, obviously, not very good overall from the start,” Hendricks said. “Not aggressive. Falling behind guys. And then just everything was flat.”"
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MLB.com pegged Hendricks as the Cubs’ likeliest candidate to turn things around in a recent piece and, I have to say, it would be hard to not have faith in the man who’s started some of the biggest games in franchise history looking as cool as a cucumber the whole time.
He’s not the type to panic or get overwhelmed by a slow start. Sandwiched in-between his two clunkers? A typical Hendricks outing: six scoreless outings, six punchouts and one walk. Chicago is hoping there’s more of those types of starts to come – especially on Friday, taking on division-leading Brewers.
Cubs face a hot Brewers ball club
The Brewers are off to a hot start, despite the loss of former NL MVP Christian Yelich. The team’s starting pitching has been otherworldly – working to a 1.99 ERA in its first dozen starts, limiting opponents to a .173 average for good measure.
Given how well Milwaukee’s pitching is performing, the Cubs’ bats – which have looked much improved over the last week or so – will face a tough test this weekend. More importantly, though, Chicago needs its starters to pull their weight, something that, by large, they haven’t done to this point.
Friday afternoon. A 1:20 start at the Friendly Confines. Only way it could be better is if Hendricks gets things back on track and leads the Cubs to a win in the opener.