Cubs: At long last, things are looking up for Kyle Hendricks

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

There is no denying there were many uncertainties heading into the 2021 Chicago Cubs regular season. After the team traded their ace Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres, Chicago still went into 2021 with a saving grace in having Kyle Hendricks atop the starting rotation.

Unfortunately, the stability he’s provided during his career has waned early in 2021. At the beginning of the season, Hendricks had some solid starts and other not-so-solid starts. The bottom line is that he struggled and did not look like himself throughout April. Thus far,  Hendricks’ worst starts of the season came against the Atlanta Braves in April.

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On April 18, Kyle Hendricks made Chicago Cubs history and became the first pitcher to allow four home runs in the first inning. This was only the ninth time this happened in all of MLB history. If that wasn’t enough, this was the first time in Hendrick’s career that he allowed four home runs in a game. Hendricks exited that game after throwing 74 pitches in four innings. He gave up a total of seven hits which included those four homers. Most of the damage done came during that dreadful first inning where Hendricks threw 35 pitches and gave up six runs.

As the season has progressed, Kyle Hendricks finally got back into the swing of things and is beginning to look more like his ace-like self. The biggest and the most recent sign of the 31-year-old’s turnaround came last Sunday as the Cubs took on the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Throughout most of the game Sunday, Tigers hitters were unable to hit Hendricks’ sinker. He pitched eight-plus innings, did not give up any walks, and only allowed one run. That lone run was scored with right-handed reliever Dan Winkler on the mound. He also logged a career-high 31 called strikes.

Things are looking up for Chicago Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks

Not only did Hendricks call Sunday’s game a “turning point” for him in the season, but it is clear that his past three starts have signaled significant progress. In his first five starts of the season, Hendricks posted a 2.70 ERA, whereas, in his last three starts, he posted a 2.70 ERA with 17 strikeouts and two walks across 20 innings. There is an upward trend, and hopefully, things continue to look up for the veteran right-hander.

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Regarding the entire Cubs rotation, Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies are trending in the right direction. Adbert Alzolay proves himself to be reliable, Jake Arrieta is back from the IL to show what he’s got, and hopefully, Trevor Williams can hold it together. If the rotation gets on a roll, and Hendricks continues to tread in a positive direction, the Chicago Cubs still have a shot at October.