Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks is back, but he needs a legit number two
By Jake Misener
The Chicago Cubs offense didn’t exactly steal the show this week in the Big Apple, but Kyle Hendricks helped the team avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets on Thursday, winning his seventh consecutive start in a 2-0 victory.
Hendricks allowed just two hits, keeping the Mets off the board over six innings of work. He struck out seven and walked a pair in an effort that manager David Ross admitted wasn’t even his sharpest.
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The difference between what we’ve seen from Hendricks lately and what we saw early in the year is night and day. Having these starts where he lacks his best stuff but still gets the job done is big, especially in a rotation that’s tattered and torn right now.
"“At the beginning of the season, my timing was off; I was late coming out of my glove, so everything was flat,” Hendricks told MLB.com. “Everything was flat, it was all up in the zone, and I was leaving a lot of pitches [in the] middle. I made those adjustments that I needed to, but it’s a continual process. Mentally, it’s kind of calmed down, too. When you don’t trust it physically, you know you don’t trust your stuff, it’s hard going out there mentally to commit to a pitch every time.”"
Back on May 9, Hendricks’ earned run average peaked at 6.23. Since then, he’s won every time out, watching his ERA fall to a much more palatable 4.13 mark. Despite dropping three of four, the Cubs head into their upcoming five-game home stand in sole possession of first place in the division.
Chicago Cubs: Getting pitching reinforcements won’t be easy – or cheap
The trade market when it comes to starting pitching is a mess right now. Several potential tradable arms are currently sidelined due to injury – and there’s certainly no shortage of teams looking to bolster their staffs heading into the second half.
For the Cubs, it’s a dire need that will put Jed Hoyer and the front office in a tight spot. Last winter’s trade of Yu Darvish was meant to provide some needed financial relief while also adding to the prospect pool. A trade for a big time arm now could eat into that prospect capital, all but erasing the gains made in that highly-criticized move.
Seriously, imagine what this team could look like with Darvish still in the mix. The rotation would certainly feel a lot more stable and, with Hendricks rounding into form over the last month or so, the Cubs would have a legitimate one-two punch atop the mix.
The next six weeks will interesting, to say the least. Having Hendricks back on top of his game has been a godsend, but if he doesn’t get some reinforcements behind him, his efforts could wind up wasted in the end.