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Chicago Cubs: It took some time, but Kyle Hendricks has figured it out

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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If the Chicago Cubs are going to have enough in the tank to put together a strong second half and return to the postseason come the fall, it’ll take Kyle Hendricks in top form.

Thankfully, it looks like the former MLB ERA champion has put a rocky start to the year behind him. Hendricks won his eighth consecutive outing on Tuesday night, helping the club close out a homestand with a much-needed win over the Cleveland Indians in a rematch of the 2016 World Series.

"“It’s just a matter of time, man,” Hendricks told MLB.com after the game. “There’s going to be ups and downs. You know if you just keep them in it and keep it close, it’s just a matter of time until they break out. You kind of saw that tonight. We finally got some balls to fall in.”"

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The victory helped the Cubs keep pace atop the NL Central, where they’re tied with the Milwaukee Brewers. Chicago will go head-to-head with the Brew Crew next week, capping off a brutal stretch of schedule here in June. Getting a win before kicking off a multi-week road trip in Los Angeles on Thursday was huge – and, of course, it was Hendricks who delivered on the bump.

During his last eight outings, the Chicago right-hander boasts a 2.25 ERA. Back on May 9, Hendricks’ ERA peaked at 6.23. But since then, it’s fallen precipitously, all the way down a much more palatable 3.84 mark following his latest outing.

In the month of June, the Cubs can’t have asked for much more from their ace. He’s 5-0 with a 2.37 ERA and will get one more start before the calendar flips to July. Now, he alone isn’t enough to get the team rolling – but given how poorly the offense (and his fellow starters) have performed, he’s been the ‘stopper’ the team has needed during rough patches.

Chicago Cubs: You always knew Kyle Hendricks would get it rolling

When we’ve talked about his rotation mates (Jake Arrieta, Trevor Williams, Zach Davies) getting things turned around, it’s been, at best, with cautious optimism or even downright hopes and prayers. But when it comes to Hendricks, there’s never been that kind of doubt.

The guy’s resume speaks for itself. He started two of the biggest games in Chicago Cubs postseason history, won an MLB ERA crown and was a Cy Young finalist. He’s knocking on 200 starts in the big leagues and carries an ERA just over 3.00. Since 2016, he ranks sixth among MLB starters in earned run average, up there with names like Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.

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He’s the most underrated and under appreciated hurler in the game today. And, once again, on Tuesday night, he did what aces do: come through for his team.

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