If the Chicago Cubs actually plan on turning this thing over in short order and avoid a lengthy rebuild as Jed Hoyer has publicly stated, Kyle Hendricks will likely be a big part of the plan.
The veteran right-hander proved just how valuable he can be to a team desperate for consistency once again on Friday, leading Chicago to a badly-needed second half-opening win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix, giving him a league-best 12 wins on the season.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
Hendricks has started some of the biggest games in Cubs history, but has always been praised for his ability to tune out distractions, lock in and get the job done every five days. That ability is particularly valuable right now, as trade speculation continues to swirl around the team that looks like sure-fire sellers.
"“You just have to keep reminding yourself we’re going to be playing baseball no matter what and it happens all the time, guys come and go,” Hendricks told MLB.com. “It’s unfortunate, it’s part of the game. You get close with guys, and they leave. But everyone that enters this clubhouse is a part of the family, whoever we have at the moment, so that’s what we focus on.”"
The 2016 ERA champion has been on a roll since early May, when his ERA peaked at 6.23. Since then, he hasn’t lost a start – and has allowed more than three earned runs only once. His earned run average has plummeted during that span, all the way down to 3.65 following Friday’s victory.
Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks joins Jake Arrieta on a historic list
Hendricks became just the fifth Cubs pitcher in the Modern Era to pick up a win in 10 consecutive outings – with the most recent being Jake Arrieta during his 2015 NL Cy Young campaign. That year, Arrieta ran off 11-straight starts with a ‘W’, en route to the league’s top pitching honors.
Funnily enough, though, while everyone was talking about the bearded hurler that year, Hendricks has – true to character – gone relatively unnoticed yet again. By the time he hangs up his spikes, this guy is going to go down as one of the most underrated players in Chicago Cubs history.
We don’t know what the next two weeks will bring for the team or Hendricks. Regardless, he continues to show that, while he may not get the high-profile attention of a Kris Bryant or Craig Kimbrel, he’s every bit as valuable to this team now – and moving forward.