The Decision to Leave in Hendricks, the Missing Meatballs, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Decision to Leave in Hendricks, the Missing Meatballs, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

My body is all day-after-tight from being so tense for a few hours yesterday. I kinda forgot what that was like, having only experienced it once before in the last three years (and that was two years ago). Ah, playoff baseball. It’s great, I want it every year, but I sure don’t handle it too well.

•   With a day to reflect, I’m still not gonna totally blow up David Ross for his decision to stick with Kyle Hendricks in the 7th inning yesterday. Like I said even before the homer, it was clear that Hendricks was not at his sharpest on the day, but he did start to get the curveball and changeup working in the 5th and 6th innings. Letting him start the 7th, facing three straight righties, made sense to me. You get Jeremy Jeffress up if there’s trouble, and see how it unfolds. Where I obviously disagreed with Ross was that, once Hendricks was over 100 pitches and had given up back-to-back 102-mph rocket singles before the lefty Corey Dickerson came to the plate, I would’ve made the switch to Jeffress, who has had so much success in dirty situations, and also handles lefties well. I don’t think Ross was crazy for sticking with Hendricks, though, so that’s why I won’t crush him. I just disagreed. Jeffress didn’t have great stuff yesterday either, though we can’t know for sure how things would’ve played out. In sum, I didn’t like the decision, but I didn’t think it was blast-worthy. Kyle Hendricks is quite good.

•   All that said, I kinda hate the explanation on why Ross stuck with Hendricks for Dickerson. In his post-game comments, Ross referenced Hendricks’ past success against Dickerson, specifically … a guy he’d faced only a few times since 2018, and a guy who’d already lined one out but hard to left and walked on the day. Now, Hendricks was seeing him for the fourth time on the day. Given how the day developed, too, of course Dickerson was sitting dead red on a first-pitch 87 mph fastball located middle out, and he destroyed it:

•   With apologies to Hendricks, who said after the game it was a good pitch that Dickerson just got, that’s not a good pitch. If the intention was to throw that one middle-out, it was a mistake: yes, Dickerson has whiffed at a lot of pitches there this year, it’s also his highest line drive rate zone and his highest slugging zone (via Statcast, view from behind the batter):

•   Staying away from Dickerson is good. But if you leave it belt high, he’s gonna crush it. Which he did.

•   On the Jeffress-Aguilar homer, that was also a poorly-located pitch, especially on 1-2, but it was also definitely a pop fly that the wind carried out of the park (97.7 mph off the bat at 35 degrees – that’s usually just a deep but lazy fly ball). Not that it wound up mattering in the final accounting, since the Cubs couldn’t get any up in the air.

•   Speaking of which, I’m not sure what else to add to the offensive problems:

•   Fully embracing heel mode, I see:

•   To that end, I say: if the freaking Houston Astros get to move on to the LDS in a year when the Cubs get swept out of it? I’m gonna be so pissed. Ditto the Cardinals, who beat the Padres yesterday. The Brewers lost to the Dodgers last night, for what that’s worth.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.