Hey, I Recognize This Guy – Kyle Hendricks Had a Very Good Game

When I placed a $100 bet on Kyle Hendricks to win the NL Cy Young award before this season began, I thought I was the smartest guy in the room. Even knowing how uniquely underrated he’s always been, +6,600 for a former ERA-leader and Cy Young finalist seemed like particularly strong odds (plus he just finished with 7th best ERA in the NL last season on the third most innings pitched in MLB).

And then this season started with an audible thud.

Unlike last year’s Opening Day complete game shutout against the Brewers, this year Hendricks opened the season with a 3.0 inning, 3 walk, 3 earned run turd against the Pirates. He had a brief bounce back against Milwaukee, but things were generally not great coming into yesterday:

4/01 v. PIT: 3.0 IP, 4H, 3ER, 3BB, 4Ks
4/07 v. MIL: 6.0 IP, 4H, 0ER, 1BB, 6Ks
4/18 v. ATL: 4.0 IP, 7H, 7ER, 3BB, 2Ks
4/23 v. MIL: 6.0 IP, 6H, 2ER, 1BB, 6Ks
4/28 @ATL: 3.2 IP, 11H, 7ER, 0BB, 3Ks

Even including the two solid starts against Milwaukee, Hendricks had allowed 32 hits and 8 walks (not to mention 19 earned runs) in just 22.2 IP in April. For context, he allowed just 26 earned runs and an identical 8 walks over 81.1 innings pitched all of last season.

But he finally turned things around with a dominant performance against the Dodgers yesterday afternoon, and it was beautiful to see. As just an example of how things seemed back, look at the beautiful tunneling here:

Altogether, Hendricks went the distance (7.0 innings in this one), becoming the first Cubs pitcher to record an out in the 7th inning this season, and his final line was mighty pretty: 7.0 IP, 7H, 1ER, 1BB, 6Ks. The only run he allowed came with one out in the 7th inning, when the Cubs were up 7. I’m pretty sure Hendricks was just pitching to end the game at that point, which is totally fine. And the outing took his 7.54 ERA down to 6.07 ERA.

You’ll likely notice that there were still a fair amount of hits spread out throughout the game, BUT I’ll remind you that the Los Angeles Dodgers have been the single best team against right-handed pitching in baseball this year (123 wRC+), and the I’m far more enthused by the fact that he walked just one batter, Justin Turner, in the 3rd inning.

Also good to see? The swings and misses. Hendricks racked up 12 whiffs yesterday, half of which came from his changeup (6). It was his most swings and misses this season, and just the second time he reached double digits.

Total Whiffs (Changeup Whiffs)

4/01 v. PIT: 5 (3)
4/07 v. MIL: 8 (6)
4/18 v. ATL: 7 (3)
4/23 v. MIL: 11 (5)
4/28 @ATL: 7 (5)
5/04 v. LAD: 12 (6)

As for why things were working last night, Hendricks would credit catcher Willson Contreras, as well as the lead his offense gave him, allowing him to be more aggressive in the zone (via Jordan Bastian at Cubs.com):

“I did a much better job, just intent-wise, going pitch to pitch,” said Hendricks, who credited catcher Willson Contreras for his in-game feedback. “Willy had me locked in on that.”

“The boys going out and putting up four runs early was huge to help me do that,” Hendricks said. “It gave me confidence to go attack, which I’ve been trying to do better — first-pitch strikes, attacking the strike zone.”

Naturally, Hendricks is very self-aware. Yesterday’s start resulted in a season-high 86.7%, which happens to rank very (very) highly throughout his career:

And when you’re getting ahead of batters – because you’re aggressive, because you have a lead, or both – good things tend to happen. It was a good game all around for Kyle Hendricks, and hopefully, something off of which he can build.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

more cubs news

REPORT: Cubs to Call Up Infield Prospect Luis Vazquez

A surprising report tonight ahead of tomorrow's off-day for the Chicago Cubs. Another infielder is coming up, and he'd be making his big league debut in the process. It's defensive stud Luis Vazquez, a guy whom many had been calling...

Enhanced Box Score: Pirates 3, Cubs 2 – May 19, 2024

The brutal, brutal run for the Chicago Cubs' offense continued today. It's really hard to win that way, and even harder to watch. Jameson Taillon was a touch better than his line today, without a lot of defensive help behind...

Pre-Gamin’: Pirates at Cubs (1:20 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

CUBS LINEUP — Well, the good news is that the Cubs have an off-day tomorrow and Dansby Swanson is targeting a Tuesday return from the IL. So no matter what, this SHOULD be the last day the Cubs middle infield...

Enjoying the Actual Walk-Off, Morel History, Leiter and Neris, Holy Brennen Davis, and Other Cubs Bullets

Despite everything, the Cubs are still three games up for the second Wild Card spot at the moment (and two games back in the NL Central). That's not a going-forward projection, it's just some context. The drama around the call...

The Pirates Can Be As Mad As They Like, But That Call Was Correct

If I were a catcher and wanted to record an out, I would simply not drop the ball. It's a jokey line, sure, but it's also correct in relation to yesterday's controversial conclusion. I think after seeing the replays of...

Wake Up and Watch Shota Imanaga Dominate and the Cubs Walk It Off

The Cubs pulled out a win in the bottom of the 9th yesterday, when Christopher Morel drove in Cody Bellinger to walk it off. The Pirates were undoubtedly displeased about the controversial ending, as it looked like Bellinger had been...

The Cubs Walk It Off on a Weird Play at the Plate!

Whew. That game was kinda dumb, but I tell you, the ending sure was fun. And also weird! So, to set the stage, the Pirates and Cubs' offenses could do nothing all day long. The game was still 0-0 in...


This guy. What do I even say? I was already kinda buzzy when Brennen Davis homered again - a grand slam - for the fifth time in six games, and sixth time in eight games. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. https://twitter.com/IowaCubs/status/1791967453888598441 Truly...

Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 1, Pirates 0 – May 18, 2024

What matters most is that the Cubs won the game. And it was a fun ending, too. So I'm happy. But I also do feel a little frustrated - or concerned might be the better word - as I'm sure...

Pre-Gamin’: Pirates at Cubs (1:20 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

CUBS LINEUP — Losing to the Braves (and then Jared Jones and Paul Skenes), when you have 10 people on the IL, including your entire middle infield, is not really that concerning to me. It sucks and banking losses is...

Latest News

How to Watch Royals vs. Tigers: Live Stream or on TV

On Monday, Michael Wacha will take the mound for the Kansas City Royals (29-19) against Reese Olson and the Detroit Tigers (23-23), with first pitch scheduled for 7:40 PM ET at Kauffman Stadium.The article below will provide you with everything...

Panthers vs. Rangers Stanley Cup Semifinals Game 1 Prediction: Odds, Picks, Best Bets – Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The oddsmakers are predicting a close contest between the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers on Wednesday in New York City, with the Panthers given moneyline odds of -115 and the Rangers at -105.Watch the NHL on Fubo!Panthers vs. Rangers...

How to Watch Astros vs. Angels: Live Stream or on TV

The Houston Astros (21-26), with Framber Valdez on the mound, host the Los Angeles Angels (18-29) who will start Reid Detmers, at 8:10 PM ET on Monday.Keep reading to find out how to watch the Houston-Los Angeles matchup in the...

How to Watch Braves vs. Padres: Live Stream or on TV

The Atlanta Braves (26-15), led by Marcell Ozuna, host Jurickson Profar and the San Diego Padres (23-24) on Monday at 12:20 PM ET.See how to watch the Atlanta-San Diego matchup below.When is Braves vs. Padres and when does it start?This...

Cardinals vs. Orioles: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

The St. Louis Cardinals (20-26), with Sonny Gray on the hill, host the Baltimore Orioles (29-15) who will start Dean Kremer, at 7:45 PM ET on Monday in a series opener.Find out how to watch the St. Louis-Baltimore matchup below.When...

Twins vs. Nationals: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

Pablo Lopez takes the ball for the Minnesota Twins (24-22) when they visit starter Mitchell Parker and the Washington Nationals (20-25) at 6:45 PM ET on Monday.If you're trying to watch this game, keep reading for streaming and TV options...

Brewers vs. Marlins: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

On Monday, in a series opener at LoanDepot park, Joe Ross takes the mound for the Milwaukee Brewers (27-19) against Ryan Weathers and the Miami Marlins (15-33), with first pitch scheduled for 6:40 PM ET.Keep reading to find out all...

Rays vs. Red Sox: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

Taj Bradley will take the ball for the Tampa Bay Rays (25-23) when they host starter Tanner Houck and the Boston Red Sox (23-24) in a series opener on Monday, with first pitch at 6:50 PM ET.Keep reading to find...

How to Watch Guardians vs. Mets: Live Stream or on TV

Ben Lively will take the ball for the Cleveland Guardians (30-17) when they host starter Tylor Megill and the New York Mets (21-25) on Monday, with first pitch at 6:10 PM ET.The article below will give you everything you need...

Yankees vs. Mariners: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

Marcus Stroman takes the mound for the New York Yankees (33-15) when they host starter Logan Gilbert and the Seattle Mariners (25-22) at 7:05 PM ET on Monday.Keep reading to find out all the details on how to watch New...

more cubs news