Hendricks Happy to Be Back, Start Was Not Bad Under the Hood, Madrigal, Burdi, Palencia, and Other Cubs Bullets
Coming to Chicago this weekend with The Little Boy, who has not yet actually ever been inside Wrigley Field. So that’s going to be pretty awesome. (He better like it!)
- As I said yesterday and last night, the most important thing in a return after nearly a year away is that Kyle Hendricks looked and felt healthy. He got in the “moment” of the return, and now the business of fine-tuning the actual performance can begin. “It was so fulfilling to finally get back out there on that field,” Hendricks said, per the Sun-Times. “See the fans, run out with my teammates, just the little things …. Kind of an emotional day, everything building up to it. At the end of the day, just getting to this point and getting back out there was No. 1. Huge.”
- Upon reflection – getting out of the moment of it, and the heat of frustration that the Cubs were going to lose an opportunity to pull off the sweep – Kyle Hendricks’ start was kinda solid, albeit short. It was largely obscured by the .429 BABIP, which was not necessarily earned by the quality of contact:
- He wound up striking out five and walking two over his 4.1 inning first start, which on its own isn’t too bad, either (especially when you see the strikes he didn’t get that were touching the zone). Eight whiffs on 86 pitches, solid. A 31% CSW, good. The average exit velocity was just 86.4 mph, and he gave up just one barrel out of 14 batted ball events. The hard hit rate was a very small 28.6%. The only rub was that he got just two groundouts, which is not where he needs to be. Still, under the hood, there was actually a lot to like.
- Hendricks, himself, noted that sometimes bad-contact hits are going to fall in, like the four straight two-out, two-strike singles in the third inning (The Athletic): “That’s just another thing of being back out there. Finish, I gotta finish better. Make a couple better pitches. But I executed a lot of those. Some bad, soft contact, which is what I’m looking for. But just gotta do a better job in a baseball sense. Locking in on the task at hand, finishing that inning, getting it over with and getting the guys back in the dugout.”
- Average fastball velocity, by the way: 87.7 mph, which would be his fastest since 2016. So, if nothing else, the mechanical changes have worked on that front.
- Hendricks, of course, took Nick Madrigal’s spot on the roster, and here’s how David Ross framed the decision to option Madrigal to Iowa (Cubs.com): “He started off swinging the bat pretty good. We’ve got a lot of guys competing for playing time over there at third base, and there’s just not a lot of room for that skill set right now. [We’re] trying to get him back to being able to find his timing and put consistently good swings on the baseball. Getting on base is a high priority.”
- Madrigal is hitting just .247/.286/.301/62 wRC+ in sporadic duty, and although he was actually playing pretty well defensively at third base, I suspect the Cubs were honest with themselves about how little playing time there would be for Madrigal in the weeks ahead if Cody Bellinger returns healthy, and Christopher Morel occasionally has to split time with Patrick Wisdom at third base.
- Nick Burdi, who just went down with an appendectomy, joked with the Sun-Times that this would be an easy one for him, given that he’s recently dealt with two Tommy John surgeries and surgery to address Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. He won’t start baseball activities for at least a couple weeks, and then competitive pitching is probably a couple weeks behind that (if Trevor Williams’ timeline a couple years ago is any indication). The timing just stinks for Burdi, given all his work to get back to the big leagues, but hopefully he’ll come out on the other side no worse for the wear.
- Daniel Palencia made his relief debut last night for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs (also his Triple-A debut), and he went scoreless over an inning, striking out two and walking one. He touched 99mph consistently, and – according to Statcast, which we now have for the first time on him – the spin rate on his fastball was 28/2900 RPM(!).
- Miguel Amaya has not stopped hitting since his promotion (by way of Chicago) to Iowa – .345/.441/.483/143 wRC+ in nine games, and missed a homer by a foot last night.
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