Small Change Coming for Hendricks? Dreaming on Old Keegan Thompson, Streaks Alive, and Other Cubs Bullets

Sorry for the late bullets this morning. Brett is still working his way back (no pun intended), and I still have some other “running-the-site” duties to address on any given day. To that end, we are working on some stuff that should continue to make the site faster and more stable!

We’ve also gotten rights to some MLB video, which you may have seen in some other posts. It wasn’t quite working correctly just yet (the ad was playing like over and over, which isn’t what’s supposed to happen), but we’ll get that sorted out and then that’ll be a nice additional thing we can offer here too. So that’s cool.

Oh, and while we’re doing META stuff, have you signed up for the Bleacher Nation newsletter, yet? Patrick’s been working really hard on it (especially to provide exclusive content just for the subscribers) and I think it’s been pretty great:

And, hey, one more thing: Patrick (and eventually Eli, too) are starting to do Minor League recaps, so our Cubs prospect coverage can keep going. Thanks for the patience there too, and drop him some feedback on those posts for what you want to see.

Okay, Cubs stuff now.

  • At The Athletic, Sahadev Sharma dug into Kyle Hendricks’ slow start, coming to some of the same conclusions I did yesterday (there’s reason for concern, but also reason for optimism … and also the Cubs really don’t have any other options at the moment). But the one thing I forgot to look at was the difference in his first, second, and third time through the order. Even if you would’ve guessed Hendricks was getting smoked on his third time through the order, I doubt you’d have guessed a 2.722 OPS. Which … you almost have to laugh. The sample is tiny, but that’s just not tenable.
  • If I had to guess what’s going on there, it’s the total abandonment of his curveball. From his debut through the 2022 season, Hendricks threw his curveball 9.1% of the time. Last year, his usage dropped to 3.5%. This season, it’s down to 2.9%, and he threw just two of them last game. Maybe he just doesn’t have a feel for it right now. Maybe it’s an overall change in philosophy (he obviously succeeded last season with dramatically reduced deployment). Or maybe he just hasn’t gotten a chance to use it as much yet because he’s getting bounced early and falling behind hitters more often. But Hendricks tends to find success the third time through the order because he starts using the curveball more later in games. Perhaps that’ll be an area of focus going forward.
  • One thing that might change, per Jordan Bastian at Cubs.com, a little more give-and-take with his catchers. Starting last season, Hendricks has been calling his own game via PitchCom. And obviously, for a veteran and extremely intelligent and prepared pitcher like Hendricks, that’s fine. But everyone seems to agree it might be time to start soliciting some more feedback from his catchers during games: That’s already been in the discussions, too,” Hendricks said. “Even if I am calling stuff, have them giving me more feedback. If they really want something, and they see me — if I’m getting predictable — yeah, help me out some more there. It needs to be, definitely, a better relationship there and not all on me.
  • In case you missed my deep dive yesterday, here ya go:
  • Yesterday, the Cubs optioned Jose Cuas to Triple-A Iowa, which means we’ll have a roster move to dissect later today. My guess is that Keegan Thompson is the guy coming up. Even though he’s not the only option, he is already on the 40-man roster and hasn’t pitched since Tuesday. And after a bad first outing (2H, 3ER, 2BB), Thompson has actually had three scoreless appearances in a row, each for more than one inning (combined): 5.0 IP, 1H, 2BB, 6K. What an absolute godsend it would be if he could come back and return to the guy he was in 2022: 1.47 ERA over 36.2 innings as a reliever.
  • All four MLB players who’ve reached base every game this season have their streaks intact. But Ian Happ (.421 OBP, 57 PAs) and Jose Altuve (.452 OBP, 62 PAs) have more PAs and/or better OBPs than Elly De La Cru (.375 OBP, 48 PAs) and Jared Kelenic (.517 OBP, 29 PAs). Happ will get a chance to extend his streak tonight against the hard-throwing Bryce Miller, who has historically been very stingy on the walks.
  • It wasn’t a perfect throw, but Pete Crow-Armstrong cut a runner down at the plate last night.
  • https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1778598178297635044

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    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

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