Chicago Cubs: Hendricks and Quintana to increase off-speed pitch usage

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana will both be featuring more off-speed pitches, and hopefully swings-and-misses, this season.

Spring Training is well underway for the Chicago Cubs, and most of the pitching discussions surround the progress of Yu Darvish and the search for basic competency by Tyler Chatwood. However, some changes by Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana could end up having the biggest impact on Cubs’ pitching this season.

After giving up no runs on two hits and no walks over two innings pitched against the Oakland Athletics on Feb. 28, Hendricks told reporters that his curveball will be a “point of emphasis” this season. Quintana, after a similar outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks the next day, told the media that he “focused on [his changeup]” this past offseason.

According to FanGraphs, Hendricks’s curveball made up 7.5 percent of his pitches last season, making it by far his least used pitch behind his fastball, sinker and changeup. However, Hendricks had this to say to the media regarding his curveball after his Spring Training outing against the A’s:

"“I just need to mix it in there more and see what happens with it. … I’m just trying to work on the shape of it, see where I can use it in different parts of the zone and different counts to hitters. So, I felt good with the shape of it today and how it was breaking. So, we’ll just build on it from there.”"

Look for The Professor to start throwing that curveball more often this year, adding to an already tough-to-hit repertoire.

As for Quintana, after giving up the most BB/9 and HR/9 last season of his Major League career, he will be looking to use his changeup more often this season. FanGraphs has him throwing his changeup 6.9% of the time last season, making it by far his least-used pitch after his four-seamer, curveball, and two-seamer. After his outing against the D-Backs, he had this to say:

"“I’m happy when I see how I feel with that changeup in different situations. I need to use one more pitch. It’s hard to pitch with two pitches three rounds with a lineup. And I’ve got it, so they want to use it more. And I feel good when I have it like I threw the changeup today.”"

dark. Next. An outspoken Kris Bryant is good for the Cubs

After struggling with his changeup last year (.293 opponent average against the changeup), look for Quintana to use it more often this season as he gains confidence with it.