Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks delivers in win vs. ARI

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Kyle Hendricks was masterful over seven shutout innings as the Chicago Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1.

The Chicago Cubs needed a solid outing from Kyle Hendricks who had yet to find his groove in 2019. He is historically a slow a starter, but as previously discussed, the other starters in this rotation have stepped up in a big way since Jon Lester was injured.

Hendricks came into this game with a 5.40 ERA in three starts. In those starts, he had trouble locating both his sinker and changeup, as both were finding entirely too much of the strike zone. Much like Greg Maddux, Hendricks is a guy that relies on pitch location rather than pitch speed. His fastball tops out near 88 mph and if he can’t locate his other pitches, opposing batters are going to tee off on him as we have seen in the early stages of the season.

However, he finally looked the Kyle Hendricks Cubs fans have come to expect, throwing seven shutout innings with just two walks and 11 strikeouts. Hendricks threw 66 of his 100 pitches for strikes and lowered his 2019 ERA to 3.54. His secondary pitches looked terrific today, much lower in the zone and fooling batters with ease.

Hendricks entered the day allowing a career-high in flyballs at 38 percent of balls hit in play. Conversely, his groundball rate was at a career low of 36 percent. Because he is not going to power any pitches past opposing batters, Hendricks also relies on the defense behind him to collect outs.

In today’s start, Hendricks only had seven balls that were hit into play with six of those being groundballs and just one flyball, much more consistent with his career averages.

He needed to have this good start today. The Diamondbacks are not a very good offensive team, but Hendricks still had to perform and execute his pitches. He is fresh off signing a four-year extension with the team that will keep him in a Cubs uniform through the 2024 season. I had not quite reached the “it’s time to be worried about Kyle Hendricks” mindset yet, especially given his track record.

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That being said, it was vital that he deliver a strong performance today. He looked like the same pitcher that made the 2016 NLCS Game 6 clincher look easy. He was completely dominant today.