There have been many surprises, good and bad, in this roller coaster of a 2018 season on the north side of Chicago. One of the bad ones was the struggles of Kyle Hendricks. The Professor was slated in as the #2 starter, and why not? Two seasons ago he had a sub 3 ERA, and really made his mark in the postseason. But this year Hendricks had been struggling, especially giving up long balls. But maybe whatever was plaguing him has finally been worked through.
I just finished watching Hendricks finish off a 4 game sweep of Cincinnati (payback) with a gem of a performance. The Professor schooled the Reds to the tune of 7 innings of 2 hit baseball. This coming off the heels of his last few starts, in Detroit where he also went 7, allowing 10 hits, but only 2 runs. Before that it was 6 innings against the Brewers where he allowed 4 runs.
On the season that lowers his ERA to a much more Hendricks-like under 4 ERA, so it hasn’t just been the last 3 games that should have Cubs fans encouraged. Hendricks has been much better and more consistent since the All Star break. In fact the whole rotation has been better the past 2 times through, after a rough patch that saw more walks than a Relay for Life. Now is it because the Cubs have played the Tigers and Reds, 2 of the worst teams in baseball, or are they out of their slump?
Its funny, when a hitter goes through a slump, we all just say he’ll be fine. He’s just in a slump and he will break out of it. But the pitchers slump too, and we all had our fingers on the panic button 2 weeks ago.
Cole Hamels has an era under 1 since donning the Cubs pinstripes, Jon Lester has looked much, much better in his last 3 starts, and Hendricks continues to look more and more like the guy we all had the utmost confidence in for Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
Hendricks is the key in my opinion. Assuming Lester is Lester come the playoffs, and, fingers crossed, Hamels can be the Cole Hamels of playoffs past, then Hendricks becomes the 3rd cog that every team needs for a playoff run. It’s also important since he is the Cubs only right handed starter. By the way, his postseason record isn’t bad either. We are coming into the home stretch, so now is the time to get everyone ready for that all important end of the season launch into the playoffs. Let’s hope the Professor has all his notes in order and is ready to hold class.