When the topic of Cubs pitching arises, one might think of Jon Lester or reigning Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta. But likely Kyle Hendricks doesn’t immediately come to mind. Hendricks hasn’t thrown two no-hitters without a loss in between, he isn’t a hot head, he didn’t beat cancer, and he doesn’t have a quirky love for potato chips. Hendricks is quiet and subdued, leaving the mound after every inning looking like he just got word that his cat died and he might crack a smile after a shut out; but above all he’s consistent with an average 3.34 FIP in his last three seasons. This season his consistency is paying off.
Hendricks is one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball and with Clayton Kershaw on the DL, the most dominant of late. His 2.17 ERA is second in the NL to Kershaw’s. The Professor started the season as the fifth starter in the Cubs rotation but has been crept up to become the ace.
Hendricks doesn’t have a high strikeout rate and his fastball averages in the high 80s/low 90s but he does have the unique ability to induce a high number of infield-flies while limiting the amount of fly balls. He has picked up a win in five of his last six starts, along with a shut out for his second complete game of the season. Although a lot of Hendricks success comes down to luck and a great defense behind him (having Javier Baez in his infield hasn’t gone unnoticed), he’s been nothing short of spectacular to watch. It will be interesting to see how he fares for the rest of the season.