Deep Dive: Kyle Hendricks rebounds with signature outing

1 year agoLance Brozdowski

After three-straight losses, the Cubs needed a stopper. Kyle Hendricks’ 8-inning, 1-run outing halted the team’s three-game losing streak.

The contact-based right-hander worked as he normally does: not generating a lot of swings and misses, but inducing weak contact to all parts of the field. He had a stretch of five straight fly outs before the 3rd inning, three of which were considered “pop outs,” a weaker form of a fly ball generally reserved for those high above the infield. The league’s batting average in 2020 on pop outs is .024. On fly balls, it increases to a modest .213.

In the later innings, Hendricks started generating a plethora of ground balls, which included two smooth 5-4-3 double plays turned by the Cubs infield. He finished the outing with nine fly outs compared to seven ground outs.

Before Monday’s game, Marquee Sports Network analyst Sean Marshall broke down how Hendricks has been so devastating against left-handed hitting this season. Hendricks sported a .204/.216/.345 slash line entering the start, with an incredible 23% strikeout rate to just a 2% walk rate.

“He runs a sinker in right above the hand and throws his excellent changeup off those pitches,” Marshall said before Monday’s start.

This exact approach bore out in Hendricks bounce-back outing with a slight twist: Hendricks opted for his four-seam fastball more than his sinker versus left-handers. But his intention seemed similar.

Against Tommy Edman in the 3rd inning with runners on the corners, Hendricks tried to locate two four-seamers up and in on Edman’s hands before opting for his changeup away. Although he missed his spot on the first two pitches of the at-bat, he battled back and ended up striking out Edman on a four-seamer over the heart of the plate after getting him to whiff on a changuep down and away.

A similar circumstance unraveled in the top of the 7th with two men on and one out. Matt Carpenter stepped into the box and saw a pair of changeups off the plate away. He rolled the second one over and got Hendricks out of the jam. After a clean 8th inning, Ross summoned Rowan Wick to secure the victory and Hendricks’ fifth win of the season.

“He manipulates the baseball perfect,” Marshall said. “For a guy that throws 87.5, the ball moves so much.”

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