Kyle Hendricks is the ace the Cubs need right now
NEW YORK — Call him the “stopper.” Call him “The Professor.” Call him the “ace.”
However you want to describe him, Kyle Hendricks has been exactly what the Cubs need.
After the team lost 3 straight games to the Mets in New York, Kyle Hendricks gave the Cubs 6 shutout innings in Thursday’s series finale en route to a 2-0 victory.
The outing marked Hendricks’ 7th straight quality start and 7th straight win (the longest winning streak of his MLB career).
He now has 10 quality starts on the season while the rest of the Cubs pitchers have combined for 12 quality starts.
On a team that is searching for innings out of its rotation, Hendricks has been a consistent bright spot over the last month-and-a-half.
“He’s the backbone of our rotation,” David Ross said. “It’s starting to be that ‘Win Day’ where you feel like when he pitches, you got a really good chance to win. Probably not the sharpest we’ve seen him and he doesn’t even give up any runs. Nice, gutsy performance by Kyle there. We needed that.”
He began the year with a tough April (7.54 ERA) but has a 2.79 ERA and 8-1 record since.
“I knew I would come out of it,” Hendricks said of his April struggles. “I’m generally a slow starter. That was the worst I’ve ever had, obviously. But I know for me, once it clicks and it hits, then it’s there. I knew it was going to come; it was just a matter of time.
“Just had to work on different things until I got that feeling and then it really did set in. I felt it one day and been able to carry it really ever since. There’s still more in there, just gotta be more consistent with the mental aspect.”
Because of Hendricks’ slow start, his season ERA sits at 4.13 despite his current hot stretch. He never gets caught up in worrying about All-Star talk but the Midsummer Classic is less than a month away and his manager is hoping to see him pitch at Coors Field on July 13.
“He’s definitely an All-Star in my book,” Ross said. “I’d vote ‘em all in if I could. They make me look good on a nightly basis when we’re winning. Kyle is, for me, one of those guys that’s consistent. He puts up the numbers every single year, gives you a chance to win.
“If you look on paper, nothing’s going to wow you with the stuff grades and the velocity or anything like that, but this is just the real art of pitching. He goes out and does it every single time he takes the bump. I would love to see him in the All-Star game.”
Javy Báez supplied all the offense Hendricks needed Thursday with a 2-run shot in the 1st inning. Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel combined for 3 perfect innings of relief to make the lead hold up.
With the win, the Cubs ensured they will head back to Wrigley Field to begin a homestand with at least a share of 1st place in the NL Central.