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Kyle Hendricks ready to deliver for Cubs in postseason

3 years agoAndy Martinez

Kyle Hendricks is ready for the playoffs. In many ways, that’s his comfort zone.

“I’m really excited to be back there,” Hendricks said. “Starting a game with all these guys behind me, this group of guys, that’s what we like to do; go to the playoffs and win.”

Hendricks went 7.2 innings striking out 3 and allowing 2 runs on 7 hits in his final regular season start on Wednesday. This has been another strong season for ‘The Professor’, as he has posted a 2.88 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 12 starts.

“I think that’s what kinda of pitcher he knows he is, we know he is,” David Ross said. “Just nice to have that guy on your side when he takes the bump. It’s a very comforting feeling and you feel like you got a really good chance to win the baseball game when he’s out there on the mound. He’s had a phenomenal year for us and I’m happy for him.”

Ross hasn’t ruled out using Hendricks in the season finale against the White Sox in a relief role for an inning, depending on the game and season situations. If Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Pirates was his last time on the mound prior to the postseason,  Hendricks will go 7 to 8 days between appearances, depending on whether he starts Game 1 or 2 of the Wild Card round. While that’s longer than normal, if there’s anyone who can deal with an extended layoff and not show rust, it’s Hendricks.

“That is a long time in between starts as well,” Ross said. “I don’t worry about that too much with Kyle. I think he did probably the best job in the down time during the quarantine the first time of keeping himself sharp and I think that was very evident in his performance the first time he took the bump and how he’s performed all year.”

That Opening Day performance speaks for itself. And he’s shown he’s capable of performing at an elite level in October, too.

In 10 postseason starts, Hendricks has a 2.88 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. That playoff moxie and pedigree, coupled with his 2020 output, give the Cubs a viable postseason starter. A No. 1-type starter for most teams, Hendricks forms part of a fearsome 1-2 punch for the Cubs with Yu Darvish.

Darvish, a Cy Young candidate with a 2.22 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 11 starts, is another candidate to start the playoff opener. Coincidentally enough, Hendricks’ last postseason start was in the 2017 NLCS against Darvish and the Dodgers.

Regardless of who gets the nod, the duo will continue to drive one another to deliver in the postseason and continue to set a high bar to push the rest of the pitching staff. Jon Lester has returned to form, Alec Mills has proven his value, José Quintana is getting healthier by the day and Adbert Alzolay’s strong showing on Tuesday is encouraging. 

“You know the rapport we have now, the friendship we have, it’s great,” Hendricks said of Darvish. “Pushing each other and we know we wanna be those two guys, but really everyone’s been throwing [well]. I think overall, [the] pitching staff is right where we need to be.

“But yeah, Darvish and I talk about that a lot. Really excited to go into these playoffs and see what we can do.”

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