One of baseball’s best catching tandems was on full display for Cubs in win
Kyle Hendricks is relishing the front row seat he has.
While Cubs fans are enjoying the hot start to Willson Contreras’ season and the impressive performance from Yan Gomes as his backup, Hendricks isn’t taking for granted the luxury the Cubs currently have.
“It’s been amazing, to be honest, what the two of them have been able to do and the impact both of them are having on each and every game, really,” Hendricks told reporters after Saturday night’s game against the Diamondbacks.
Their success is amplified when you remember the catching situation from a year ago.
The Cubs used 9 different catchers last season, with a revolving door behind Contreras who was forced to burden the weight of the catching duties last season.
“Coming off last year with how much variability we had, it’s just real nice to have consistency,” Hendricks said. “You know what you’re gonna get.”
That’s solid offensive output.
The Cubs have one of the best catching tandems in baseball — only the Dodgers (.826) have a higher OPS from the catching position than the Cubs (.805). That prowess was on full display Saturday night in Arizona in the Cubs 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks.
Gomes hit a solo home run off Zac Gallen in the 4th inning — the first home run Gallen had surrendered all year — and drove in the first run of the crucial, 3-run 9th inning that sparked the Cubs’ win.
“I put him up there at the top of the order cause he’s got such a quality at-bat, [doesn’t] matter who he’s facing,” manager David Ross said of his cleanup hitter. “His work, is really professional in his down time and he knows his routine and he knows how to have a quality at-bat.”
That decisive rally in the 9th was kicked off by Contreras, who was the Cubs designated hitter. His leadoff, 8-pitch walk was his biggest plate appearance of the day. He worked back from a 1-2 count against Mark Melancon, laying off a pair of close pitches just outside the zone and starting off the Cubs big inning.
“Willson’s been the catalyst for us the last week or so,” Ross said. “When he has quality at-bats, good things happen for us.
“The way he worked the at-bat to start the inning, just set up everything for us for sure.”
Seiya Suzuki followed with a single to center and Ian Happ worked a 4-pitch walk to load the bases for Gomes. Gomes ambushed the first pitch he saw, lacing a single to center that scored Contreras.
“Just really try to simplify it. Just try to put the ball in play, try to drive something in the outfield,” Gomes told Taylor McGregor after the game. “Sometimes in those big moments you can try to overswing it. [Just] try to see a good pitch.”
The Cubs added on insurance runs that helped them pick up their third win in five games.
And that win was ignited by their highly talented catching tandem.
“Everyone works so well with both those guys and the production at the plate now that we’re getting — it’s just fun to watch,” Hendricks said.