August 2, 2016

2 August:

The professor held class, and the students got a lesson.

The ‘professsor’ as he is called by those around him, is Cub starter Kyle Hendricks(W, 10-7). And all he did was throw a 123 pitch complete game, with an impressive 78 of them strikes. The Miami Marlins could only manage 7 hits, off of him.

Six singles and a double.

Hendricks leads the league in what they call ‘soft contact’; meaning most of the balls put in play off of him are not hit very hard. Seeing he is a ‘movement’ pitcher as opposed to a velocity one that is understandable.

What is amazing is how well prepared he is. He and coach Mike Borzello compile lists of the opposing team’s lineups and studies their weaknesses. Most pitchers throw to their strength. Jake Arrieta is a prime example. His stuff is so swing and miss good it doesn’t really matter what the hitter’s weaknesses-or strengths- are.

Hendricks is a different character completely.

He knows which hitter’s weaknesses are, and will come up with a succession of pitches to both set him up and exploit them. If a guy is susceptible down and in, he’ll start him up in the zone but with a straight change.

He either gets a swing and miss, a light tap, or a called strike. Then he’ll start working him lower and closer in. Monday night he even had a little extra giddyup on his fastball, he got Marlin first baseman Derek Dietrich on a 89 mph fastball for strike three.

You could see Dietrich walking back to the dugout muttering to himself; basically HOW could I miss that? It was a very hittable fastball, must’ve looked like a small melon to him. But the location was key.

It was above the letters. A hittable fastball at the belt. Unhittable there.

Hendricks must give one of the most comfortable ‘0 fers’ of anybody out there. You walk back to the bench saying ‘this guy has nothing’ to yourself but at the end of the game you’re ‘o for’ however many at bats you had.

He gave a clinic on how to pitch when you can barely dent a sofa with your fastball. His numbers?

116.2 innings. 91 hits. 31 runs allowed; 103 strikeouts to only 32 walks. ERA of 2.22. He may very well be the pitcher of the month in the NL.

He’s also a fifth starter who makes the major league minimum of $541,000. That would make him, dollar for dollar, one of the best starters in the National League. Not too shabby.

His 10-7 record is not really representative of his work; he pitched a lot of 5 and 6 inning games and some of them got away from the team. His only real weakness has been the ‘out’ pitch; when you’re back is against the wall, bases are loaded and a good hitter is up, you should have one real plus pitch you can get an out on.

A good 94 mph two seam fastball works. But he doesn’t possess that, nor does he have a great breaking pitch either. But his change up is devastating. And he can spot his fastball and use location to get guys out. But the rub on him is not being able to go a third time through the lineup.

Professional hitters will sit on a change and dare you to throw a fastball past them. This has been his Achilles heel. Monday night, however, it wasn’t. He had everything working, and made a pretty good Marlins team look weak.

Their outfield leads the majors in OPS. It’s like .820 or something like that. So this wasn’t the Padres or Twins we’re talking about. ┬áHe just tossed a dandy, that’s all.

The rest of the team chipped in with Anthony Rizzo leading the way with three hits including a triple and a double, with Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward also adding two baggers.

Heyward’s was his second in two days and he is showing signs of coming out of the deep slump he has been in. That said, he still just doesn’t get any lift on the ball, and the defense plays him like a banjo hitter; not very deep and straight away.

He will need his ‘come to Jesus’ moment at some point and figure out just WHAT kind of hitter he wants to be. Right now it’s trying to be too hard to be every type of hitter at once.

He needs to get this sorted, and sooner rather than later. Until then, the Cubs with their newly bolstered bullpen will be a very tough club to beat going forward. Theo and Jed will be watching the scrap heap up until September 1st, trying to get that left handed veteran outfielder they desperately need.

Wish them luck…

Jason Hammel gets the formidable Jose Fernandez; 7:10 start. CSN, 670 The Score


Tags: #Cubs #Marlins #LetsGo