While the Chicago Cubs are loaded with young position player talent throughout their system, most agree that they lack in the starting pitching department. Helping with that lack of pitching is RHP Kyle Hendricks has had an incredible rookie season thus far, and is going to be a very important player for the Cubs in the immediate future.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Hendricks has been named the National League Rookie of the Month for August. In the month of August, the Cubs did not lose a game that was started by Hendricks. That is certainly saying something for a team that 64-76. Hendricks posted a 1.69 ERA for the month.
Hendricks was always an underrated pitching prospect, because he has never shown the obvious tools that scouts love in a pitcher. His fastball sits in the high-80s to low-90s and he does not have a knockout breaking ball to speak of. Hendricks relies on changing speeds and impeccable control on his pitches to get outs. He will never have a high strikeout total, but so far in his big league career he has been able to keep hitters off balance, by forcing weak contact.
In August, Hendricks had a minuscule 4.1% walk rate. While was allowing a lot of contact, his low 14.8% line drive rate and impressive 47.8% groundball rate suggests that Hendricks was not giving up hard contact. While it did not count toward his award, Hendricks continued his impressive season against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday evening. Hendricks picked up the win, as he threw 5.2 innings allowing nine hits and only two runs. Not his best work, but Hendricks was able to keep the damage limited.
For the season, Hendricks is now 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA. Using movement on his pitches, deceptiveness and fantastic command, Hendricks has been an incredible addition to the Cubs’ pitching staff this season. While he does not have the stuff to become an ace, he is going to be a solid contributor to the Cubs’ rotation for the foreseeable future.