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The Secret to Kyle Hendricks’ Success

August 13th, 2014 at 6:00 AM
By Tim Duxbury

DSCN0485 from Flickr via Wylio? 2009 ttarasiuk, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Chicago Cubs’ rookie, Kyle Hendricks emerged from last night’s start against the Milwaukee Brewers with a record of 4-1, an ERA of 1.73 and a streak of five quality starts in a row. The numbers that he has put up this season have been remarkable, especially for a kid who pitched at Dartmouth and lacks an overpowering fastball. Here’s how he has found success:

Using Wrigley Field to his advantage:

In his two previous starts at home, Kyle Hendricks was lights out, posting an ERA of 0.68. The secret? Getting groundouts. When summer in Chicago rolls around, the only way to be effective at Wrigley Field is to keep the ball out of the air and Hendricks has done just that by getting 57.5% of his outs on the ground.

Getting ahead and staying ahead:

Walks have plagued the Cubs’ starting rotation all season long but Hendricks is breaking the trend. Through his first five starts, the rookie has walked just 2.01 batters per nine innings (a respectable mark). Hendricks has also been uniquely successful at finishing hitters. It’s one thing to be able to jump ahead in the count, but often rookies struggle to put guys away. Hendricks is an exception. 

Count:

0-1

0-2

1-1

1-2

2-2

At bats

13

16

14

17

13

.ave

.077

.000

.214

.000

.231

Thus far, Hendricks has limited his mistakes and is attacking hitters when the count is in his favor. His success in these favorable counts is what has lead him to an overall opponent batting average of just .220.

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Bearing down with runners in scoring position:

One of the main reasons for the St. Louis Cardinals success in 2013 was their ability to hit with men in scoring position. Cashing in on these opportunities is crucial to the success of an offense and so far in 2014 Kyle Hendricks has been an absolute rally killer.

Situation:

Runners on

Scoring position

Scoring position, 2 out

At bats

45

27

9

.ave

.133

.222

.111

Performing in the clutch is what has helped Hendricks string together four quality starts in a row and establish himself as one of the few Cubs’ pitchers with a winning record.

Finishing Strong:

Kyle Hendricks’ ability to keep hitters off balance the second time through the order has played a huge role in his success this season. Hitters are batting .296 off him in his first 15 pitches of the game but once Hendricks finds his rhythm he becomes dominant:

Pitches:

1-15

16-30

31-45

46-60

61-75

.ave

.297

.235

.200

.167

.000

Hendricks’ late inning success has been the number one reason why he has been able to pitch deep into games this season; he is averaging 6.94 innings per start.

Stats in this article are curtsey of ESPN.com.

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