I have a soft spot for pitchers who can’t consistently throw 90 MPH. Mark Buehrle is probably my favorite pitcher of all time followed by Maddux because they truly had to pitch. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have great stuff. Maddux had about 14 different fastballs and Buehrle had his changeup, but they were masters of keeping hitters off-balance. Hendricks has a lot of that.
This is a guy that was drafted in the eighth round and was looked over up until he put together a Cy Young-worthy season. He’s been doing it for awhile now, but no one really paid attention because he doesn’t have the eye-pleasing pitches. Just because you can’t see the ball do crazy things on TV doesn’t mean it’s any easier to hit. He can’t light up the radar gun like Noah Syndergaard and can’t make Major League hitters look like they should be playing T-ball like Chris Sale can. He works with what he has and maximizes the potential for an out with every pitch he throws.
Tonight, he’ll be squaring up against possibly the most electric fastball/slider combination in the Bigs. While the story has been ‘how hard can Chapman throw’ and ‘can anyone hit Kluber’s two-seam fastball’, Hendricks will be looking to make history with much less flash. He’s basically coming into a street fight with nothing but a pocketknife while his opponent is carrying a bazooka. But goddamn does he know how to use that pocketknife.