What Does Kyle Hendricks Need To Do To Suck Less?

Anyone who thinks Kyle Hendricks’ 2016 campaign was a fluke is a grade-A moron. Anyone who expected Kyle Hendricks’ 2016 campaign to become his norm is brain-dead optimist. Anyone who expected Hendricks to fall somewhere in between his past two seasons of production is probably right, but not looking good so far in 2017.

Hendricks lives on location and deception. He can’t succeed unless he has complete control of the strike zone, and when he misses his spots the baseball goes far. Let me know if you need any other cliches to make my point: he needs to be deadly accurate to be successful.

It’s not as if his poor numbers are a result of a ridiculous opposing BABIP. It’s not in the .400s, it’s actually really low, .244. He’s simply walking more people and striking out less. He’s walked almost two more batters per nine innings than he did last season while only averaging about seven strike outs per nine, a full batter lower than 2016. So, throw more strikes, right?

Incorrect my stupid friend. According to Fangraphs, Hendricks is throwing strikes about 63% of the time, only a tick down from his 65% last year. However, it’s very clear that hitters are simply making more contact against him. Last season hitters were making contact 77% of the time they swung the bat, whereas this year that number has risen to 84%. I won’t murder your eyes by giving you the rest of the gory details, but his statistics show it doesn’t matter where the pitch is (inside or outside of the strike zone) hitters are simply making more contact.

So why?

Because he’s throwing like a candyass. His fastball velocity is down 3-4 MPH, which is enormous for any pitcher, let alone one that doesn’t have much zip to begin with. While this is happening, his changeup velocity has remained flat. That means there is less of a velocity difference between his fastball and changeup, which results in less deception, which results in dingers. Look at his line when 0-2 to batters this season: seven hits and two bombs for an opposing average of .412. He’s not fooling anyone.

That’s why.

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