You’re welcome. Clearly Kyle Hendricks saw my post about him throwing like a candyass and decided to shut down the Pirates last night. Some guys just need the proper motivation, so I’ll go ahead and credit last night’s Cubs win to Right in Your Wheelhouse for those of you scoring at home.
Hendricks’ fastball was up a tick at 86 MPH, still not where he needs to be but better than sitting 83-85 like an average high school pitcher. It was enough to beat Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who likely contemplated murdering Alan Hanson after his error gave Cole the loss in a two-hit performance.
Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wrote an interesting piece pointing to Hendricks’ drop in velocity possibly stemming from mechanical issues. That coincides with Kyle’s post-game comments as he addressed possible mechanical issues in his previous starts:
“Something in my mechanics clicked, or maybe I fell into the flow of the game or something,” he explained afterward. “I was closer. It’s one start but definitely better.”
Yeah, that’s great Kyle, but what happens if your lack of velocity becomes a trend rather than just a few spotty starts? He wasn’t too concerned about it a week ago as an article from the Chicago Tribune showed, but maybe more insight from Jeff Sullivan’s piece does more to connect the dots:
There’s something odd about the Cubs’ starting rotation, and I wrote about it last week. All five pitchers have been working with reduced velocity, relative to where they were last season. When it happens to one guy, it’s a potential problem. When it happens to five guys…I suppose it’s a potential *huge* problem, but it’s also a potentially deliberate pattern.
So knowing that it’s not just Hendricks who is seeing a drop in velo, can we safely assume Cubs brass and Joe Maddon are whispering in their starters’ ears about taking it easy to start the season? After all, they played more games than anyone last year and are planning on doing the same in 2017.
It’s just a little more noticeable when I can officially say I throw as hard as someone in the Cubs starting rotation.