What To Expect: Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks

Kyle Hendricks (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

Kyle Hendricks (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

With the trade of righthanders Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel last week, the Cubs are in need of starters and quick. To that end, righthander Kyle Hendricks was pulled from his most recent start Sunday and will make his major league debut against Cincinnati today.

This season Hendricks is 10-5, 3.58, in 16 starts with a 3.12 FIP and a  97/23 K/BB ratio in 101 innings. His strikeout rate is a bit above his career average and so is his walk rate.

Hendricks, an eight-round pick out of Dartmouth by the Rangers in 2011, was acquired by the Cubs with third baseman Christian Villanueva for righthander Ryan Dempster at the trade deadline in 2012.

The Cubs’ roster stands at 39, so no corresponding move for Hendricks was necessary.


Hendricks’ fastball touched 95 mph in his Ivy League days, but as a pro he’s settled in as a command-oriented starter who relies on his feel for pitching, a good changeup and ability to locate his fastball. He mostly pitches in the 85-92 mph range, reading hitters’ swings and disrupting their timing. His Iowa manager, Marty Pevey, told reporters Hendricks touched 95 this season, although scouts say it’s topped at 93.

Hendricks throws his changeup to all hitters and has shown the ability to pitch to the inside and outside corners and down with both his fastball and change. He throws both a slider and a curve, both fringe-average, and most scouts prefer the curve, which he throws with some power in the upper 70s. Some scouts give Hendricks 70 control grades.


Hendricks has succeeded in the high-powered PCL despite less-than-overpowering stuff, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into success at the next level, as his home park in Iowa actually suppresses offense, to an extent. His command and control are superb, but he has struggled against lefthanders.

His FIP indicates he could improve with a better defense behind him. Clearly, he’ll have the opportunity. The Cubs are two pitchers short for now--Dan Straily, acquired from Oakland in the deal, is expected to join the team soon--so the team could give Hendricks or Dallas Beeler a legitimate chance to hold a spot at least for the remainder of the season.

In terms of a fantasy pickup, the larger factor might be the Cubs’ inability to win on a consistent basis. If you need wins, Hendricks might not be worth the price.