Kyle Hendricks: Cubs rookie is continuing to impress

Kyle Hendricks: Cubs rookie is continuing to impress

Remember when Samardzija and Hammel were traded to Oakland and there was some doubt surrounding the Cubs newly vacated starting rotation?  That seems like a long time ago now, doesn't it? The Cubs are proving that yes, in some cases, prospects don't always pan out the way you had expected - but in the case of Kyle Hendricks, they do.

Hendricks was on the hill Friday night for his fourth major league start with the Cubs at Dodger Stadium near his hometown of Newport Beach, to take on Yasiel Puig, Dee Gordon and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were on a six game winning streak before last night.  Hendricks faced off against Dodgers RHP Dan Haren who currently holds a 4.76 ERA on the season and while Haren lasted only 4.1 innings against the Cubs, allowing 6 earned runs off of 8 hits, Hendricks outdueled him to say the least. Hendricks pitched a beautiful 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits and 1 earned run against the Dodgers lineup of All-Star hitters, looking sharp and level as ever and showing no signs of fatigue as his reason for being pulled in the 7th. Yet another quality start in the books for Hendricks, not to mention that Hendricks also picked up his first two major league hits in last night's game as well.

Hendricks has now improved to a 2-1 record with a 2.05 ERA in his 4 starts with the Cubs. Looking back on his outings, he has been nothing but impressive except for a small troublesome stint in the first few innings of his debut at Great American Ball Park. In that start, he allowed 4 earned runs on 5 hits, three of those runs coming in the first inning, before exiting in the 6th. But that in itself was minuscule, should this be the only flaw that Cubs fans are able to find thus far in Hendrick's first four major league starts -  I'd say that's a pretty promising future.

In his next start on July 22nd at home against the San Diego Padres, Hendricks threw just 83 pitches, allowing 5 hits and no runs scored in 7 innings to lead the Cubs to a 6-0 shut out victory. His next start again, came at home, facing an age old rivalry at it's finest - placing him on the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals matched up with their famed starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. That should be enough to rattle any pitcher for the Cubs, yet Hendricks kept his cool. Despite the Cubs inability to provide Hendricks with run support on the afternoon, leading to his first career loss, his performance was very kempt. He needed just 94 pitches (57 for strikes), while pitching on just four days of rest.

Hendricks is certainly running a very persuasive campaign to keep his position in the starting rotation. In a rotation that now is comprised of a pair of struggling pitchers in Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood, nights that are slated for Hendricks and Arrieta starts are a breath of fresh air. One of the greatest assets to Hendricks that can be more vital than most may realize is his composure. He is a pitcher that tends to relay more on his intellect and ability to read hitters at the plate than his velocity. Though Hendricks throws his fastball mainly between 82-91MPH (he had been known to throw in the mid-90s in the minors on occasion), he is extremely effective, which can at times be more of an asset than being able to throw a fastball at 95+MPH. His control is impeccable, though he struggled with it in the beginning of his first outing, he was immediately back to the form and control that he has been known for throughout his minor league career. Hendricks is able to locate his fastball effectively in the zone, which will essentially help keep his number of home runs allowed down, and has an extremely effective change-up that he is able to use to keep hitters off of his fastball. He has most recently added a cutter to his repertoire, which he is able to use should he fall behind in the count.

One thing that I think most baseball fans can agree on is that not having to throw your fastball with max effort can end up being be a very good thing as the Cubs look long term into the future. The baseball world has hit extremely hard in the 2014 season by the "Tommy John Epidemic". Though there are many theories on what causes the devastating elbow injury, it's just common sense that if you throw as hard as some pitchers in the majors do as a starter, you're more than likely to cause severe injury to your UCL somewhere down the line. Again, this is another reason why Hendricks ability to pitch based on intellect, instinct and finesse while maintaining low pitch counts is something that should be praised by Cubs fans, and searched for more often in pitchers around the league. Hendricks may never become a top of the rotation starter, but that doesn't mean that he can't be an extremely effective 3-4 starter in the Cubs rotation. Consistency is something that is often overshadowed by pitchers who throw hard and have high velocity, but those pitchers can tend to be higher risk than the steady Kyle Hendricks.

The future looks very promising for this young starter, who may end up becoming more and more of an enigma to hitters around the league as he continues to pitch in the majors. The more comfortable he becomes in the show, the more threatening he potentially will become. Keep watching him, North Siders, because it looks like he is just getting started.

Filed under: Analysis, Cubs


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    Thanks Cat!

    I'm really starting to enjoy watching this kid pitch and he looks like he is making the decision to leave him in the rotation for 2015 easier in each outing he pitches. It's been fun

  • Cat you mentioned in his first start in the first inning he had some problems. But I remember some on this board saying that the umpire was squeezing the strike zone for the rookie that inning. Hendricks didn't get flustered, he just kept pitching. Since that inning he has done very well. Much better than I thought he would. It is just 4 starts but it does look like the Cubs have a 3-4 starter for their rotation.

  • In reply to John57:

    I absolutely thought he was being squeezed and it crossed my mind that the ump was not going to give a rookie a break. It was blatantly obvious on at least three pitches displayed on the graphic and very close on several others.

  • In reply to John57:

    Yep, Hendricks definitely got squeezed that first outing, the graphics showed that they were strikes. As he settles into the majors though and becomes known for his control/command, he will start getting those pitches/calls...and perhaps even a little extra if he nails his spots.

  • I remember when people referred to him as a 5th starter type more likely to be in the pen. They called his stuff fringy and said as he moved up a level that league would catch up to him. So far he's proven people wrong. Granted he's only had 4 MLB starts but you gotta start somewhere. He'll have clunkers, all pitchers do. But I think he has the mentality and make up to make his "fringy" stuff work.

  • I can see Hendricks as a #3 starter easily, just like I can see Arrietta as a #2.

    Cubs have no payroll so they need pursue that FA #1 hard. If there are worries about contract length, front load the deal so the player's salary declines as they get older. This should make Chicago an attractive destination because players want money now.

    Those are the three hardest rotation spot's to fill. #4 and #5 should be able be manned at relatively low cost, leaving plenty of extension cash to offer to successful prospects.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Would love to get Lester for next year. Oak won't be able to extend him.

    Arrieta, Lester and Hendricks would look pretty good in our rotation.

  • What I like most about Hendricks is that he throws strikes and pitches to contact. He keeps his pitch count down and pitches into the sixth inning or later, taking some of the stress off the bullpen.

  • I hate to draw comparisons to Greg Maddux, but..wasn't that the knock on Maddux when he came up.Low Velocity, good movement but not a big arm like Clemens. I don't think it's fair for that kind of comparison right now but my point is...why is the emphasis so much on velocity and less on control and movement.

  • In reply to Honeynut Sorianos:

    Maddux threw harder than Hendricks does at this point in their respective careers. There probably is an overemphasis on velocity, but there is a reason that very few starters survive throwing as hard as Hendricks does.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    92mph for Maddux. But that was 3 or 4 mph above average at the time.

  • In reply to Honeynut Sorianos:

    I think it's okay to evoke Maddux if you are talking about things like approach and command. I think people really overreact when that comparison made, as if it means they think you are saying he is going to be the best pitcher of all time.

    At the same time, even if he pitches to his potential and develops plus-plus command to go with his cerebral approach, the chances are he is a 4/5 starter at his ceiling. I think we have to be happy with that because that has value too.

    But sometimes I think the indignant reaction to Maddux comparisons can get annoying. People need to chill out. There are similarities between the two but it doesn't mean anybody is saying that one is as good as the other. Those are two different things.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    well said John. But there have been some comments saying he was a potential Ace or legit #2... I find that appalling and ignorant. The kid's future is bright for sure, but he's had 3 MLB starts so far. let's wait til he's had a full seasons worth before placing such expectations on him.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Ace or legit #2! Really? I said in my only post about him that at least for the next 4 days, he looks like a #1, but that was in humor! Right now after tonight's Baez performance, do you realize he would be on pace to hit 320 home runs in a season? 2X162=324

    Surely they jest!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Well I wasn't singling anyone out personally. After last nights game, Edwin Jackson looks like an ACE too. See how ignorant some statements can look.

    The reality is the kid has 3 MLB starts to career. So far so good. But I've seen nothing that makes me think he is Greg Maddux part deux...

    IDK wtf Baez has to do with this convo...

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    I don't think Hoosier was talking about you, I replied to a post the other day which said that Hendricks would be an Ace and only the #3 starter because Lester & Arrieta would be ahead of him. I believe that's what he was referring to....which IS crazy...and their have been other posts like it. As John pointed out, I have no problem with someone saying that Hendricks reminds them of Maddux (or whomever)'s when they go beyond that and start making crazy predictions that it becomes just a bit too much to bare.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    It wasn't even a specific post Ghost Dawg... Like you said, there have been several.

    All throughout his upper MiLB career, scouts, etc labeled Junior Lake as a 4th/5th OF'r. He gets called up and blows up... people were adamantly bashing those of us who reminded them of his scouting profile and that his success was small sample, etc... Some even went so far to label him the second coming of Sammy Sosa... Look how that's turned out.

    Hendricks is sort of the same thing. Does that mean he can't defy what scouts have labeled him as? of course not. Nor am I predicting he will struggle like Junior Has in his sophomore season... But after 3 MLB starts, I'm not ready to anoint him the second coming of Greg Maddux. Let's enjoy his success and hope for the best... even if my logical brain says the best is a #4 MLB SP.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed on all only qualifier would be, for me personally, I am not even putting a ceiling of 4th/5th starter on Hendricks...although that is the most likely outcome....He very well could keep refining his craft (as he has done throughout the minors), and blow away all of our expectations...but to predict it after 3-4 games is just a bit silly. I like Hendricks very much, I would love for him to be the next soft-throwing - cerebral success story that beats the odds to become a dominant MLB pitcher, you can't help but root for him....but their is a difference between rooting for him to succeed, and saying that it will happen based on his minor league stats and a few MLB starts.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Actually, 4 career starts, not 3.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    People do forget that Maddux at his peak was throwing in the low 90s. The idea that the stuff Maddux had was below average is just patently false. Agree that Hendricks can share similarities in approach with Maddux, but there really is't much to the comparison given the differences in their arms.

    That said getting a back end of the rotation starter would be a huge and rightly celebrated win for the organization.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    If Hendricks ends up being a #3 that would be awesome.

    But Maddux stuff (90-92) at his peak isnt that much better than Hendricks (88-90) really irrelevant velocity wise. Hendricks is way ahead of Maddux on his change up. But no one was ever better at starting pitches off the plate and having it break in for a strike or vise versa. Hendricks has the movement that Maddux had.

    If he ever comes up with the accuracy to control that movement that Maddux did then look out who knows how good he could be.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Maddux thru 90-92 at his peak, looks like Hendricks throws at 88-90.
    Hendricks has a way better changeup than Maddux had. I think they have the same amount of movement on their pitches.
    No one was better than maddux at throwing balls that ended up being strikes and vise versa (that is what made him a HOF)

    If Hendricks gets near Maddux control of the strike zone and his understanding of setting up hitters then lookout we may be on to something.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I was going to say that the 2-3 mph fastball difference is irrelevant especially with Hendricks change up.

    maddux 1st 2 years in chicago was 8-18 with a 5.60 era
    his age 24 year he was 15-15 with a 3.46 he didnt become dominant until he was 27 or 28.

    So we really dont know what we have with Hendricks I think it is safe to say he should be a very good #5. Beyond that time will tell.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    conveniently leave out the fact that Maddux was 37-20 combined ages 22 and 23 years, and really became dominant at 26 years old in his first Cy Young year (and last season) with the Cubs. I do enjoy watching Hendricks pitch, but unlike others, I have no projections for him, Arrieta, Baez, Bryant, Soler, or any other of the young players the Cubs have. I just want to sit back and enjoy watching them play...I became a Cub fan in 1967, so this is my first time to see a bunch of young Cub talent develop together (Grace/Palmiero/Maddux was a small batch compared to the talent the Cubs have now). I am fortunate I can watch some of these guys done here in AZ in the Fall League, Spring Training, and the developmental league. Let's enjoy the ride....

  • In reply to JollyCharlieGrimm:

    The first baseball season I recall was 1969. I was 7 years old. I have been waiting for someone to do this thing right ever since. I don't know if it will all work out, but at least I can respect the process the FO is using. I'm with ya Jolly - I'm going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Please don't say Hendricks has a way better change up than Maddux. Hendrix has a good one, with good movement. But his control of that pitch is not what Maddux's was. Maddux could start it just above the knees and have it end up just below the knees, on the black, with consistency. I don't see that consistent precision yet from Hendricks.

  • In reply to sabzali:

    at this early stage I think Hendricks changeup is way ahead of Maddux's.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    I didn't say a thing about stuff. I only talked about approach and command. If people want to compare them on those two things, I have no problem with it. Like I said, it doesn't mean they are of equal quality. Everyone knows Hendricks isn't Maddux but I think people keep trying to impose that idea any time someone wants to compare them in the slightest way.


    Comment..."Hendricks has a cerebral approach, reminds me of Maddux"

    Response, "What??? Hendricks is nothing like Maddux. Maddux threw 90s, Maddux had better stuff, Maddux is a Hall-of-Famer, blah, blah, blah."

    In this situation the response seems much more knee jerk than the original comment, don't you think?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think that is certainly fair, but I think many times when you see people cite that cerebral approach they invoke this myth that Maddux's stuff was sub-par. That is the complaint i have had when I see people creating that comparison.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    I think there is a few out there who may think that but unless they say it specifically or say something like "well, if Maddux could do it then so can Hendricks" which directly implies their stuff was the same, I give them the benefit of the doubt. But I don't think I've read anyone here say he is Maddux or a TOR guy. I think the most optimistic here are hopeful he can be a #3, which to me is still high, but it is certainly nowhere near Maddux.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I guess I am a bit itchy on the trigger whenever I see the words "Maddux didn't throw hard.'

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    I will have my full thoughts on an article later but I think those words aren't as wrong as you think they are.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    I look forward to it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    RE: But I don't think I've read anyone here say he is Maddux or a TOR guy. (John)

    Incorrect, the ONLY "Hendricks is like Maddux" comment that I have responded to is one that said he was going to be an Ace and only the #3 because he will be behind Lester & Arrieta. Which I responded to very respectfully and pointed out that kind of prediction borders on fantasy. I don't think anybody has a problem with someone saying that Hendricks reminds them of Maddux (or whoever) or makes comparisons, it's only when the comments get absurd that most people say something.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Yes...I think as long as you keep things in perspective you can make a comparison.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    "Everyone knows Hendricks isn't Maddux but I think people keep trying to impose that idea any time someone wants to compare them in the slightest way."

    That's right, but Maddux wasn't MADDUX at that age and when he first came up either. I think everyone should keep that in mind as well.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    That goes both ways, though. Maddux may have not been the refined pitcher he would become with the Braves later in his career, but he had more in terms of raw talent and stuff at the same age than Hendricks does. We can compare the two in that they had a couple of similarities, specifically command and a cerebral approach, but that's pretty much were it ends. They were different pitchers in terms of athleticism, stuff, and overall talent.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Can I take this to a slightly different angle? I agree with what you are saying, John. While I'd love to see Hendricks succeed, it seems as more of a bottom of the rotation starter - still significant value in that though. How would you compare Hendricks and Casey Coleman? Seems that when Coleman first came up there were similar "comparisons" to Maddux and that he has some success when he first was in the bigs. Have any of your scouting contacts providing comparisons of Hendricks and Coleman? As much as I want to see Kyle succeed, I still fear in the back of my mind he could end up like Casey.

    BTW - thanks for this blog! Love the info and interaction!!

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Maddux also came up at age 20 compared to 24. The two seasons prior to Maddux's age 24 season he had a 3.07 ERA over 487 IP. He wasn't prime Maddux at this age, but he was still a damn good pitcher.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah, I would slot Hendricks as a #4. But I do see him as Maddux-like, aka, the Professor, in his cerebral approach to the game and how he utilizes change of speed and location to succeed. As HoosierDaddy says, he only has a few starts under his belt. Let's sit back and enjoy his recent success and see how he continues to mature and progress. If he becomes half as good as a TOR HOFer, then we are doing OK.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    OK, John, maybe we have different definitions of what makes a #2, #3, #4, #5 starter. I would just like to calibrate my understanding with yours. However, what if Hendricks has an ERA in the vicinity of 3.70 with an FIP in the same range (+/- 0.15), WHIP of 1.15, a 3.7:1 to 4:1 K:BB ratio with a HR rate of 0.9-1.0/9IP. I don't think those numbers are unrealistic when he gets his feet under him completely. They aren't even, I think, a "ceiling" necessarily. By "ceiling" I mean as far as his ability and skill can take him. To me I see those numbers and say, "If that is my #4/5 what does my #3 guy look like? Or my #2?" What is a Prototypical #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 pitcher? Is it stats, velocity, W-L record or what?

    I don't mean to challenge you or be disrespectful. I am curious and I respect yours and many other's on this boards opinions and would truly like to know what criteria you look for to see someones "ceiling" or "floor" in the major leagues?

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Interesting points. People's definitions of what a #4/5 pitcher is certainly differ. Say 4/5, and some think a journeyman pitcher with a well below .500 career win/loss or a former decent pitcher just hanging on (like Edwin Jackson). But based on Hendricks' fantastic minor league stats (until this year when he oddly went for more Ks and his effectiveness dipped for the first time) and first major league starts, how lucky would a staff be to have 3 or 4 better pitchers on their team?

    Of course, it's easy to get too excited too fast. As with hitters, let's give him a couple times through the league to make sure he can still turn in the quality starts when the scouts fully prepare their teams. That said, you must love the poise. People talk about his "intellect" which is kind of obligatory praise thrown at anyone who isn't what Greg Maddux called a "brain-dead heaver." The ability to execute a strong game plan actually is not necessarily evidence of "intellect" but a very real athletic ability called "pitching command." But I certainly saw flashes of real baseball smarts in Hendricks during Saturday's game when on a double play hit back up the box, he didn't try to stab or deflect the ball. He merely let in bounce at medium speed over him and let his middle infielders make a quick, easy double play. Now that was a super smart play. He knew where his defense was and over-ruled his reflexes to trust his team behind him.

    It's a nuance like that jumps out at people who played the game at levels higher than high school, and no doubt part of why baseball experts from Bosio to Sutcliffe are so impressed by Hendricks to this point. Let's hope he keeps plugging along.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Results don't make an ace profile. I think that is where the confusion lies. If the results extend over a very large sample size, we're talking multiple years, you can say the pitcher is an ace, but even then he doesn't "profile" as an ace. He goes outside the profile, but the truth is that it doesn't happen often.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you are right. I use "results" to the detriment of "stuff." If I understand you correctly you use "stuff" to determine what the player "profiles" as. I can agree that, by your definition, Hendricks profiles as a 4/5 pitcher. That is expressly NOT an evaluation of his performance in limited duty so far but, instead, an evaluation of his skill set.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, this is exactly what I'm talking about when I say the wannabe scouts on here keep trying to put him down. Kyle has performed greatly at every level, but because he doesn't have a mid 90's fastball, you devalue him. As he continues to succeed you put your "scout evaluation" out saying that he is a 4 or 5! Really? Was he the 4 or 5 in AA?, AAA? No.

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    So you are saying that minor league numbers override scouting evaluations? Why hire scouts? Should we really just look at AA and AAA numbers and think we can make an informed decision? Sorry, but that doesn't fly.

    The truth is that is not how players are evaluated in baseball or even this blog, which has some of the best scouting information on prospects and the minor leagues. AA and AAA is a lot different than the majors. Most of those guys aren't MLB starter quality players, many not even MLB players at all. The fact is you see very few top of the rotation pitchers with 87-88 mph FBs. Not just this year -- but in MLB history. I know fans want to believe in underdogs and that they can overcome the odds, but it usually doesn't happen. For every Greg Maddux there are hundreds of Kennie Steenstra's. Betting that Kyle Hendricks is the exception after so many other MLB'ers have failed is betting on a huge longshot. I like Hendricks and I want him to make it, but we have to be realistic here. He fits the profile of a 5th starter. To say that he isn't or will be the exception to the rule and become an ace (or even a 3rd starter) ignores a lot of historical evidence to the contrary. He might, but those odds are very, very small. There is a much greater chance that he will be a bottom of the rotation guy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The problem is that you are not qualified to make that evaluation. Yes there is a job for scouts, but guess what? Scouts are wrong all the time. Sure they hit on a lot of players, but they miss on just as many. The problem is that you think a pitcher has to have a mid 90's fastball to be successful UNLESS his name is Corey Black.
    I personally do look for results. AA and AAA aren't the big leagues, but you would be an idiot to say the results in those leagues mean nothing.
    I don't think Hendricks is an ace, but until he proves otherwise we can't dismiss that he is more than a back of the rotation/filler starter that you project. Maybe you can quote yourself like you love to do 8 months from now to show everyone that Hendricks is a 4 or 5, but until then you go by results.

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Take a deep breath, Richard. This comment went straight to the spam filter and I am just seeing it now. Not that it adds anything new except some growing anger on your part, but here it is.

    I've pretty much answered these questions in my last comment to you because this was a rather predictable response. If you read this blog, then you know we go above and beyond the box score to bring you professional opinion as well as our own observations. If you think the information contained within a minor league box score is sufficient to evaluate MLB talent or don't appreciate the work we do or knowledge we bring beyond that, then maybe you are in the wrong place. We see hype everywhere when it comes to prospects and results-based evaluation, so our aim is to look at it from a larger, more well-round, more objective point of view. If you want us to stoke the hype machine based on box score numbers, you won't find it here.

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Richard Madsen,
    "Scouts are wrong all the time," you say.
    Well, their assessments are correct much more than the average fan's snap opinions are.
    As Cub fans we want all the Hendrickses to succeed. But we have to remember the countless Art Ceccarellis (started 5-0) and the Sterling Slaughters (beautiful slider) and all the subsequent flashes-in-the-pan, who started so hot and then disappeared. because they couldn't sustain their early success in the bigs.
    Above all, there is no reason to snipe at the facts and the assessment outline that John gave you -- per your own request! And I'll take John's knowledge (and maturity) over yours any day.

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    In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Not saying he is an ace,but why do you see him as a 4 or 5?

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    The scouting definition of an ace requires that a pitcher have two plus pitches.

    The scouting definition of a #3 starter requires the pitcher have one plus pitch.

    Hendricks has none.

    Hendricks doesn't have an MLB out pitch that top or mid rotation starters can turn to. He gets hitters out through a sequence of pitches that requires him to change speed and locate. But Hendricks can't just say, "I need a swing and miss where I can get an out on my own so I will throw such and such pitch which is good enough to work regardless of the sequence, situation, or hitter." He doesn't have one. Each of his pitches grade out average at best. 4/5 starters are typically more about the sum of their parts, as Hendricks is.

    The scouting definition of a 4/5 starter is basically this: command of at least two average pitches, average velocity, consistent breaking ball, and a decent change.

    Now definitions aren't always exact, but that's easily the one Hendricks fits best, In some cases he is a bit better -- his change is better than decent, I'd say it's above average to good, but that is counteracted by his velocity, which is below average. Everything else pretty much fits Hendricks to a tee. If he develops plus-plus command, maybe that pushes him into the #4 range, but it is hard to envision the rest of his profile justifying anything more than that. But I am talking profile, #4 profiles can perform like aces, though it is rare that one does it consistently over a career. I really, really hope that Hendricks is that rare exception but I wouldn't bet on it. I hope I am wrong.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Way to keep other views from being put out

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    I am just being realistic Richard. You came out here calling people "scout wannabes" and using his AA/AAA numbers as your evidence. I disagreed with that reasoning. You asked me why and I told you. I am not a scout, but I do know them, talk to them, and learn a ton from them. What I explained to you is a general idea about how people in baseball feel about Hendricks. It is not what Cubs fans want to hear because he is off to a great start and they hope they can outperform his profile/expectations. I am hoping that happens too but I also know that historically that kind of thing doesn't happen very often with someone who has Hendricks' profile. Nobody will be more happy to be wrong than me if it does.

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    In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Richard, I suspect you and I would likely agree on a great many matters in baseball evaluation. However, this really isn't a very good forum to argue that. If you look around there are sites with more of a focus on "if it counts it can be counted" mentality. John expressly encourages people to "look beyond the box score" and highly values first hand accounts of players. Proselytizing a results based evaluation is more likely to result in antagonism than constructive interactions that will actually be fulfilling for anyone involved. In plain English: Don't poke the bear!

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I'm fine. I realize people want to debate and use what they view as common sense, which to me is more like saying you are taking a results-oriented point of view. That view will always be incomplete because results are always determined to some degree by environmental factors and whenever you have incomplete information, you leave open the possibility that you can have misleading information. More information is better. It really isn't any more complicated than that. Yes, results are important but if you really want to understand a player's ability you must look beyond that, not just in terms of first hand observations and the reports/opinions we get from professional scouts/evaluators, but also there are statistical aspects which reveal more information than the usual results-based argument people use. We do our best to incorporate all of those things and pass that on to you. If you choose to ignore everything else that goes into player evaluation other than results-based data, that is your choice, but you can't treat less information as equal to more information.

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    This is just NOT true. I have NEVER seen John keep others views from being expressed. In fact, he might be one of the most lenient blog administrators that I have ever seen when it comes to letting people say what they want.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    OK, thank you for the lucid explanation of how you define your profiles for pitchers. Now I can agree with your "profiling" as, I agree, he does not have an "ace" profile. I seem to have also set off a small brushfire and I am sorry for that.

    I personally prefer looking at results to decide who my "ace" or "#1 starter" is but I willingly concede that a guy who throws two "plus" pitches is FAR more likely to meet those qualifications. I also agree that Hendricks' does not have nearly enough data to make conclusive statements. As you rightly point out, there are lots of guys who start by having a good stretch as young pitchers and then "regress to the mean" (for instance his FIP is closer to the 3.7 than his current). For instance, he has not faced the same team more than once. He has only faced the same HITTER more than once on a limited occasion (those teams he happens to have faced).

    I believe there is evidence throughout Hendricks' minor league career that he may be able to buck this trend and meet my definition of an "ace" (someone who has an exceptional propensity to get guys out) but that is something we are unlikely to agree on so I won't pursue it any further.

    Again, thank you for the explanation of your (and likely many "scouts") definition of a #1, or #2 etc. pitchers.

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    John, I am in agreement with you on your previous post--I couldn't reply to it directly. That is why I frequent this site and why I asked you to explain your definition of a "#1 starter" and you provided that and, when I use that lens, I agree with your assessment. I had overlooked the term "profile" which I don't usually use in this sense but, now that I understand it, I can see it. I also agree that more information is better which is why I come here.

    I know you are fine. Reading your posts you clearly weren't flustered but trying to explain what you were saying which is why I specifically addressed my comments to Richard. While we will likely always disagree on some things I do come to this site to gain insight into players that I don't have access to otherwise. That was the reason for my original question. I was not sure how you could look at him and say he is a 4/5 pitcher. Now what you are describing it makes sense.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Thanks Joel, I have a follow up Hendricks article that compares him to Maddux where I can put thoughts and info in one place. I think both sides have valid points and both sides have questionable ones, but in the end I lean toward Hendricks as a 4/5 while Maddux was a #1 -- and will explain why. Should come out around lunch time or so.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    His change is a plus pitch John. Even scouts agree on that.

  • In reply to doogolas:

    Don't know of anyone who said that. What I heard was plus potential. Even if he gets there, the plus change is countered by below average velocity. Mid-rotation starter profile indicates at least average stuff across the board with one plus pitch. He fits the 4/5 description better.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    This is an EXCELLENT explanation of how prospect pitchers are evaluated by scouts. It adds perspective to the results we've been seeing. Thanks, John.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hadn't read these definitions before. Appreciated.

  • In reply to Richard Madsen:

    Actually, in AAA this season, through June when they started getting MLB starts; Wada was #1, Jokish #2, and Beeler #3, if you are going strictly by results up until July. Rusin even had a few gems to go with his stinkers.

    It was Hendricks scouting profile (that you despise) being higher than the others that landed him a spot in the rotation ahead of Wada & Beeler after just one MLB performance.

  • Whoa! Mendy with a beauty! That's as far on the shortstop side I've ever seen a second baseman go.

  • Great play, wasn't it?

  • Very good read, well thought out, thanks, Cat.
    Asvfarvas Hendricks goes, he's lookong good now, but let's vsee

  • Damn tablet keyboard! Let's see how he does after a couple trips around the league.

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    As I have said before, all I really care about is if the pitcher gets guys out. So far (and that has to be the qualifier because it is so early in his career) he has gotten guys out.

    As many of you have probably figured out I am more of a "numbers" guy than "scouting" guy. In his last 3 starts, 2 of them against really good line-ups, 1 against a AA club (SDP) has has 20.1 IP, 2ER, 0.89 ERA, 284 pitches thrown, 10K, 4BB (3 coming in the first of those 3 games), 16H, 1HR, 63% strike rate. I am not just throwing numbers out there. These are numbers that, to varying degrees, show just how good he has been. There is nothing about his numbers that indicate that they are "flukey." If anything his K:BB ratio is probably going to get better. It wasn't just a "good night." Of course baseball history is littered with marginal guys who had 50IP as 22 YO with very good numbers and by the age of 25 their numbers had ballooned into guys that really couldn't even stick around the starting rotation.

    I believe that someone with Hendricks' success with his lack of velocity bodes well for him, though. He never relied on an overpowering fastball. He always had to have good command and be able to know how to pitch. Those kinds of skills stick around and make it less likely that he will "flame out."

    I see his ceiling, if things break right for him and and develops a strong cutter to go with his mediocre fastball and solid change, as a decent #2 or very good #3. His numbers have been consistently good throughout the minor leagues. You don't get that over 450+ IP unless you have some ability to pitch. He didn't just suddenly get good. He has been good for a long time. I hope he will be good for a long time to come.

  • Many of our recent trades are looking good

  • Just curious, where was the fast ball of Greg Maddux usually at in the majors? He has some of the savvy of Greg.

  • A little off topic but Baez goes boom… Again! Bryant follows with a double. It's gonna get fun again real soon!

  • I get tired of reading where people would slot a guy. That stuff only matters in the playoffs. Is he good enough for the rotation? Yes. His performance, not someone's projection, dictates where you slot him.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    It's just about the silliest argument in baseball, isn't it? A pitcher adds a new pitch to his repertoire (or learns a way to improve a current pitch), and all of that ranking stuff goes out the window. With position players, people try to predict if they will be "utility" players, "everyday" players," all-stars or HOF. With pitchers, it's predicting exactly where he fits in the rotation. Is he a 1 or a 3? No, wait, he's somewhere between 2.47 and 3.14, depending on who comments. I much prefer the ToR - MoR - BoR predictions - with an understanding that opinions are just that - opinions.

  • Cautiously optimistic. Hendrix will be hot hard if he leaves pitches down the middle. So far he is very methodical and repeats delivery consistently. Dodgers lineup was a great test which he passed

  • I have been really impressed with kyle. That change up comes out of his hand so clean it makes it such a great pitch. Trevor Hoffman made a career out of his fastball changeup mix. I don't think you can say where Hendricks will be slotted he has so much potential. He has way better stuff the beeler who is a legit 5 if that randy Wells's 2.0.

    He has outstanding control and a wipeout pitch that puts him above Travis wood who is a 3. Arrieta has filthy stuff and is a sure #1 I think he has fixed his consistency issues.

    Two things Arrieta and Hendricks have in common they get nasty swings by hitters and their stuff can make hitters look dumb. They both have great potential. Hendricks with his great command, movement, and brains. Arrieta with his 4 filthy pitches, and new found command. Both should be longtime cubs.

  • Hendricks has indeed looked good so far - hard to deny that fact. I'll leave the comparisons to Maddux to the test of time - but he's a very good pitcher who is going to be around this league for a while if he can keep that mix of command, deceptiveness, and control solid.

    Regardless - I'm thinking he was a good and extremely fair trade for Dempster. Years of a quality, cost-controlled pitcher (even if he never makes it to TOR status) are a good thing.

  • How about that,.... the Cubs actually got a quality start out of Edwin Jackson,.... some nifty defensive plays behind him certainly helped - but Edwin actually looked like he was worth his salary today,....

    Two series wins in a row - one of those series against the #1 team in the West on the road,.... We'll take it!

    Could get used to that sort of thing,....

  • I heard an interview with Leo Mazzone last week and he was discussing his staff in the 90's with Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz etc.

    He said the word "velocity" never came up. Just wasn't discussed. They talked about movement and location and that was it.

    Hendricks reminds me of that as he has the ability to change speeds and hit his spots. and if he can touch 90 when he needs to, that will be plenty good.

    He has 7 walks in his 26 innings. 3 of which came in his 1st inning.

    Like his future for sure.

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    These late season surges are really pissing me off.

    I think Coghlan is playing last season's Shierholtz and playing well enough to finish the season to win a bunch of meaningless games but by next season will be awful and into serviceable.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Maybe you should go to the White Sox forum then...

    I'd rather root for them to win, maybe find another complimentary piece or two fro next year and hopefully see E-jax re-establish enough value to get moved... I really dont care if we pick #1 or #15, this FO is talented enough to find impact talent regardless where we pick.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    X2. Couldn't agree more. I have a feeling that Coghlan comparison will be dead on.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I refuse to get upset by a win - especially when guys who likely will matter next year, or the year after (Alcantara made a couple of fantastic plays in the field today), Castro's and Rizzo's offense, and pitching peformances from guys like Hendricks and Arrieta, and the young bullpen.

    Want these guys to know how to play and win - and if that costs the team a spot or two in next year's draft - so bit it.

  • Baez with a couple of HR's, Bryant with a 2 bagger and Soler with the same (scoring a run). Russell also hit an HR tonight as well. Looking forward to the recap.

  • In reply to INSaluki:

    2 HR's and 2 BB's for Baez.... and he leads off the 9th inning.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Yes, I meant to mention the 2 BB's. The second one impressing me because he came up in a situation where he could have easily been over aggressive. Hope he continues to grow.

  • I could see him succeeding much like kyle lohse and doug fister. 2 guys who use command and groundballs to get good results. I think hendricks will continue to exceed expectations. Experts usually underestimate secondary tools like make up and intellect.

  • Nice piece. It's awesome how Hendricks is demonstrating our current market imbalance of way overvaluing max throwing, high K/9 pitchers. A team/organization can only benefit from a better balance of hard-throwers and command-style pitchers. And watching Hendricks make quality ML hitters like Matt Kemp and others swing and miss at his 89 mph fastballs INSIDE and going for Double Plays over Ks can only make one cheer.

    I also chuckle when people knock Hendricks for probably never being a staff ace. That's a knock? Andy Pettitte, Tommy John and Jamie Moyer were never staff aces, but they all won more than 250 games in their careers (and yeah, yeah, I recognize the longevity of Pettitte and Moyer's numbers probably both benefited from PEDs). Heck shouldn't we be happy for even a Scott Sanderson who won only 163 games in his career (163-143).

    Looking back, isn't it surprising most prospect rankings consistently put Hendricks with his wickedly low WHIPs behind hard-throwing Arodys Vizcaino, who didn't even throw a ball for two years. Interestingly, the fact Vizcaino won't ever be a staff ace either or even a starting pitcher never hurt his prospect ratings. Throw a blazing fastball and elbow damaging slider and your "high ceiling" will always be drooled over.

    Two words: Market... Imbalance.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Funny, I was thinking about Tommy John as a comparison. Just stood there flipping up junk, annoying batters for seven or eight innings a start, year after year after year. A guy as smart as Hendricks can help the whole staff, almost like a second pitching coach. Arrieta, Hendricks, it is fun to watch these guys. Travis Wood is better than this and hopefully he'll be stronger for wagering through this trough. It's an interesting time, after the sell-offs of 2012 and 13, the team collapsed. This team is seeing a gleam from the end of the tunnel, it's a very different feeling.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    There are very, very, very few pitchers that have the command and stuff (Hendricks may not throw hard, but he gets good movement on all of his pitches) that can get MLB hitters out with FB velocity in the mid to high 80s. And the vast majority of the guys that can do it are left handed changeup or cutter specialists. The effective soft tossing right hander is a rare bird. Difficult to take advantage of the market when there are only a handful of guys that can do it. And the ones that can are generally veterans (Bronson Arroyo types) that previously had better stuff and compensated for the decrease in velocity.

    Keep in mind, Dan Straily was basically the Oakland A's version of Kyle Hendricks. He put up great numbers and won a lot of games in the minors despite less than stellar stuff. All the fans were clamoring for him to prove the prognosticators wrong. He came up, had some success, but once he experienced some injury difficulty the wheels have come off and now he is back in the minors with a different organization. The trouble with this type of pitcher is they have so little room for error. If they lose even a 1-2 MPH off their FB they are throwing BP fastballs up there and when their control is off the stuff is good enough to get outs when the ball is over the plate.

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    Great article Cat!

    Hendrick's has been 10X better than I expected he would be. He's a little old school in the sense that you have such a young pitcher that already knows how to pitch versus guys that come up with +++ stuff and are forced to learn how to pitch as they get older and lose their stuff. If he can be a change of pace pitcher for us and give us 6-7 innings every time out and give the bullpen a lite day I think he would be a HUGE piece for us. Here's hoping!

  • O/T, but for those intrigued with the possible signing of Rusney Castillo, here's a breakdown of his workout in Miami last week. I had originally thought these were subscriber only content, or I would have posted the links sooner. I apologize if they've already been shared.

    Kid sounds like a Junior Lake power/speed combo, with a better over all hit tool, but a much weaker arm. Given recent speculation about him commanding up to $50MM+, IDK how optimistic I am that we will bite at that apple given how close Soler/Almora/AA/Bryant/Schwarber, etc are...

    Then again, if we have to trade some prospects for TOR pitching...

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    It's been talked about doingso for pitching, but I think he would be a great candidate for a strongly front loaded deal.

    If we hold into him, it frees up money for later deals and if we decide to move him when Almora/Schwarber comes up, then being very affordable later on could make him a huge value.

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