The comparisons were always going to be there. Young, right-handed starter that gets guys out more on guile than stuff. The fact that one looked bookish smart and the other is an Ivy League graduate doesn't hurt either. Then one made a speech prior to his induction into Cooperstown almost moments before the other made his first pitch of his third career big league start.
The desire to write passing-of-the-torch type material, or to make those obvious superficial comparisons to a Hall of Famer who shares a few traits with a current Cubs youngster, is at an all-time high right now. Do yourself a favor and just stop.
Internet law: if you say a pitcher lacks enough velocity to be a big league starter, some dipstick will bring up Greg Maddux.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) July 22, 2014
Let's talk about Greg Maddux first here. The myth that Greg Maddux was an all-control, no-stuff junk-ball master needs to die immediately. When he first arrived in the majors, Greg Maddux would sit in the low 90's with his fastball. Yes, later in his career, he pitched in the mid-80's, but notice as his velocity dropped so did his effectiveness. Pitcher velocity data is only available back to 2002, which was the last sub-3 ERA season for Greg Maddux. His velocity dipped to 85 and under on the fastball and his ERA never fell below 4 in a season for the remainder of his career.
The other aspect that is problematic for any Greg Maddux comparison is that Maddux had excellent movement and plus-plus command on his pitches. Maddux made a living off of starting a two seamer at a left-handed batter's hip and having the pitch dart to the inside corner of the strike zone. He was able to do this because of those two impressive skills. So even as the velocity began to decline, Maddux was still pitching at an ace level due to great movement and command.
The worship of velocity in pitchers might be true, but there is a reason that velocity has been increasing in pitchers. If velocity did not help, this increase would not be happen; but Kyle Hendricks has well below average velocity. His 88 mph average fastball would rank ninth among all pitchers if he qualified. That does not bode well, since his velocity is only going to decline from this point.
I've been a Hendricks doubter and it is still very early. But he is certainly easy to root for as he continues to prove doubters wrong.
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) July 27, 2014
@dabynsky they're both backend profiles, tend to lean Hendricks more since Bosio loves him.
— Mauricio Rubio Jr. (@MRubio52) July 27, 2014
Kyle Hendricks' career is more likely to be Frank Castillo than Greg Maddux, but that does not mean that it isn't a success. Hendricks has beaten the odds to get to the major leagues in the first place, as he is without any true wipeout pitch. And I defer to Chris Bosio's level of knowledge when it comes to pitching.
You saw the flashes of what Hendricks can be yesterday in the last A.J. Pierzynski at-bat. Hendricks threw a changeup on the outside corner that drifted far off the plate to get a swinging strike two. He then came back with a cut fastball that started in the exact same spot but drifted to the outside corner to get the third strike looking. That was one at-bat; Greg Maddux could do that same thing consistently for an entire season.
It is a huge win for the Cubs organization if Kyle Hendricks can be trusted to take the ball every fifth day. Hendricks' best case is probably a back-end-of-the-rotation starter, but perhaps that plays up a bit with his intelligence and makeup. If it does, the Cubs won the lottery. But despite some convenient similarities, people can stop comparing Hendricks to a Hall of Famer.
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