The thinking on Hendricks' thinking: It's all good
We have a few leftover items from last night's Kyle Hendricks show and some notes leading into tonight's game against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Hendricks, with the help of two relievers, beat the Brewers 3-0. By working 7.1 innings and giving up 6 hits and no runs, Hendricks turned in his fifth straight quality start. Hendricks has put together 4 starts of at least 7 innings and 2 or fewer earned runs within his first 6 career starts. He became the first Cub to do that since Frank Castillo in 1991.
As you know, Hendricks is a Dartmouth graduate and a bright kid. Sometimes you'll hear the term “over-thinking” it in baseball (and in life). Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he doesn't worry about that with Hendricks.
I don't think he's an over-thinker,” Renteria said. “I think he's got a really even-keeled temperament. In terms of his intelligence, I think he's using it to gather information. The thing is, this guy's a baseball player, really confident in himself, really comfortable in his own skin, really knows how to go about his business when he gets on the hill. He just sees every hitter as a batsman in the box. He knows what their strengths and weaknesses are. He knows what his strengths and weaknesses are. And I think he kind of combines them both, prepares and goes out and attacks the hitters the way he think he needs to.
“I think not only myself, but everybody, is excited when he takes the hill because you always, at this point now and he's only been here a little while, you feel really comfortable with the idea that he's going to give you a good outing. I think his teammates feel it. I think over the course of the season a lot of the pitchers we've had have developed that confidence with their teammates, and they like going out there and playing for them.”
Hendricks also is not a flamethrower. Renteria said Hendricks' intelligence can help him succeed with his repertoire.
“For that type of pitcher to be effective, believe it or not, I think he has to be an intelligent individual,” the manager said. “I think he's got to understand what he has available to him, trying not to buy into the radar gun, so to speak, which kind of takes them away from doing what it is that they do. I think it also is a situation where you overlook pitchers like him because you don't see the radar gun. Credit the Cubbies. Think about it. They're allowing them to progress, and they're allowing them to get here and see what happens. So far, so good.”
Tsuyoshi Wada (1-1, 3.25) goes for the Cubs tonight against Kyle Lohse (11-6, 3.33).
From the game note: Cubs starting pitchers have a 1.99 ERA (9 earned runs in 40.2 innings) with 6 quality starts in their last six games. For the season, the Cubs are 35-27 when they get a quality start, and the starters have an ERA of 1.87 in those starts. When the Cubs don't get a quality start, they are 16-40, and the starters have an ERA of 7.12 in those games.
Anthony Rizzo last night hit his major-league leading homer run on the first pitch of an at-bat. Baltimore's Nelson Cruz is second with 9 first-pitch homers. Rizzo is batting .396 (21-for-57) when putting the first pitch in play. Rizzo is the fourth Cub since 2002 to reach 10 first-pitch homers in a season and the first since Aramis Ramirez, who had 12 in 2011. Derrek Lee had 11 in 2009, and Moises Alou had 14 in 2004.
We'll talk more about this with Renteria in our pregame meeting today.
Starlin Castro enters tonight with an 11-game hitting streak (18-for-45, .400). That's a season high for the Cubs. Castro now has nine hitting streaks to 10 or more games in his career, including two career-best 14-game runs.
Kris Bryant hit his 17th home run of the season for Class AAA Iowa last night in the I-Cubs' 6-5 loss to Las Vegas. It was Bryant's 39th home run of the season overall between Iowa and Class AA Tennessee, giving him the minor-league lead. He has homered once every 11.05 at-bats.
Rehabbing lefty Felix Doubront made his first start for Iowa in the game. He went 4 innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 runs, all earned while walking two and striking out seven. Doubront came to the Cubs from the Red Sox July 30, and he has been on the DL with a left-calf strain.
Doubront sounds eager for a new challenge after mixed results in Boston.
"The past is the past," Doubront told Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register.
He also seemed pleased with his outing.
"It felt different," Doubront said. "It's a new beginning for me."