With Jake Arrieta making headlines for command problems, and after Jon Lester followed an award-winning June with the worst start of his career Sunday, the caboose of the Cubs’ rotation chugged to his third victory in a row Monday – and into the thick of the National League ERA leaders.
Not that Kyle Hendricks ever seems to get much attention in a rotation that includes a Cy Young winner and $207 million worth of free agent starters.
“Coming up I kind of was always like that just because I didn’t have power stuff, so it’s been kind of my track record,” said Hendricks (7-6) after beating the Reds 10-4 with 5 1/3 innings in which he didn’t allow an earned run. “I definitely don’t mind [being under the radar].”
Hendricks, who would have finished the sixth if the Cubs’ shifted infield didn’t flub a double-play chance, goes to the All-Star break with a 2.61 ERA – second on the team to Arrieta (2.33) and sixth in the league.
“Kyle’s pitched as well as anybody on this team right now,” said manager Joe Maddon, who opted to make his No. 5 starter the odd man out when Adam Warren was added to the schedule Wednesday for a spot start to give the rotation and extra day.
Hendricks, who has helped his cause in recent starts by more often mixing his curve ball and a four-seam (mph-added) fastball, makes the Cubs first start after the All-Star break, July 15 against Texas.
He has allowed just three earned runs in his last four starts combined — all Cubs victories. In his last 13 starts (dating to April 26), he’s 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA.
“If they had me keep on pitching, it’d be fine, but they’re giving me a break; I’ll take it,” said Hendricks, who is 22-15 with a 3.25 ERA in 61 career starts since debuting with the Cubs in the summer of 2014.
“I feel comfortable,” he added. “I’ve been on a little bit of a roll. I’m getting good work between starts, and when I’m out there, it’s just been simple thoughts: just make good pitches.”