Kyle Hendricks deserves some good news come playoff time

SHARE Kyle Hendricks deserves some good news come playoff time
587139008_62974266.jpg

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Who is the Cubs’ best pitcher?

That’s easy, right? Jake Arrieta. Defending National League Cy Young winner, scourge of major-league hitters, grower of impressive beards.

Actually, the answer is indeed easy: Kyle Hendricks. He leads the starting rotation in earned-run average (2.17), WHIP (1.02) and complete games (two), and is second in opponents’ batting average (.210). His 11-7 record is more a fluke than a reflection.

Now, which pitcher is manager Joe Maddon going to start in Game 1 of the Cubs’ first playoff series? Let’s put that another way: Do you think Maddon would have the gumption to tell Arrieta that he’s not going to get the ball? Not a chance.

But it could get trickier after that. If Maddon goes on merit, which is what sports is supposed to be about, Hendricks would be next up for a start. Maddon could argue that he doesn’t want to mess with a good thing – a rotation of Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Hendricks and Jason Hammel has been excellent all season.

It’s also likely Maddon would say he favors playoff experience over regular-season success. It’s why Lester was brought to Chicago, though that didn’t work out so well in last year’s postseason.

But like the case with Arrieta, that decision would sound like code for, “Hey, you try to telling Lester and Lackey that Hendricks is starting ahead of them.’’ Lackey is wound so tight that, in those moments when he does look happy, it’s as if somebody else’s lost smile has wandered onto this face. Lester isn’t much looser. No, it’s not fun to deliver bad news. But if you don’t, how do you look at players and tell them with a straight face that the best people play?

At some point, Hendricks deserves to be rewarded for being so good and so consistent this season. It’s the same with the number of innings Maddon gives him. Someday, the skipper has to consistently let Hendricks pitch more than five or six innings per start. Maybe that day has arrived: In his last two starts, Hendricks has pitched nine innings and 7 1/3 innings, respectively.

If these are problems, we should all have problems. But they could end up being momentous decisions down the road.


The Latest
“You’re really making clean energy the standard for buildings and for residents throughout our city,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference at the Chicago Urban League.
It becomes the third coffee chain in the Chicago area to be part of a labor organizing push.
“I think a haircut really can just reflect who you are as a person, so taking care of your hair is important because that’s a part of you and people look at it a lot,” said Jonathan Evans, 18.
Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara and Illinois Fraternal Order of Police President Chris Southwood stood with Bailey, who denounced Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx as “the three musketeers of crime.”
NFL
According to league spokesman Brian McCarthy, any trace of the substance in Rodgers’ system would not trigger a positive result under the substance abuse or performance-enhancing drug policies.