The Rundown: A Change Gon’ Come, Bend it Like Edwards, Cubs Hand Out More Rings

The delivery, particularly the no-nonsense manner in which he sets his cleats against the rubber, is strictly utilitarian, a way to confer baseballs from mound to dish simply and effectively. In that, he’s like a Humvee, though Kyle Hendricks is more easily likened to a Honda CR-V with the way he hunkers down all low and nondescript. And I’m not even talking about the high-end models with power everything, either.

His windup is akin to cranking down the manual window to talk with the teller at the local bank; Hendricks seems like a guy who prefers this antiquated human interaction to the emotionless ATM experience. He moves quickly without hurrying and appears fastidious without being fussy. And like the automated teller he so despises, his face betrays little feeling beyond detached exasperation and occasional bemusement.

So Hendricks went out Tuesday evening and mixed tumbling changeups with fastballs that didn’t come in as hard as the offspeed stuff zipped up there by his counterpart. Like a teacher chalking his name on the board on the first day of school, Hendricks ticked off outs with a pitch that didn’t reach 80 mph. The first six outs he recorded came via the change and he’d eventually use it to retire 13 of the 18 Reds he sat down.

There were six strikeouts in there as well, five of which came on the change. All five were of the swinging variety. Even most of the walks he issued came on borderline pitches that made you wonder aloud how the hitters were able to hold off and how the home plate umpire wasn’t ringing them up.

And when the Cincinnati hitters did put bat to ball, they generated less hard contact (13.3%) than any team had against Hendricks in 15 previous starts. That, my friends, is the real key. Not the strikeouts, which he’s back to getting about eight of per nine innings, but the soft contact. If Hendricks is able to avoid barrels, that’s when he’s at his best. We saw some of that last night and his performance since coming back from the DL is indicative of more good things to come.

Carl’s Junior pitch

Though his stature is evocative of the man who preceded him Tuesday, Carl Edwards Jr. isn’t going to be confused with Kyle Hendricks any time soon. And I’m just talking about the repertoire. The fastball gets all the pub, but it’s the curve that really makes Edwards a weapon out of the bullpen. When it’s right, it traces an arc like the winding mountain roads in every sports car commercial ever made.

But sit on the bender at your own peril, for behind it comes the high-90’s heat of the fastball. Reds hitters had no clue what was coming at them last night, alternately frozen by and flailing at offerings that either split the heart of the plate or took dirt naps that forced Vic Caratini to smother them lest the runners advanced.

Oh, and they weren’t Edwards’ runners. No, he came into a dirty inning and used filthy pitches to wipe the slate clean. This came against the weakest part of the Reds’ order, but given the situation — scoreless game, two men on, no outs — it was a sign that he’s once again being trusted with high-leverage outings.

It’s all about throwing strikes.

More rings to non-Cubs

While there was a good deal of PR surrounding the Cubs presenting Steve Bartman with a World Series ring, it appears they took a quieter tack with other folks who were not part of the organization when they hoisted the trophy last year.

In a column about Jerry Reinsdorf’s pursuit of a title on the other side of town, Bob Nightengale revealed that former manager Rick Renteria had received a ring. What’s more, former manager Dale Sveum and former GM Jim Hendry were presented with rings. So, this is a cool gesture and all, but does anyone else feel that it’s a little…I don’t know, weird?

I mean, this isn’t like voting playoff shares to a guy who was traded mid-season or during spring training. And in the cases of Hendry and Sveum, it’s not as much a sort of mea culpa for the way things went down. Even with Renteria, it seems a little strange. While he should feel some pride in seeing the guys he managed for a year winning it all, I can’t imagine he’s super stoked to get a ring for something he didn’t have a hand in. At least not directly.

Maybe I’m wrong and these guys were simply honored by the gesture and it’s definitely not a matter of Jostens giving the Cubs such a volume discount that they ended up a bunch of freebies that they didn’t want to go to waste. I don’t have a problem with the team handing out more rings, I just can’t really understand the motivation for the ever-expanding circle of recipients.

More news and notes

There’s other stuff going on, but not a great deal that impacts the Cubs either directly or otherwise. I guess it’s fun to think about Giancarlo Stanton clearing waivers. Oh, also, nazis and white nationalists are bad and sympathizing with them is also bad. In case that was not already clear.

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