Encouraging Notes from Kyle Hendricks’ Last Start

In an outing that might have been the best of his injury-abbreviate year, Kyle Hendricks shut out the Cincinnati Reds through six innings Tuesday night. Cubs manager Joe Maddon was happy with his righty pitcher’s performance.

“He came out with a little better velocity and better location,” Maddon said. “Every pitch was working for him. He threw the curveball for a strike. He threw the four-seamers really well, up to 87 mph. Everything was right on. He pitched really well. That was more typical of Kyle. I was very pleased.”

Last year’s Cy Young candidate, who has been experiencing a dip in velocity all season, displayed a sinker with an average velocity of 85.7 mph. But his pitch speed was stronger toward the middle and tail end of the game.

As you can see above, Hendricks touched 86 mph twice through 35 pitches. From then on, though, he regularly went above 86 MPH and even hit 87 a few times. By pitch No. 76, he was consistently sitting over 86 miles per hour.

We here at Cubs Insider have touched on Hendricks’ surprisingly velocity dip on numerous occasions, finding that his velocity is lower with a higher release point. His release point on Tuesday was 5 percent lower than his 2017 average, which backs up that assertion. He wasn’t getting “stuck” in his mechanics, to use his own words, and that allowed his command to be sharp as well.

“That was a lot better tonight,” Hendricks said after the game. “The fastball command was number one for me. The changeup was good, and I had a few curves that were effective.”

While it’s only one game, I’m encouraged by this trend in velocity. Visually, too, that was the best I’ve seen the Cubs pitcher all year.

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