Never known for his blazing velocity, Kyle Hendricks has thrown much slower to start 2017 compared to previous years. Last season’s ERA champion averaged 88.9 mph with his four-seam and 88.2 with his sinker. This year, however, his sinker is averaging just a few decimals over 86 and the four-seam 86.6 mph.
But in his most recent start, Hendricks was throwing his sinker faster — 86.8 mph to be exact — nearly a full mile per hour higher that his previous 2017 starts. Of course, the average isn’t still quite what we’re used to seeing, but it’s a positive sign nonetheless.
Wednesday’s winner even acknowledged the improvements following his latest performance.
“I got stronger in the later innings,” Hendricks said to reporters. “I felt much better, much more under control. Getting stronger as the game goes on, that’s always a good sign.”
In fact, he was likely averaging 88 mph in the latter innings of the game. That in itself is the most encouraging sign.
“I talked to him afterward, and he was really excited,” Joe Maddon said.
The Cubs are going to need vintage Kyle Hendricks as the season wears on. It appeared that’s exactly who they had on the mound Wednesday, which was the first time we saw him throw with such vigor.