After a shaky outing in the season opener, the Cubs’ right-hander was masterful against the Brewers — allowing four hits, walking one and striking out six in six shutout innings. “That was a better version of Kyle for sure,” manager David Ross said.
Kyle Hendricks is back. As expected, it didn’t take long.
After an uncharacteristic performance in the season-opener, Hendricks returned to form against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. The veteran right-hander allowed four hits and one walk with six strikeouts in six shutout innings.
Against the Pirates on April 1, Hendricks had allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in three shaky innings. Just better rhythm and timing.
“It felt a lot better, from the first pitch,” Hendricks said. “I was working over the ball better. I was in my lanes better. Fast ball command from the jump was way better than the last start. Definitely on the right track. Just got to keep working on those things and get it to be ingrained in me and not be working so hard.”
Cubs manager David Ross said he was impressed by the entire staff during the opening homestand. But Hendricks’ performance stood out.
“He looked more comfortable, in rhythm,” Ross said.
“Executing pitches in and out. Good depth to the change-up. The fast ball command was much better — [he was] ahead of hitters a lot more. That was a better version of Kyle for sure.”
Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich had a single and double against Hendricks, both on pitches away. Yelich was batting .194 (6-for-31) in his career against Hendricks coming into the game.
“He had a good approach today,” Hendricks said. “He was aggressive in the right spots and kind of seeing me out. I’m supposed to face [the Brewers] my next start. I’ll have to look at some video and make adjustments for sure.”
After Joc Pederson’s eighth-inning home run — only the third hit for the Cubs in the last two games at the time — teammate Ian Happ jokingly presented Pederson with a waffle-maker in its original box. Just an inside joke.
“We haven’t been getting too many hits as a team,” Pederson said, “so I texted [Happ] and a couple of them last night. He said, ‘Yeah, I’m bringing the waffle-maker. You know — ‘waffle some balls.’ It was pretty funny.”
While the hitting was abysmal in the opening homestand, the Cubs pitching was promising. Starters Hendricks (3.00), Jake Arrieta (1.50), Trevor Williams (3.00) and Zach Davies (3.18) combined for a 2.70 ERA. Even Adbert Alzolay (7.20) settled down after a rough first inning against the Brewers. Arrieta will face the Pirates at 12:35 p.m. Thursday at PNC Park.
Closer Craig Kimbrel (0.00) retired all nine batters he faced. Andrew Chafin (0.00) struck out eight of 14 batters he faced. And while others had hiccups, Ross was impressed overall.
“I’m super-pleased with that,” Ross said. “It’s gonna need to be a strength of ours. It seemed like [the starters] settled in real nice. The bullpen did a really nice job. I’m building some trust in those [bullpen] guys. It was nice to see.”