Last night the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds squared off for the third game of their four game series after the Cubs had won the first two games. However, in this one the Reds would be playing at full strength for the first time in the series with the return of Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel. How would it go?
For the Cubs, badly. In fact, I’m just gonna run down some of the basics here – Nick Castellanos reminded everyone why the Cubs should have kept him, Dillon Maples threw 8 strikes out of 26 pitches, the Cubs were able to execute a triple play because third base umpire Larry Vanover blew a catch call that happened 15 feet in front of him, Kris Bryant drove in runs for the first time this year, but is still mired in a 2-for-22 slump, and David Bote hit a home run in garbage time.
The main thing I want to talk about is Kyle Hendricks. After winning Player of the Week honors for his Opening Night complete game shutout, he got his shit wrecked last night, allowing 6 earned runs on 7 hits. He hit the showers before the Reds had their second out of the fifth inning.
Normally, you’d shrug in Hendricksian fashion, and figure he’ll get ’em next time. And he probably will, since his next start is in Wrigley Field.
Which brings us to the heart of the matter.
Last season, and two starts into this one, there are two different guys wearing number 28 for the Cubs. Wrigley Hendricks is an elite pitcher, posting a WHIP of 0.87 an FIP of 3.68 and an ERA of 2.04. Road Hendricks is downright brutal, with a 1.41 WHIP, 4.42 FIP and 5.02 ERA.
Moreover, it seems that even his control changes. His walk rate jumps from 3.7% at home to 5.1% on the road. His strikeout rate drops from 23.1% to 18.1%. And he’s just more hittable, with his hard contact jumping from 26.8% at home to 40.1% on the road.
So for Kyle, Wrigley Field is indeed the friendly confines. Of course, the question is why? Does he get a hearty pre-game breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s that turns him into Greg Maddux? Is there something with the blue jerseys? Does he not sleep well in hotel rooms?
Of course, none of those are real reasons, regardless of how good breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s is. And you better believe that Cubs’ pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is working with Hendricks to figure it out. But until they do, let’s enjoy the fact that his next start, as previously stated, will be in Wrigley Field. And you might as well look at the Cubs schedule and hope it falls where every fifth game from here on out is at home more than on the road.
Tonight the Cubs and Reds play the series finale, in which Yu Darvish squares off against Luis Castillo in a race to who strikes out 10 first. And now I want breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s.