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2016 Cubs Spring Training Countdown: 28 Days

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Cubs uniform number 28 has been worn by some not-so-great players in recent years. Maybe that's changing.

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

When Kyle Hendricks joined the Cubs in midseason 2014 and was assigned uniform No. 28, he became the first Cubs pitcher to wear the number in almost 20 years. The previous hurler to wear that number was closer Randy Myers, who wore it from 1993-95.

Myers had some good years in a Cubs uniform (and still holds the Cubs' single-season save record, 53 in 1993). But Hendricks has been a fine performer in his season-and-a-half in blue pinstripes and I think he can still get better.

You might be a little put off by Hendricks' early exits from some starts in 2015, particularly in the postseason. But the Cubs were 19-13 in his 32 starts, and as he did in his debut season in 2014, Hendricks kept the walks to a minimum in 2015, just 43 in 180 innings. His 1.161 WHIP ranked tied for 12th in the National League. Hendricks posted 1.8 bWAR (3.4 fWAR) and personally, I think he can better those figures in 2016.

Hendricks is a smart man who seems willing to make adjustments to his game as hitters adjust to his. He'll never be a flamethrowing 95 mile-per-hour guy, but he seems to know how to locate and change speeds as needed.

His performance in 2016, as the fourth starter behind Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey (I'm assuming Jason Hammel is the No. 5 at this point, but that could change) will be a key to the Cubs performing well this season.

You all know I've been a big Hendricks fan since he was acquired by trade. I'm hoping 2016 is his breakout season. Four weeks from today, when pitchers and catchers report, we'll begin to find out.