There's an ESPN Insider article by Buster Olney on Kyle Hendricks at ESPN.com today. For those of you without Insider access, I'll quote these paragraphs which are the gist of Hendricks' success:
Because of the downward trajectory of his fastball and his ability to command his changeup, Hendricks generates more soft contact than any pitcher in the big leagues, and really, it's not that close. According to FanGraphs, Stephen Strasburg, who, like [Clayton] Kershaw, has three extraordinary pitches, has generated soft contact 21.2 percent of the time. [Noah] Syndergaard is at 21.4 percent. [Max] Scherzer, the Nationals' ace who seems to flirt with no-hitters every other start, stands at 22.5 percent, the fifth-best starting pitcher in the majors.
Hendricks leads this category at a staggering 26.1 percent, meaning that the difference between him and Scherzer in this stat is enormous. As you would expect, Hendricks also leads the NL by having the lowest rate of hard-hit contact, and only a handful of pitchers have a better home run per fly ball rate.
And there you have it. The changeup, really, is Hendricks' best pitch, and his ability to change speeds and locate the way he does is the key to his success.
Keep up the great work, Kyle. Assuming John Lackey is available to start Sunday, Kyle's next start will be Monday in Milwaukee.
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Here are today's particulars.
Fowler CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Heyward RF, Russell SS, Coghlan LF, Ross C, Montgomery P
Span CF, Pagan LF, Posey C, Pence RF, Crawford SS, Panik 2B, Nunez 3B, Belt 1B, Samardzija P
Mike Montgomery has thrown pretty well in his two starts so far, and was pushed back a day so Jason Hammel could throw against the Pirates. That worked out; hopefully this move will, too. His only career start vs. the Giants was June 18, 2015. He allowed four runs in seven innings. Four current Giants have faced him and they're 3-for-12, which tells us pretty much nothing. Hope things go well for Montgomery tonight.
Hello, old friend! Jeff Samardzija is having a... Jeff Samardzija year. You know, the kind where he sometimes looks completely dominant, and other times just gets pounded. He had a decent August (2.76 ERA in five starts. Last time the Cubs faced him, August 14, 2015, "pounded" was what happened. Chris Coghlan hit two homers and Anthony Rizzo hit one. Supposedly Shark was tipping his pitches last year. Here's hoping for another pounding.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It's also available nationally on MLB Network. The MLB Network showcase will feature announcers Bob Costas and John Smoltz.
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The 2016 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used at the end of 2015. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream™ containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream™ as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.