As a big Kyle Hendricks fan, I tuned in, wanting to see the 2023 version of the veteran Cubs righthander. Certainly, there were glimpses of the old Kyle. He had a nice run of outs after a rough start, setting down seven in a row. I’ve talked at times in the past of turn your head to the left, turn your head to the right and you see a different picture. This was definitely one of those times.
Certainly, if you were excited about Kyle coming back and open to the possibility of a 2023 Hendricks that can be an effective contributor. There were those tantalizing seven outs. There were awkward swings. There was a lot of soft contact and balls that weren’t squared up. Certainly, among the string of paper cuts that ruined Kyle’s evening, a few inches here and a few feet there and the night would have been very different. Even on the hits there were awkward swings. The Mets didn’t do much expanding the zone on a host of pitches just off the edge of the strike zone. Kyle just missed a handful of times on pitches that could have changed things.
You don’t have to squint much when you turn your head the other way. Six hits, two walks, a hit batter, and five runs (though only three earned). His 4⅓ innings more or less took the Cubs out of any chance to win. The Mets were able to lay off of nearly every borderline pitch. They were able to get the bat on the ball over and over again.
We’ve all learned not to over rely on the stats from one game. You can’t make conclusions from this one appearance. I’ll say this, the hallmark of “bad” Kyle was the long ball. I looked through his game logs in 2022. Every game that he allowed four or more runs in featured at least one homer. In 2021, the majority of the games with four or more runs featured at least one homer. Also recall that Hendricks had a consistent history of being a slow starter.
So here’s my impression, take what you will of this. The results weren’t good. Period, end of sentence. Also, some of the things you wanted to see were there. I certainly understand that the margins for this team are thin and they’ve already frittered away some early games. But I’m inclined to give him more rope. I think he’s earned more rope than this. It’s fair to think that a pitcher who always had a thin margin of error has had his window close on him. It’s also possible that Kyle just couldn’t catch the breaks in this one. Maybe if one or two balls found a glove and one or two borderline pitches drew a swing and miss and Kyle would have had a totally effective start. Let’s not close the book on him just yet.
Unfortunately, on the other side a recently returned from injury pitcher, with a long history of excellence and a recent history of struggles, turned in a turn back the clock game. He was extremely effectively. To the extent that he wasn’t at times, all of the Cubs contact went right at fielders. Virtually nothing found a hole and the only offense was a long ball. The Cubs extended their streak of not being shut out to start the season to 49 games. It’s an impressive run.
Turn the page. Day game after a night game. Let’s find three positives and move on.
- Dansby Swanson is the hands-down star of this one. There was very little good in this one. So the homer that tied the game in the first was the high point of the game.
- Seiya Suzuki stayed hot. He had a pair of singles and a walk in four plate appearances. He’s now past 150 plate appearances on the season. He’s reached that mark with a .293/.383/.504 line (wRC+ 142). It appears we are starting to see what Suzuki can be.
- Brandon Hughes retired both batters he faced. Unfortunately, even there, a double steal paired with a throwing error led to an inherited run scoring (charged to Hendricks).
Game 49, May 25: Mets 10 at Cubs 1 (22-27)
Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.
- Superhero: Dansby Swanson (.056). 1-4, HR, RBI, R, K
- Hero: Seiya Suzuki (.030). 2-3, BB, K
- Sidekick: Matt Mervis (.005). 0-3, BB, K
- Billy Goat: Kyle Hendricks (-.270). 4⅓ IP, 22 batters, 6K, 2BB, 5R (3ER), 5K, HBP (L 0-1)
- Goat: Mike Tauchman (-.111). 0-3, BB, K
- Kid: Christopher Morel (-.055). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: With runners on second and third with two outs in the third inning, the Mets were only up one. Starling Marte singled to right and two runs scored. (.161)
*Cubs Play of the Game: With one out in the first, the Cubs were down one when Dansby Swanson hit a solo homer to tie it up. (.106)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
Yesterday’s Winner: Marcus Stroman (Superhero is 33-15) - Stroman received 166 out of 171 votes
Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)
The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.
- Justin Steele/Marcus Stroman +13
- Mark Leiter Jr. +9.5
- Ian Happ +7
- Drew Smyly +6
- Michael Fulmer -7
- Trey Mancini -8
- Jameson Taillon -10
- Patrick Wisdom/Nico Hoerner -10.5
Up Next: The Reds come to town over the weekend. The Reds haven’t turned a corner yet and find themselves in last place, 21-29. They’ve lost seven of 10.
In the opener, Justin Steele (6-1, 2.20, 61⅓ IP) starts for the Cubs. Steele allowed no run on four hits and a walk in six innings in his last start at Philadelphia. He’s been pretty consistent, if we narrow down to his last seven starts, he is 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA. He did not start against the Reds when the Cubs faced them earlier this year.
The Reds have Hunter Greene on the mound. The 23-year-old right hander is 0-4 with a 4.68 ERA. Last time out, he pitched against the Yankees in Cincinnati. Greene threw seven innings, striking out 10. But he also allowed four hits, three walks and four runs. He too has been pretty consistent. If we cut our lens to seven games, he was 0-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 36 innings.