Kyle Hendricks got off to a rough start in 2019, so much so that it prompted me to discuss the possibility of using an opener for his outings. In his first five starts of the year, Hendricks went 1-4 with a 5.33 ERA, a 1.776 WHIP and a 3.0 K/BB ratio that sat lower than any previous season of his career.
Since then, however, Hendricks has gone 5-0 with an ERA of 2.09, a 0.77 WHIP and 7.8 K/BB in seven starts. He leads the Cubs in most pitching stats, including ERA (3.16), wins (6), WHIP (1.10), and innings pitched (77.0). Hendricks was also the first Cub to throw a “Maddux” since Carlos Zambrano in 2009, when he dominated the Cardinals back on May 3.
Given that Hendricks is the best pitcher on a club that has climbed back into first place from the bottom of the standings after a 2-7 start, does he deserve a slot on the National League All-Star roster?
As things stand right now, I would guess the likely starting pitcher for the NL squad in the 2019 Midsummer Classic will be Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers (especially since Dave Roberts will be managing the NL team yet again this year). Members of the staff will be chosen through “a combination of player ballot choices and selections made by the commissioner’s office,” so let’s take a look at Hendricks’ performance relative to MLB’s top pitchers to see whether he deserves to make the cut.
Hendricks’ 2.2 fWAR ranks fifth in the NL, eclipsed only by strikeout king Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals (3.4), Ryu (2.7), Stephen Strasburg of the Nats (2.6), and German Márquez of the Colorado Rockies (2.3). In terms of ERA, Hendricks (3.16) is currently 17th in MLB. The only NL starters with a better mark are Ryu (#1 with 1.35), Zach Davies (2.20), Luis Castillo (2.38), and Zach Eflin (3.02).
When looking at some more advanced stats, Hendricks still finds himself among the top 30 in MLB: 18th in WHIP (1.10), 12th in K/BB (5.07) and 6th in BB% (4.4).
Based on these numbers, it’s safe to say Hendricks should be representing the Cubs in this year’s All-Star game. Remember to vote for your favorite Cubs position players so he has some company!