SAN DIEGO – There are moments when the starting pitcher truly lives up to his name, and his opponents become students in his latest class on pitching in Major League Baseball.
Sometimes those lessons aren’t given as often as, say, 2016, but when Kyle Hendricks steps to the lectern with the right syllabus in hand, the education can be quite effective.
An example was Monday night, when “The Professor” stepped up in front of the Padres and conducted a class that was much needed for a slumping Cubs team starting a trip out west. Hendricks fell just short of a complete game, going 8 2/3 innings, but didn’t allow a run and scattered three hits in a 6-0 Cubs victory.
It was the longest outing for the pitcher since his complete game shutout of the Brewers on 2020 Opening Day at Wrigley Field on July 24th of that year to start the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. His 116 pitches on the night were the most he’s thrown in a game since a complete game victory over the Marlins on August 1, 2016 when he had 123 pitches.
On this night, Hendricks struck out seven batters while walking just one as a runner never reached third base the entire game. This performance came after allowing six earned runs to the Brewers in a loss on April 29th then four to the White Sox last Wednesday, both Cubs losses.
Hendricks’ offense gave him plenty of support, with a run in the first inning on a Seiya Suzuki double being all the Cubs would need. The outfielder would bring in another run in the fifth on a groundout but he would leave the game with right ankle soreness.
Willson Contreras continued his strong stretch at the plate with another three-hit game as the designated hitter, giving him seven for the last three games.
But the spotlight belonged to Hendricks on this night as the pitcher delivered a memorable lesson to a group of Padres’ hitters on Monday evening.