The 26 year old Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks is starting out the 2016 season in wonderful form. So good, in fact, that he’s up with the likes of Noah Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw when it comes to keeping the ball from getting hit hard during his starts.
7.5% of Hendricks pitches have been hit hard, falling just short of Syndergaard’s 7.2% for the top slot.
The key to all of this has been his pitch selection; most of his off-speed pitches just can’t be touched. This season Hendricks has thrown 183 change-ups and allowed only one hard hit ball. His change-up has the lowest hard-hit rate (1.4%) of any starter in the majors.
Finally, his cutter – which he prefers to use mostly as his finisher pitch. Last Thursday, for instance, he got seven outs with the pitch, and without giving up a hit. Opposing batters are hitting just a measly .103 in at-bats that end with Hendricks cutter thus far in 2016.