By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) Maybe he shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as a 355-game winner, but Cubs rookie right-hander Kyle Hendricks is showing some of the same style that Greg Maddux did at an early part of his career. Hendricks has gone deep into games against some of the elite teams in the National League, moving his record to 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA after Chicago’s 3-0 win against Milwaukee on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Hendricks recorded his third straight quality start with 7 1/3 innings of shutout baseball against the first-place Brewers.
“He really knows what he is doing,” Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. “He knows how to slow things down and figure things out, even though he is really young.”
Hendricks was acquired in the deal that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas two years ago, and he was Chicago’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2013. Using a below-the-batter’s-hitting-speed method of pitching has served Hendricks well against fastball-hitting clubs like Milwaukee.
“It has been movement and location,” Hendricks said after Tuesday’s game. “I have not thrown many pitches over the middle of the plate. I did make a couple of mistakes tonight, I got away with one to (Ryan) Braun right over the middle of the plate. I would say (there were) only three or four pitches I would want back. I just wanted to keep it on the corners with movement to keep getting quick outs.”
Hendricks has gone seven or more innings in his last three starts and four of his last five. Buzzing troublesome hitters like Carlos Gomez helped establish his turf and a right to the inside of the plate Tuesday.
“He really has conviction as to what he wants to do,” Cubs manager Rickey Renteria said. “There is no reason for him to panic or to have a sense of fear. He knows (when he is in a jam) how to go about getting out of a problem. Most people who have a plan of attack have a sense of calm about them.”
Hendricks has been extremely difficult to score on, posting a 1.11 ERA over his last five starts (five earned runs in 40 2/3 innings). Similar to Maddux, he pitches fast and doesn’t let the batter get too comfortable in the box.
“He may look young, but he knows what he wants to do and does not waste any time,” Castillo said.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.