(CBS) With a breakout third season in the big leagues, Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks has put his name front and center into the conversation of the National League Cy Young race. So what’s he have to do down the stretch to actually win the award?
Cubs television play-by-play man Len Kasper weighed in with his thoughts Tuesday on the Boers and Bernstein Show, saying Hendricks should win the Cy Young with a strong finish to the 2016 season.
Hendricks leads all of baseball with a 2.07 ERA, which is nearly a half-run ahead of the the next-closest mark of 2.51 by Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, entering play Wednesday. Hendricks’ 0.99 WHIP is second in the NL, trailing only the 0.92 mark of Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer. Hendricks is also 14-7, which ties him for the fifth-most wins in the NL.
“He’s at the point where, in my opinion, if he continues to do exactly what he’s done all year — and that is six innings, one run or seven innings, no runs — and wins the ERA title by almost a half of a run, which would be pretty remarkable, he would be my top choice,” Kasper said. “When people think Cy Young, they think strikeouts and they think a lot of innings. Those two things hurt his case just a little bit. That’s why if he is going to be the Cy Young (winner), in my opinion, he’s got to win the ERA title by a pretty good amount.”
Also helping Hendricks’ cause is that Dodgers ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw hasn’t pitched since June 26 because of a back injury. He’s expected to start Friday but his absence means he won’t have enough innings pitched to qualify for the ERA title. Kershaw is 11-2 with a 1.79 ERA and 0.73 WHIP this season.
“Now what helps him is, you’ve seen some things written here lately about Kershaw,” Kasper said. “Clayton Kershaw’s not even going to have enough innings to even qualify for the ERA title, so even if he’s brilliant down the stretch, he’s probably not quite in the mix. I think he might finish in the top five because he’s been just dominating. I don’t know if you can give him the Cy Young with his amount of innings. But that’s the one thing voters do tend to look at — strikeouts. Wins shouldn’t matter, but they might. And then the innings pitched. Aside from that, yeah, if you’re just giving it to the performance of the year, I think Kyle Hendricks can make a very strong case.”
Scherzer is 16-7 with a 2.88 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, while Syndergaard entered his Wednesday start with a 12-8 record, 2.56 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Bumgarner is 14-8 with a 2.51 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Those three are considered Hendricks’ competition.
Syndergaard leads all NL pitchers with a 5.7 WAR, per Fangraphs. Hendricks is seventh in the NL at 3.6.