Crack um open folks, your Uncle Juice is back with a brand new edition of the Corner Stool. With the wind blowing in this afternoon, mini Maddux took the bump in the first of a three-game set against the rival Cardinals. As I mentioned in a previous edition, Kyle Hendricks struggled mightily in his last start surrendering seven runs on ten hits in the desert. Kyle took the mound today on a cold afternoon at the Friendly Confines, and he did not disappoint.
Throughout his career, the Professor has been mentioned in the same breath as Greg Maddux, and those comparisons suit him. Both were masters of their craft, none possessing overwhelming stuff, just two pitchers who use a mix of pitches to keep hitters off balance. Today was about as Maddux-esque as ever. Kyle used his arsenal to induce weak contact from the jump and cruised to an 81-pitch Maddux. Rizzo delivered a three run shot in the third, and the Cubs pulled within a game and a half of the division lead.
Now many of you may be asking, Uncle Juice, what the hell is a Maddux? Well boys and girls, a Maddux start classifies as a complete game shutout while throwing less than 100 pitches, a feat that the Hall of Famer managed to complete 13 times. The next in line is Zane Smith, who only had seven. The last pitcher in a Cubs uniform to complete the Greg was none other than the Chicago Dogs own Carlos Zambrano on September 25, 2009 (#GoDogs). Prior to Big Z, Jon Lieber was the last to accomplish the feat against the Reds on May 24, 2001, which only required 78 pitches that day at Wrigley Field.
A start like today will always make me chuckle. While many front office managers and scouts will seek to acquire fireballers with devastating off speed stuff, guys like Kyle Hendricks remind us that, much like real estate, there is only one important trait when pitching. That trait isn’t the ability to throw 98 MPH or have devastating looping offspeed stuff, it is and always will be about location, location, and location.
Today’s start by Hendricks brought me back to a beautiful time in my life in 2016 on a cold night in October when the Cubs had a chance to win the pennant. Kyle, cool, calm, and collected, went into that start painting corners and outsmarting a talented Dodger lineup. He used his fastball command and changeup to pitch his team into the World Series. It was true then and it stays true now. I do not currently have any children, but I promise you all this: if he is a fan of baseball, a Kyle Hendricks start may be the first one I show. He is a constant reminder to all of us that you don’t have to be the strongest or the fastest, you just have to be the smartest. And that’s a message I can get behind.
Featured Photo: NBCsports.com