Chicago Cubs

Kyle Hendricks starting Opening Day for Cubs is a richly-deserved honor

Kyle Hendricks is getting a well-deserved Opening Day start for the Chicago Cubs.

The Chicago Cubs have All-Star pitchers in the starting rotation in Jon Lester and Yu Darvish. But neither of those two are getting this year’s Opening Day start.

That honor belongs to Kyle Hendricks, who was given the nod by his former catcher and current manager David Ross.

Kyle Hendricks earned this start

Hendricks made his debut with the Cubs in 2014 and has been in the rotation ever since. A 3.95 ERA back in ’15 is the highest mark he has ever posted and he is coming off a 4.0 WAR season in ’19.

The veteran is the fourth-highest paid starting pitcher on the team and has never made an All-Star Game. But his legend was born during the 2016 season when he finished third in NL Cy Young voting and posted a league-leading 2.13 ERA during the championship season.

New Cubs manager David Ross got to see Hendricks in action during that special 2016 season and his first-hand experience should put any doubts about the move to rest. He saw Hendricks arguably get robbed of the Cy Young Award while also pitching nine innings of one-run baseball in that year’s World Series.

Hendricks’ ERA has not gone above 3.46 in the past three seasons since 2016 and his K/9 has settled into a nice career average of 7.6. He also posted the highest WAR of any pitcher on the team in 2019. Darvish was second at 3.5.

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The Cubs have stuck with Hendricks since 2014 and he has proven to be one of the more under-appreciated players in the game. He is under contract through 2023 and this Opening Day start could be the first of more to come if he continues pitching like he has his entire career.

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