Chicago Cubs

Can Kyle Hendricks win his first Cy Young in 2020?

Kyle Hendricks has been a great pitcher for years.

Kyle Hendricks will start Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs, and that may have surprised some fans who expected to see Jon Lester or Yu Darvish receive the honor. But Cubs supporters know Hendricks deserved the nod.

Hendricks has spent his entire MLB career with the Cubs and has a career 3.14 ERA in six seasons. He finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2016 and was arguably robbed after going 16-8 with a league-best 2.13 ERA. Getting the nod as the Opening Day starter once again puts Hendricks in the Cy Young conversation if he is the presumed ace of the staff.

Kyle Hendricks’ Cy Young chances

2020 is going to be a weird year for awards. Voters will be going off about 12 starts. That should throw a pitcher’s win/loss record out the window, which should already be the case when voting for Cy Young.

ERA and strikeouts will stand out more, and Hendricks is a pitcher with a lifetime 3.14 ERA and a 7.6 K/9. He posted a 4.0 WAR in 2019, and for comparison, his WAR was at 5.4 back in 2016. His WHIP was also below 1.0 that year, which is another number to focus on in such a short year. In fact, pitchers like Hendricks could put up record numbers with such a short workload.

Being seen as the ace of the staff will also help Hendricks in terms of visibility. That shouldn’t be a major factor, but it sure seems like it is based on some past snubs around the league. That is true with many awards across professional sports.

Can Hendricks win the Cy Young in 2020? There is no reason why he would be a surprise winner if the numbers were there. The main thing standing in his way is a man named Jacob deGrom, who has taken the award home in two straight seasons.

deGrom is a perfect example of a pitcher who dominates without a flashy win/loss record. He posted an insane 1.70 ERA in 2018 and followed up with a mark of 2.43 last season. He also had at least 255 strikeouts in both seasons, while Hendricks’ career high is 170. deGrom is not the only top competitor for Hendricks, but keeping on his current pace keeps him as the favorite yet again.

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Hendricks will need to get his ERA below 3.00 and getting over the 100-strikeout mark would help his case as well. That is true for anyone competing for the award in the shortened season. Right now, Hendricks is not the favorite to take home his first Cy Young. However, he is the top pitcher on a contending team and he is surely a favorite in terms of preseason predictions.

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