Cubs

Maddon likes what he sees from Hendricks despite results

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Maddon likes what he sees from Hendricks despite results

If you just look at the stats, Kyle Hendricks is having a rough season.

The 25-year-old righty is 0-1 with a 5.15 ERA, but that doesn't tell the whole story. 

Hendricks has pitched into some bad luck (as a 3.91 FIP would indicate) and is just a couple pitches away from having a much better record and stat line. (Of course, the same can be said for dozens of pitchers around the league.)

The Cubs want more from the back end of their rotation and with Hendricks' inexperience, it wouldn't be shocking to see the team send him down to Triple-A if his struggles continue to work out the kinks a bit. Japanese lefty Tsuyoshi Wada is due to conclude his minor-league rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Iowa.

[MORE: Cubs' Joe Maddon: The world revolves around confidence]

Still, Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes what he sees from Hendricks, who was on a roll Friday before the wheels came off in the sixth inning against the Pirates. 

Hendricks had given up only one run before a couple of basehits fell just out reach of Cubs fielders and then Pittsburgh's No. 8 hitter (Francisco Cervelli) connected on a two-out, three-run double off the right field wall.

"He looked good," Maddon said. "I thought he was going seven. I really thought he had a solid chance. It was like low-to-mid-90s [pitch count] when it all broke loose a little bit. If he gets out of there with 90-95 pitches — which was definitely a possibility — he's going 110 yesterday and seven [innings] and he's feeling really good about himself."

Hendricks tallied seven strikeouts in his 5.2 innings of work, but he boasts just a 5.9 K/9 ratio in 117 big-league innings. All that contact means more of a chance for hitters to find some grass.

[RELATED: As bullpen settles in, Cubs feeling comfortable in one-run games]

"You look at Kyle's numbers; they can be very deceptive," Maddon said. "Part of it is, he's not necessarily a punch-out guy, so the ball's gonna be put in play and sometimes you're unlucky when the ball is put in play. The punch-out guy can avoid that moment."

After a ton of minor-league success (2.69 ERA in four seasons), Hendricks got out to a roaring start with the Cubs after his big-league debut in 2014. 

He made 13 starts for the big-league club down the stretch, going 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, finishing seventh in National League Rookie of the Year voting.

Hendricks doesn't have the stuff or pedigree of a young pitcher like Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole (whom the Cubs faced Saturday), but Hendricks can still provide value as a fourth or fifth starter on the North Side.

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Things didn't work out for Hendricks Friday, but Maddon is trying to put the second-year pitcher in a position to succeed down the line.

"With Kyle, you're trying to build his confidence regarding letting him stay in to get this particular job done," Maddon said. "You have this opportunity now to go seven, but you gotta get through this mess. It didn't play [Friday].

"I was showing him that I had confidence that he could get through that moment. That matters, too, even though it didn't happen."

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: