The Cubs 2018 starting rotation ahas played like an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Cubs fans and pundits alike have been on the edge of their seats all season, waiting, suspension building, looking for the big twist we all know is coming.
That moment may actually be occurring right now, allowing everybody to sit back, sigh and say, "THERE it is."
With a stellar start from Kyle Hendricks Sunday — one of his best of the season, he admitted — the Cubs rotation has posted a 1.67 ERA and has not allowed a single homer over the last 10 games.
#Cubs starting pitchers: 1.67 ERA, 0 HR allowed over last 10 games— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 26, 2018
"I think we're all there," Hendricks said. "We're all getting there. We've been on a really good run the last week or two. Just been throwing the ball real well as a staff and the bullpen's still keeping up their end.
"It's nice to feel that roll one start after another — guys going out and performing and making pitches."
That sound you heard just now was every Cubs fan standing up and shouting, "Preach!"
Cubs starters have been flashing signs in the past, going on a nice run for a few games or so. But this is the most extended run of success this season for the unit and it's no coincidence the Cubs are suddenly riding a five-game winning streak and looking like they've got their mojo back.
Remember, this was what many experts around the game thought was in the conversation as the best rotation in the National League in spring training.
Hendricks tossed 7 shutout innings in Sunday's 9-0 victory over the Reds. He permitted just a pair of singles and a walk, lowering his ERA to 3.86, his best mark since June 21.
Hendricks has been happy with where he's at mechanically and stuff-wise for a few starts in a row now, but still had trouble getting the results to match.
"My mechanics feel good now," he said. "The ball's doing what I want it to now."
Sunday was his fourth straight start of at least 6 solid innings pitched and he could've gone even longer if the game wasn't a blowout and the heat index at Wrigley Field wasn't 101 degrees with insane humidity.
"The difference for me is the deception in the changeup is back," Joe Maddon said. "The arm speed on the changeup is there. It's not just a take pitch anymore. They're not reading it like they had earlier in the season, so that's a big part of his success."
Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett can attest to that. He was so far in front of a Hendricks changeup in the seventh inning, he fell to a knee during his swing and could do nothing but laugh in reaction:
Kyle "Hendo" Hendricks, winner by KO (78mph Changeup) over Ryan "Scooter" Gennett. 🥊 pic.twitter.com/oOgcX4ZOxK— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 26, 2018
Hendricks agrees that his changeup is a much bigger weapon right now, pointing to improved fastball command that now allows the off-speed to play better.
With what Cole Hamels has done this month and adjustments Jon Lester has made to climb out of a tough stretch, it's huge for the Cubs to see Hendricks go out there and dominate.
Now Mike Montgomery's return is around the corner, as well. He should be in line to come off the disabled list Thursday and throw in Atlanta.
Alec Mills is getting at least one more turn through the rotation Wednesday following a dominant performance against the Reds over the weekend.
That permits the Cubs to roll with a six-man rotation for the time being, allowing every starter an extra day of rest for the stretch run of the pennant race.
The Cubs are in the midst of a long stretch of games — their next off-day isn't until Sept. 13 — and if they're gonna go on a nice run and try to create some distance in the NL Central, the rotation will be the determining factor.
"We love staying on that five-day routine, especially now that we're rolling and feeling good," Hendricks said. "That's what starters love. Six days is fine, even, but five is ideal. Stay on our side routine.
"We feel strong this time of the year, coming into September. Which is good for everybody. Hopefully we can just keep going deep into ballgames and giving us a chance to win."