Watch a Kyle Hendricks start -- you'll get the chance Thursday -- and you may not get it. You may not understand how he has an ERA under three without getting really lucky. You may not see it when you see his pitches, and you're not to blame.
He doesn't break the radar gun. He doesn't have any one pitch that wows with drop or fade. He doesn't strike out the lineup or burn worms with the best of them. But the Chicago Cubs righty does a ton with what he has. And this year, he has added a wrinkle that has him making the very most out of his stuff.
It's not his stuff
Among the top 60 pitchers in strikeout rate this year, only six have a lower swinging strike rate than Hendricks. That doesn't even do this factoid justice, though, because Hendricks doesn't even get on that leaderboard the same way as the other guys.
Three of those are sinkerballers who throw bowling balls -- Rick Porcello, Tanner Roark and Aaron Sanchez. Two are in transition, probably -- Jimmy Nelson and Carlos Rodon have good velocity, plus sliders, and underlying numbers that suggest they "should" have ERAs around four. Rodon has recently added more velocity and may work himself off this list quickly.
There's one name that matches up fairly well with Hendricks: Jose Quintana. They both make the most of their stuff with plus command. Here's the thing: Quintana is averaging 92.2 mph on his fastball. Hendricks: 87.2, according to FanGraphs.