If you had to guess which pitchers are limiting hard-hit contact best this season, it probably wouldn’t surprise you that Noah Syndergaard ranks first and Clayton Kershaw ranks third. But you’d probably need a lot of guesses before figuring out that Chicago Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks ranks second.
Hendricks dominated for the second straight start, and he allowed only one hard-hit ball (one more than he allowed in his previous start against the Phillies).
The key to Hendricks’ limiting hard contact on Thursday? There were two.
1. His changeup kept Dodgers hitters off-balance, as he netted seven outs without allowing a hit. Hendricks has thrown 183 changeups this season and allowed one hard-hit ball. His changeup has the lowest hard-hit rate (1.4 percent) of that of any starter in the majors.
2. His cutter has been a nasty (and highly efficient) finish pitch. He threw nine cutters on Thursday and got seven outs with the pitch, without yielding a hit. Opponents are hitting .103 in at-bats ending with a Hendricks cutter in 2016, fifth-lowest in the majors.