Kendricks was an economics major at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Before he was taken by the Rangers in 2011 and before he went to Dartmouth, Hendricks was originally drafted by the Angels out of high school in the 39th round in 2008. Hendricks' father, John, had worked in their ticket office. But Kyle went for the Ivy League education. "I told the Angels, 'Thanks, but it's going to be hard to pass up this opportunity,'" Hendricks told ESPN.com. "I figured college was the best place for me to be."
- Dartmouth has produced a number of Major Leaguers, including pitchers Pete Broberg and Mike Remlinger. But going from Southern California to New Hampshire isn't exactly the most direct route to baseball success.
"My goal has always been to pitch in the Majors, so it was a tough decision to go to Dartmouth," said Hendricks, a graduate of Capistrano Valley High in Orange County. "But I couldn't pass up the chance for an Ivy League education."
Drafted after his junior season, Hendricks still needs to complete a few courses for his degree in economics, with a minor in math.
In 2013, Hendricks were named the Cubs organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
In 2014, Baseball America rated Kyle as the 11th-best prospect in the Cubs organization.
Hendricks already made sure to take advantage of the opportunity to earn his degree, going back to school over two winters to finish after signing with the Rangers back in 2011.
The 2014-15 offseason was the first time Kyle didn't have to open a textbook, having completed his finance degree at Dartmouth. So his offseason featured golf, visits with family and friends, plus baseball workouts.
"The kid is a gentleman in every aspect until he takes the mound, and then there's every attribute that you would want in a kid from a competitive aspect in a Division I level and at the professional level," Dartmouth coach Bob Whalen said.
While Hendricks credited Whalen with helping him learn when he needs to step off the mound and not work so quickly, Whalen said he arrived at the New Hampshire school with that mound presence.
"He is one of the few kids that can translate that from the way you see him when you meet him to the way he performs athletically," Whalen said. "He's always been able to regulate his thought process and his tempo and he just never allowed the game to speed up on him." (Jay Cohen - AP Sports Writer - 2/05/15)
Off the field, Kyle likes to hang out with his family and "lay low." He also plays a little golf.
Hendricks favorite pitcher when growing up was Pedro Martinez.
Favorite Movie: Step Brothers
Actor: Will Farrell
Food: Cajun. "My mom's red beans and rice; my mom is from New Orleans," Kyle said.
Music: Reggae and Country.
If I wasn't a baseball pitcher, I'd be: "I would definitely have tried to be a professional golfer. My dad's a golf pro."
2018 Spring Training: Hendricks wanted to make sure Special Olympics athlete Ella Stoklosa had a great time at a Spring Training game, even if it meant that he wasn't her favorite Cubs player for the entire time.
Hendricks, who is a special ambassador to Special Olympics Illinois, and believed to be the first Major League Baseball player in that role, hosted Stoklosa, 27, of Wheeling, Ill., on March 3. She has Down syndrome, but that doesn't stop her. Stoklosa competes in nine sports and showed up at the Cubs' complex wearing a Hendricks' jersey.
"She warned me," Hendricks said. "[She said] 'I'm going to wear your jersey -- but can I see [Kris Bryant]? I have his jersey, too.' I said, 'I can get anything you need.' "As soon as [Bryant] walks around the corner, she's got my jersey off and his is on," Hendricks said, laughing. "I didn't even see her change -- it took her two seconds. It was so funny."
Hendricks has taken on the Special Olympics as his cause, and has done so quietly, as is his style. "For some reason, there's never been a spokesperson for Special Olympics from Major League Baseball," said Hendricks. His yoga instructor, Christine Schwan, introduced him to some people in Special Olympics Illinois, and they did a yoga session with some of the athletes.
"Once I did that, it was over," Hendricks said of the commitment to the organization. "You have so much fun with these athletes and they bring us so much joy. Plus, there's the ability for my wife, Emma, to be involved in it -- it kind of just fell into our laps. We're always looking to give back and do something. We have some things in our family, [people with] different diseases, but we were open to anything and it didn't have to be something that affected our family." (Carrie Muskat- MLB.com -Mar. 10, 2018)
2018 season: Kyle Hendricks may not show emotion on the mound, but smiles come easily when he's not between the foul lines. Especially when he's talking about his walk-up song. The always-self-aware Hendricks understands the running joke about his expressionless demeanor and comes out to Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" when pitching or hitting at Wrigley Field. He'll use the same song again in 2018.
"No reason to change it now," he said, smirking. "Gotta give the people what they want." (Tony Andracki -NBC Sports -April 09, 2018)
March 26. 2019: The Cubs needed to know more about Kyle Hendricks, because the fastball velocity and physical attributes did not paint the picture of a high-end prospect. They had their scouts look into his background, talking to former coaches and teammates about his personality, work ethic and character.
"They all said he will get the absolute most out of his ability," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "Someone who will set a great example. Someone you want to bet on. And here we are."
Seven years after acquiring Hendricks as a Minor Leaguer from the Rangers, Epstein sat to the pitcher's right in an interview room at the Cubs' Spring Training complex. On the final day of Spring Training, Epstein announced that Chicago had signed Hendricks to a four-year contract extension, one that includes a club option that could keep the righty on the North Side through the 2024 campaign.
The kid with the economics degree from Dartmouth grew into the Game 7 starter in the 2016 World Series for the Cubs. He evolved into one of the game's best strike-throwers, using precision to overcome his lack of power. In his five seasons in the Majors, Hendricks has exceeded all the expectations that came with him when he packed his bags as a Rangers farmhand.
"I want to exceed what they've given me and provide even more to the Cubs and this organization," Hendricks said. "The work will never end. I just want to be the best pitcher I can always be, and at the end of the day, when my career is said and done, to have no regrets. The hard work continues. And really, nothing changes for me."
Prior to the spring finale against the Red Sox, Epstein announced the extension to the rest of the players in a morning meeting. Within that room, there are a handful of other key core pieces (Javier Baez and Kris Bryant atop the list) who are in the middle of the extension-talk phase of their stardom and service time.
Hendricks said he hopes his pact will lead to other deals around the room. "Hopefully this starts a trend where this group can stay together," said Hendricks.
Epstein danced around questions on that topic.
"I'm glad Kyle said that, because it's inappropriate for me to," Epstein said with a smile. "Look, I think you guys know how much we believe in this group. We have some special people in there. We'd love to keep it intact as long as we can. Hopefully this builds some momentum in that direction. We'll continue to quietly try to get things done."
Epstein noted that the Cubs had been in talks with Hendricks for more than a year, even admitting that negotiations seemed dead in the water at multiple turns. The two sides picked things up again this spring, and things picked up steam in the past few days. Hendricks said the offer he finally agreed to sign achieved a middle ground and he felt compelled to take the deal. Hendricks underwent a physical on Monday as the final step in the process.
"It got to that point, where I knew 100 percent they were sticking their neck out for me," Hendricks said. "They wanted me to be here. And I felt like I needed to reciprocate that and accept, because I love it so much. I want to be a Cub."
Dating back to the 2015 season, the 29-year-old Hendricks ranks 14th in ERA (3.14) and 21st in WAR (15.0 per Fangraphs) among qualified pitchers. The right-hander won an ERA title in 2016 (2.13). His 3.07 career ERA ranks fifth among active pitchers with at least 100 career starts, trailing only Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom, Chris Sale and Madison Bumgarner.
Not bad for an unheralded Minor Leaguer included in the Ryan Dempster trade with Texas.
"He has far exceeded that ceiling that was put on him, even by [us]," Epstein said. "Look, if you look at the numbers since he's been up here, he's one of the most effective half-dozen starting pitchers in the game since he's come up. The names on that list are guys on Hall of Fame trajectories, so Kyle's in rare air for what he's done. "But, more importantly, we love the process that he uses to get there and we think it bodes well for the future."( J Bastian - MLB.com - March 26, 2019)
June 2011: The Rangers chose Kyle in the 8th round, out of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
July 31, 2012: The Cubs sent RHP Ryan Dempster to the Rangers, acquiring Hendricks and 3B Christian Villanueva.
March 4, 2016: The Cubs and Hendricks agreed to a one-year deal for $541,000. (Editor's note: What a bargain -- he led the NL in ERA in 2016.)
Jan 12, 2018: Kyle and the Cubs avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $4.2 million.
Jan 11, 2019: Russell and the Cubs avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $7.405 million.
- March 26, 2019: Chicago signed Kyle to a four-year contract extension, one that includes a club option that could keep him through the 2024 campaign. The deal is worth $55.5 million guaranteed from 2020-23, during which Hendricks will earn $12 million in '20 and $14 million annually from '21-23. The '24 season can be picked up by the Cubs for $16 million or the option can vest with a top-three National League Cy Young Award finish in '20. Otherwise, Chicago has a $1.5 million buyout for that season.
|DOB:||12/7/1989||Agent:||Wasserman Media Group|
|Birth City:||San Juan Capistrano, CA|
|Draft:||Rangers #8 - 2011 - Out of Dartmouth College (NH)|
Hendricks has an 87-90 mph two-seam SINKER; an 88-93 mph four-seam FASTBALL; a decent 77-80 mph CURVEBALL; an 86-89 mph CUTTER; and a plus 79-82 mph CHANGEUP (60 on the 20-80 scouting scale), which is his best pitch. He will throw the change in any count. (May 2016)
Kyle doesn't light up the radar gun, but he makes up in finesse what he lacks in power. He is a command-oriented starting pitcher. He reads a hitters swing and disrupts his timing.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 21.7% of the time; Sinker 43.2% of the time; Change 27.1%; and Curve 8% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 22% of the time; Sinker 43% of the time; Change 26.9%; Curve 8.2%.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 17.4% of the time, his Sinker 44.3%; Change 30.8%; and Curve 7.5% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 87.8 mph, Sinker 87.1, Changeup 79.1, and Curve 72.3 mph.
Kyle outsmarts hitters. And he has good stuff. He's not a thrower, he's a pitcher, with the key being that he puts the ball where he wants to. He doesn't beat himself when he's on the mound.
"You watch him pitch and you can never tell what he's throwing," Rangers minor league manager Tim Hulett said. "His pitching tempo is always the same, whether its a fastball or a changeup. He's just got a good idea out there with great composure and great presence on the mound."
April 2015: Hendricks is known for his very good command and pitching smarts. He gets a 70 for his control on the 20-80 scouting scale. His well-thought-out approach to pitching is what you'd expect from an Ivy Leaguer.
He limits damage because he rarely misses over the middle of the plate, instead keeping the ball down and on the corners, and at the top and bottom of the zone. He sticks to the scouting report and relies on command and deception to exploit hitters' weaknesses.
"He's an intelligent guy,” one evaluator said before 2015 spring training. “He needs to be a little bit finer because he doesn’t throw hard. He’s always been invested in the game, and he has the feel and intelligence to pitch.”
In November 2013, Baseball America's John Manuel had this to say about Kendricks: "I don’t have a scouting report with a plus grade on it. He has very good control and decent command of a four-pitch mix, but it’s not premium command. He’s a strike-thrower without a plus pitch. He had about as good a year as any minor league pitcher had in 2013. It’s just hard to see Hendricks being more than a fifth starter."
2014: "Kyle is intelligent, and I think he has a real good feel for himself, and he understands what he has to do to be successful and his routine and his plans are all very, very good," said Derek Johnson, the Cubs' Minor League pitching coordinator. "He knows he has to stay poised with his stuff. I think he's more rattled now, and you'd never know it. That's the unique part of it. He's in big league camp, a little bit nervous, and you'd never know."
"He's a guy who, over his career and as we've seen, he's a pitcher," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He can really dominate the zone. He tries to work both sides of the plate. When we saw him in an intrasquad game, he was doing exactly what he does—he stays down in the zone, hits both sides of the plate, mixes his pitches well. That's the same thing he'll have to do at the Major League level. Is it possible for him to do that? Absolutely."
Johnson feels the same way. "I think he understands what he has to do to get hitters out," Johnson said. "He pays attention to what they're trying to do against him. He understands situations."
- Kyle induces weak contact. A really good comparison: Greg Maddux.
2014 Season: Hendricks' accuracy, combined with his meticulous pregame preparation and countless hours of video work, took him to another level once he reached the Majors in July. In 13 big league starts, Kyle put up a 7-2 record with a 2.46 ERA, went 5.1 innings in 12 of 13 starts, and gave up more than two runs in just 3 of those efforts.
Kyle's finest work of his rookie season came during a six-game stretch from July 22-August 18, in which he surrendered no more than one run in any game and twice recorded no earned runs.
Taylor Teagarden had never caught Kyle before a 2015 Spring Training game. Apparently, Teagarden adjusts well, because Hendricks threw five perfect innings that day against the Athletics.
"I understood what he does well," Teagarden said of Hendricks, who is projected as the Cubs' fourth starter. "He can manipulate the fastball, commands it real well, keeps the ball out of the heart of the plate, changes speeds and works relatively fast. He did all those things fairly consistently and induced a lot of weak contact. I think we were on the same page."
Hendricks is far from an intimidating presence on the mound. Near the end of the 2016 season, Kyle's fastball average was just 87.6 mph, which was 71st out of 78 qualified pitchers—and two of the guys behind him are knuckleballers. Kyle looks every bit the Dartmouth economics major he actually is.
Unlike most pitchers, Hendricks likes to throw off the mound twice between starts, and he's been doing a lot more long toss, a preferred workout of his, all season.
"I basically throw two shorter bullpens," Kyle said, "I've noticed it just helps me touching the mound more and getting some reps. I think because I'm that command-type guy. It just helps me stay sharper, and I don't really fatigue too much from it."
Kyle has become a true pitcher, someone who methodically studies game plans and breaks down hitters' tendencies. He knows what works for him, and understands how to exploit an opposing offense's weaknesses.
Hendricks has the pitch mix and command to hit every quadrant of the zone. In other words, if you have a weakness, he can attack it.
That is the art of pitching. Pitching is not just throwing as hard as you can. Pitching is just having the art to actually change the speeds, change eye levels, move the batter and things like that. (Gary Cohen - Vine Line - October, 2016)
In 2016, Hendricks led the Major Leagues with a 2.13 ERA.
In 2016, Hendricks was selected as the NL's most Outstanding Pitcher for the Players Choice Award.
April 19. 2019: Hendricks had not thrown a wild pitch in three years. Alas, even the most fitting feats must end, and Hendricks' aversion to wild pitches -- a streak that lasted for 6,662 pitches -- finally came to an end in the second inning of the Cubs' 5-1 win over the D-backs at Wrigley Field.
May 3, 2019: Moments after Kyle Hendricks put on a clinic of precision and efficiency against the Cardinals out on the Wrigley Field mound, there were a pair of former Cubs pitchers lingering in a doorway to Chicago's locker room. That the men in question were Jon Lieber and Carlos Zambrano was serendipitous.
During a 4-0 victory, Hendricks cruised through the Cardinals lineup with just 81 pitches over nine brilliant innings. It marked the first time a Cubs pitcher threw a Maddux (fewer than 100 pitches in a complete-game shutout) since Zambrano achieved the feat in 2009, and only Lieber had fewer pitches (78 against the Reds on May 24, 2001) in a shutout in recorded Cubs history.
"I remember it all," Lieber said with a smile.
Their brief visit to the Cubs' clubhouse was pure chance. Hendricks' performance was not.
Hendricks' showing against the National League Central-leading Cardinals was calculated and the result of a plan executed to perfection after he and catcher Willson Contreras identified St. Louis' approach. The right-hander relies on strike-zone command, and St. Louis tried to capitalize by being aggressive in early-count situations. It was up to Hendricks to find a way to use that to his advantage.
Hendricks went to his fastballs 22 times on the first pitch and then featured heaters (four-seam or sinkers) 11 times in 15 situations with 0-1 counts. If he slipped behind 1-0, he focused more on his changeup (four of seven). The result was 17 balls in play within the first two pitches of at-bats. St. Louis had four singles scattered in that cluster of quick outcomes, but Hendricks never had a runner advance beyond second.
"Really masterful job," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "Tip your hat. Did a nice job, he really did. That was pitching, the art of pitching. Controlling counts. Changing speeds. In and out of the zone. Had our guys off-balance. Did a really nice job against a really good lineup."
When it was all said and done, Hendricks had no walks, three strikeouts and received all the support he required when Anthony Rizzo launched a three-run homer in the third off Jack Flaherty. Hendricks averaged 2.7 pitches per plate appearance and registered 10 or fewer pitches in eight of his nine innings.
"I didn't know the exact number, but I knew it was low," Hendricks said of his pitch count. "Also, Willy and I did a really good job of recognizing how aggressive they were early, even to start the game. So, once we made good pitches within the first two of the at-bat, they kind of kept being aggressive and we just were able to take advantage."
Hendricks laughed when asked if he was available to pitch on Saturday.
"For sure," he said. (J Bastian - MLB.com - May 3, 2019)
- As of the start of the 2019 season, Kyle has a career record of 52-33 with 3.07 ERA, having allowed 75 home runs and 690 hits in 789 innings.
- June 5-24, 2017: Kyle was on the DL with right hand tendinitis.