SAN DIEGO — Right-hander Kyle Hendricks was one of the Chicago Cubs more dependable pitchers in 2017.
He was 7-5 with a team-leading 3.03 ERA in 24 starts. And he finished the season even stronger, posting a 2.62 ERA in his final 21 starts – which was the fourth-best mark among all National League with at least 10 starts after May 1.
He hasn’t been up to those 2017 standards this season — until his most recent start last Monday night in San Francisco when he allowed just one unearned run on five hits over 8 1/3 innings.
The Cubs are hoping that last start triggers the type of run that Hendricks rode to the finish of the 2017 campaign. And those hopes will be bolstered Saturday night as Hendricks faces a Padres team against which he has had excellent results in the past.
Hendricks (5-8, 3.93 ERA) will be paired against Padres right-hander Luis Perdomo (1-3, 7.09 ERA) in the penultimate game of the first half.
The two teams meet as the nonwaiver trade deadline approaches. One of the most rumored moves involves Padres All-Star reliever Brad Hand, who’s been stellar the past two seasons.
“Brad’s been unbelievable for us since we acquired him,” Padres manager Andy Green told the San Diego Union Tribune. “To be a two-time All-Star says last year wasn’t an aberration. It says last year is who I am. This year is who I am. I’m an All-Star pitcher. I think the game views him that way. He’s earned that.”
The Cubs could go into the All-Star break at least having a share of the National League Central lead for the first time since June 20. They moved into a tie for the division lead Friday night, rallying twice late in the game to defeat the Padres 4-3 in 10 innings while the Milwaukee Brewers were losing to Pittsburgh.
Ace left-hander Jon Lester (11-2, 2.45 ERA) will get the start in Sunday’s first-half finale.
Even with last Monday’s excellent outing against the Giants, Hendricks has struggled over the past month, going 1-2 with a 5.20 ERA. He has given up 17 runs (16 earned) on 30 hits and 12 walks with 19 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings.
But the 6-foot-3, 28-year-old Hendricks goes into his 19th start of the season with a 3-1 lifetime record against the Padres with a 2.50 ERA in six starts. He has averaged almost seven innings a start against the Padres. And in those starts, he has surrendered 12 runs (11 earned) on 29 hits and six walks with 41 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings – for a 0.882 WHIP and a .204 opponents’ batting average.
He is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Padres at Petco Park, where he has 20 strikeouts in 20 innings – although his only career loss against the Padres came on May 29, 2017, when he gave up five runs on six hits in five innings.
Five of Hendricks’ six starts against the Padres have been quality outings, including a complete-game shutout at Petco Park on May 21, 2015.
Meanwhile, this will be Perdomo’s third start since he returned from Triple-A El Paso on July 4. He is 0-1 in his first two outings back, allowing eight runs on 14 hits and seven walks with three strikeouts over 12 2/3 innings.
Perdomo will be facing the Cubs for only the third time. He is 0-0 in two previous appearances (one start) with a 1.80 ERA, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over 10 innings.