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Class is in session with Kyle Hendricks taking the mound

Thursday evening, the Chicago Cubs earned a four-game split with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, it comes down to the final weekend of the regular season and the division title is on the line.

Who knew things would be this intense this late? Thankfully, our Chicago Cubs hold a one-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee clinched their first postseason berth since 2011.

Last night, southpaw Jon Lester turned in a fantastic performance while his former teammate John Lackey was  in attendance. Lackey has not pitched during the 2018 campaign and is thought to have unofficially retired from the league.

Now that they have themselves a little bit of breathing room entering today’s series opener with the Cardinals, all eyes will be on right-hander Kyle Hendricks.

Hendricks, 28, is used to pitching when something important is on the line. Since making his debut, Kyle has proved to be an ace-in-the-making for this Chicago Cubs starting rotation.

He has had some solid teachers along the way in Lester, Lackey, Jake Arrieta, Chris Bosio, and even David Ross along the way.

It also helps having a manager such as Joe Maddon to help mold him into the star he was meant to be. I mean, Maddon has groomed countless pitchers over the course of his career.

Take, for example, current Pittsburgh Pirates starter and former Tampa Bay Rays sensation, Chris Archer. Who was once a prospect in Chicago’s farm system until he was traded to Tampa for Matt Garza several years ago.

Class in session

Despite winning two more games than he has lost, Kyle Hendricks has had himself an alright season on the mound. In 2016, Hendricks pitched 190 innings, setting a career-high in that category.

At the time, most of us thought he was on his way to earning a Cy Young nod at the end of the campaign. We were wrong. Entering today, he’s at 191 innings of work with an ERA of 3.49 and a K/BB ratio of 159/42.

He is 11 strikeouts from his career high of 170 which was set in 2016 as well. Now, Kyle has pitched well over his previous seven starts dating back to Aug. 21 while the Cubs were in Detroit.

Over the course of these seven games, Hendricks carries a 4-2 record, allowing eight earned runs in 46 1/3 frames. Anything below 10 is considered good during a seven-start stretch.

Workhorse

In Arizona on Sept. 17, Maddon allowed Hendricks to return to the mound in the ninth. That day, he held Arizona to one earned run on three hits. Unfortnuately, there would be no fourth complete game added to his resume as he was pulled ahead of the final out.

Either way, his club picked up the win but he has the opportunity to duplicate his previous outing against the White Sox at home. It’ll be the third time this year in which Hendricks makes six starts in a single month and it’s an important series.

The Professor will be pitted up against veteran Adam Wainwright with the first pitch scheduled for 1:20 p.m. central. Meanwhile, Milwaukee will welcome in the Detroit Tigers at Miller Park.

Next: Cubs bullpen running on fumes

So, with Chicago’s magic number down to three, they’ll need to win at least two of three from St. Louis. I don’t know about you guys but I’m going to be on the edge of my seat the entire weekend.

Let’s keep it going and hope for another division title, boys!

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