Tale of the Tape: Hendricks, Samardzija set to duel
2016 ERA champ faces former Cubs starter in Game 2
By Justin Wise
The 2016 season has served as a transformation for Kyle Hendricks and Jeff Samardzija. Hendricks began the year at the back end of the Cubs' rotation and finished it with the ERA title. Samardzija recorded a 6.83 ERA in June, but allowed more than three earned runs just once in his last 10 outings.
The two will oppose each other Saturday when the Cubs host the Giants in Game 2 of the National League Division Series (8 p.m. ET, MLB Network).
Hendricks against the Giants
Career: 1-2 (3 GS) 4.32 ERA
2016: 0-1 (1 GS) 1.69 ERA
Loves to face: Angel Pagan, 0-for-5, 2 strikeouts
Hates to face: Brandon Belt, 3-for-7, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
Why he'll win: Hendricks has evolved from a fifth starter into a Cy Young candidate. The right-hander recorded the lowest ERA in the Majors and allowed more than three runs just once in his last 15 starts. It's the reason why the 26-year-old will take the mound in the postseason before veterans Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. And given the numbers, it's hard to argue with that decision.
Pitcher beware: Hendricks posted a career-best 0.98 WHIP this season. But walks have caused him trouble multiple times this year, including in his lone start against the Giants on May 22. The right-hander surrendered three free passes and exited after just 5 1/3 innings in San Francisco.
Bottom line: It's already difficult for opposing teams to score off Hendricks. But when the right-hander is pitching at Wrigley Field, it seems nearly impossible. Hendricks is 9-2 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 games at home this year.
Samardzija against the Cubs
Career: 0-1 (2 GS) 8.10 ERA
2016: 0-0 (1 GS) 6.75 ERA
Loves to face: Addison Russell, 0-for-5, 1 strikeout
Hates to face: Kris Bryant, 3-for-6, 1 double
Why he'll win: The former Cub regained command of his off-speed pitches after the All-Star break and experienced a lot more consistency because of it. Samardzija lasted at least six innings in 10 of his last 12 outings and hasn't allowed more than two runs in a start since Sept. 12.
Pitcher beware: The Cubs' lineup caused Samardzija fits during his last outing at Wrigley Field on Sept. 1. The right-hander tossed 47 pitches in the first inning and surrendered three earned runs in four innings.
Bottom line: Samardzija averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his last six starts and has yielded just three runs in his last 19 2 /3 innings. As Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after his final start of the regular season, Samardzija is pitching as well as anyone entering the postseason.
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.