Kyle Hendricks Winning the ERA Title Despite a Sub-90 Average Fastball Velocity

Kyle Hendricks

In only his third year as a starting pitcher, Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs in on pace to end up leading MLB in ERA. If it does happen, he’ll be the first pitcher since data started being kept on pitch type 14 years ago to finish with the lowest ERA while averaging fastball velocity that’s under 90 mph.

Hendricks, 26, relies on positioning his pitches instead of speed and power. He’s 13-7 this season in 26 starts, with a 2.09 ERA. The closest pitcher to him is Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants with 2.49. Like the rest of the Cubs, Hendricks has been tremendous in August, starting in six games, pitching 42.1 innings, posting a 1.28 ERA, allowing an only .179 batting average and 5.38 OPS. His strikeout to walk ratio, usually not mind blowing at 3.56 (actually a little bit worse than last season), was at a whopping 9.00, with only 7 walks through the six starts, in which the Cubs all won, and Hendricks earned four wins.

From the below, made by CornerSolution on reddit, we can learn a few things:

  1. No AL pitcher has led MLB in ERA since Felix Hernandez in 2010. This season, Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox has the best ERA in the majors with 2.77, which would place him fourth in the NL
  2. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the last five ERA winners, four times being Clayton Kershaw (2011-2014) and last season it was Zack Greinke, now playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greinke’s 4.17 ERA this season is actually the best among Diamondbacks starts. Kenta Maeda with 3.38 is the best on the Dodgers
  3. Hernandez with a velocity of 94.1 mph in 2010 has the highest fastball speed among the ERA kings in the last 15 seasons. The lowest is Pedro Martinez (2002 and 2003), the only one besides Hendricks (if he ends up finishing on top of the ERA charts) who averaged less than 91 mph while leading baseball in ERA

Fastball Velocity Chart

One interesting thing is Kershaw would have the best ERA this season (1.79) if he’d qualify. He appeared in 16 games and 121 innings before getting shut down. The Dodgers might bring him back before the end of September, but for now, the title seems to be going Hendricks’ way.

Image: Source