Hendricks recovered, ready to start Game 2

ERA leader set for 2nd start of postseason after liner ended NLDS start in 4th

October 16th, 2016

CHICAGO -- took the mound in the National League Division Series eager to introduce himself to a national audience perhaps still unfamiliar with the Dartmouth graduate who had just become the first Cubs pitcher in 78 years to capture baseball's ERA title. 's line drive off Hendricks' right arm cut that showcase short.

But if there were any early concerns about Hendricks' availability for the rest of October, they had dissolved by the time the Cubs finished off the Giants. Hendricks cleared all medical tests, threw a pair of side sessions and is ready to return as the Cubs' Game 2 starter on Sunday, this time in Chicago's NL Championship Series matchup against the Dodgers (8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on FS1). The Cubs took a 1-0 series lead with a thrilling 8-4 win on Saturday night.

:: NLCS: Dodgers vs. Cubs coverage ::

"Anytime something happens to your arm -- your throwing arm -- it's not ideal," Hendricks said before the Cubs opened the series on Saturday. "Once [the] X-rays were negative, I felt a lot better about it. I knew it was going to be a bad bruise type of thing ... and it wouldn't be a problem."

His quick recovery allowed manager Joe Maddon to order his series rotation just as he did the previous one. That puts Hendricks after , but most importantly, it lines him up to pitch at home.

NLCS Game 2: Tonight at 7 CT on FS1

Highlighting Hendricks' best professional season was his 1.32 ERA at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 11 of his 16 starts there (including one in the NLDS), and Hendricks limited opponents to four home runs over his 99 innings pitched at home.

"Fall back on your routine, fall back on what you know to do and the confidence that you built throughout the whole year," Hendricks said. "I'm going to go out there [with the] same simple thoughts, trying to make good pitches, and hopefully my confidence can show through."

Maddon believes that it's that confidence, perhaps even more than the notable uptick in his four-seam fastball usage, that served as a springboard for Hendricks' breakout season.

"He's definitely worked at his craft," Maddon said. "His work is impeccable. So it was just a matter of his confidence catching up with his abilities."

Though it may be tough for Hendricks to glean much about the Dodgers' offense by watching their approach against the lefty Lester in Game 1, he does have his own experience to revisit. Hendricks last faced the Dodgers on June 2, when he held them to two runs on three hits over eight innings. Hendricks walked one and struck out six in that win.

He still seeks his first postseason start of at least five innings in length, a benchmark he hit in every one of his 30 regular-season starts. And that's how he'll treat this next one.

"Once you show up to the ballpark, you get into your routine, you get to doing your thing," Hendricks said. "You really feel the same as any other day, as any other game. I'm just going to try and keep that going, draw on the experiences I've had in the postseason to deal with the energy that will be around here, but just fall back on your routine and know what you need to do come game day."