Unflappable Hendricks confident for Game 3

Cubs righty has dominated at Wrigley while learning to control his emotions

October 26th, 2016

CHICAGO -- In his two seasons as the Cubs' manager, Joe Maddon can't recall seeing rush through anything.

"I'm sure he takes time brushing his teeth," Maddon said with a laugh. "I would imagine his cup of coffee takes two hours to drink. ... I would bet that he has the slowest back swing in history. He is just that guy, he's that guy."

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That ability to control his emotions helps Hendricks slow the game down, and it's part of the reason why the Cubs have so much confidence in him as he prepares to take the mound for Game 3 of the World Series tonight against and the Indians with the Series tied at one game apiece.

It'll be the first time Wrigley Field has hosted a World Series game since 1945, and Hendricks has been at his best at the Friendly Confines this season.

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He was 9-2 with a 1.32 ERA at home during the regular season, compared to 7-6 with a 2.95 ERA on the road. Hendricks said he feels comfortable at Wrigley, from the new remodeled clubhouse to the surface of the field and how it feels like the fans are right on top of him.

"It just feels like I'm right at home, honestly," Hendricks said. "I think that's part of why I've had the success here. Just being able to make pitches. I know when I come in, I know what my timing is, I know my routine, I know where I've got to go. Coming out, you know what you're going to get out of the crowd: There is going to be a lot of energy every game, even regular season."

Hendricks has followed a breakout regular season, during which he posted the lowest ERA in the Majors, with a strong start to the postseason. In three October starts, he has allowed three runs in 16 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a .471 OPS.

His latest gem came in the National League Championship Series clincher Saturday night vs. the Dodgers at Wrigley, where he tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits -- to the first batter of the game and to the final batter he faced. He did it all in 88 pitches and without hitting 90 mph on the radar gun.

"He's not going to break the radar gun, but my goodness, he can command the baseball as good as anybody," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He reminds me a lot of [Marco] Estrada in Toronto. Changeup, command, locates fastball -- he's really, really good. You don't have to knock the radar gun's lights out to be a good pitcher. There's different ways to do it. You might be comfortable up at the plate, but you're also comfortable going back to the dugout."

Combine that movement with his poise on the mound and the Cubs feel confident that Hendricks can swing this Series in their favor. And although his teammates and manager have lauded his ability to control his emotions, it did not always come easy to Hendricks.

"You have to learn it somewhat, I think," he said. "You get the anxiety and nervousness before you get out there. Once you're on the field and on the mound, it kind of goes away, and you're in your element.

"So I guess going through the experiences of just starting game after game after game, learning how to deal with those feelings, after a time you just learn how to kind of push it to the side and know when you get out on the field, everything's going to be how it is."

There's no need to rush.