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'Change' of pace: Hendricks, Davies on display

Cubs, Brewers starters demonstrate how they've been successful without high velocity
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- In an era where hard throwers and eye-popping velocity readings are standard, the pair of starters in Monday's game between the Cubs and Brewers at Miller Park provided a change of pace in what has become the new norm.

Right-handers Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies brought two of the best changeups in baseball to the mound and flashed exactly why they have been so successful with the pitch in the Cubs' 7-2 win. Hendricks picked up the victory and lowered his Major League-best ERA to 2.07, allowing one run and striking out six over six innings, while Davies suffered a tough-luck loss in giving up two earned runs over 6 2/3 frames.

Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- In an era where hard throwers and eye-popping velocity readings are standard, the pair of starters in Monday's game between the Cubs and Brewers at Miller Park provided a change of pace in what has become the new norm.

Right-handers Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies brought two of the best changeups in baseball to the mound and flashed exactly why they have been so successful with the pitch in the Cubs' 7-2 win. Hendricks picked up the victory and lowered his Major League-best ERA to 2.07, allowing one run and striking out six over six innings, while Davies suffered a tough-luck loss in giving up two earned runs over 6 2/3 frames.

Full Game Coverage

Entering the day, opponents were batting .124 (27-for-217) against Hendricks' changeup -- the lowest mark in baseball, according to Statcast™ (min. 100 at-bats). Davies' change produced the lowest average exit velocity -- 81.4 mph -- in baseball (min. 50 balls in play). Hendricks' changeup was worth a league-best 18.4 runs above average entering the day, according to FanGraphs, while Davies ranked 11th at 6.9 runs.

"Yeah, it's fun to go out there with a guy who kind of throws similar," Davies said. "That's the fun part of our game, that you go into each start and you don't have to have the biggest stuff. If you find hitters' weaknesses and you exploit that, then you can be successful, too."

Video: CHC@MIL: Davies strikes out Bryant in the 6th inning

Prior to the game, Brewers manager Craig Counsell called Hendricks the Cubs' "best pitcher." Hendricks then went out and did nothing to dissuade Counsell of that opinion.

"He's pitching at a very high level," Counsell said. "He's become great at what he's been good at. He's a challenge. He's able to manipulate the baseball, command the baseball."

Relying heavily on his sinker to go along with the change thrown 26.2 percent of the time (the highest mark in baseball), Hendricks' lone blip was a solo homer to Chris Carter to lead off the second.

Video: CHC@MIL: Carter smacks a solo homer to left-center

"It wasn't a good pitch, it wasn't a terrible pitch, and it leaked back over the plate," Hendricks said. "I think that was really the only thing I was struggling with today. Glove side, I was pulling a couple fastballs and sailing a few back over the middle of the plate. That was one of them. After that at-bat, I did a much better job pitching inside just to give myself some more room glove side."

Hendricks has now allowed three or fewer earned runs in 19 consecutive starts, which is the longest streak by any pitcher this season.

Video: CHC@MIL: Hendricks fans Carter in the 4th inning

"I don't think he was as sharp as he normally is," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He kept on grinding, he competed, he kept making pitches. ... That's why he kept us in the ballgame, and that's why he got the 'W.'

"In order for him to get away with stuff, he needs to be smart about it and locate his pitches. Same with Davies. The guys who don't throw 98 [mph], they need to be a pitcher."

After throwing five scoreless frames on 58 pitches, Davies ran into his share of bad luck in the sixth and seventh. Chicago tied the game on a broken-bat single by Jorge Soler in the sixth.

Video: CHC@MIL: Soler singles to left to score La Stella

With two outs in the seventh, Montero hit a ball 82 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™, for a double. Chris Coghlan followed with a single with an exit velocity of 73 mph to put the Cubs up, 2-1.

Video: CHC@MIL: Coghlan plates Montero on an RBI single

The next batter, Tommy La Stella, hit a 72-mph grounder that resulted in a single, with Coghlan racing around to score on an error on the play.

Video: CHC@MIL: Fielding error allows Coghlan to score

"Every run they scored, even the base hits he gave up, that was soft contact," Counsell said of the Cubs against Davies. "Some jam shots. If anything, they get rewarded for contact today. It wasn't hard contact, it was just contact, and they got rewarded for that. He pitched great. He pitched excellent. He was outstanding."

Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, Zach Davies, Kyle Hendricks