The Cubs are going to be reinstate right-hander Kyle Hendricks from the injured list, with Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic among those to relay the information from manager David Ross. Hendricks will start Thursday’s game against the Mets.
Hendricks, 33, will be making his first major league appearance in almost a year. He last climbed the hill on July 5 of last year, after which he was placed on the injured list with a shoulder strain. Initial MRIs didn’t reveal any structural damage but he was eventually diagnosed with a capsular tear. The tear was relatively small and didn’t require surgery, but he has nonetheless required a lengthy period of time to get back to full health.
The righty had spent many years as a reliable cog in the Cubs’ rotation prior to falling off a bit in recent seasons. From 2014 to 2020, he logged over a thousand innings with a 3.12 ERA. His 20.8% strikeout rate in that time was on the modest side but he showed excellent control with a 5.3% walk rate and kept the ball on the ground at a 47.5% clip. That also included several strong postseason starts, such as 2016 when he took the ball five times with a 1.42 ERA and helped the Cubs win the World Series for the first time in over a century. He’s now the only Cubs player from that curse-breaking club that’s still on the roster.
In 2021 and 2022, however, he posted a combined 4.78 ERA with all of his rate stats worsening by a bit. He stuck out 17.3% of batters faced while walking 6% and getting grounders on 41% of balls in play. Hendricks has been rehabbing in recent weeks, making five starts with a 5.75 ERA in that time. However, most of that damage came in the first two outings, as he had a 1.69 ERA in the final three. Only time will tell what sort of results he can post at the major league level after the long injury layoff.
The Cubs’ starters have a collective 3.93 ERA this year, which places them 10th out of the 30 clubs in the league. Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele and Drew Smyly are all posting good results, though Jameson Taillon has an 8.10 ERA through seven starts. There’s surely a lot of bad luck in there given his .369 batting average on balls in play and 50% strand rate, leading to a nicer 4.93 FIP and 4.52 SIERA. He’ll undoubtedly have a long leash to figure things out since he just signed a four-year, $68MM deal this winter. Hendricks figures to take the rotation spot of Hayden Wesneski, who was recently optioned after posting a 5.03 ERA through eight starts.
The performance of Hendricks in the remainder of this season will impact the club on the field but also from a business perspective. He and the club signed a four-year $55.5MM extension going into 2019, with 2023 being the final guaranteed season. He’s making $14MM this season and the club has a $16MM club option for 2024 with a $1.5MM buyout.