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Long-Time Veteran Moves to Cubs Bullpen to Work on Himself

The Chicago Cubs rotation will be without one of their most familiar names from the past decade. Struggling starter and long-time veteran Kyle Hendricks has been moved to the bullpen, according to Cubs manager Craig Counsell on Tuesday. He did emphasize that the goal isn’t to make this move a permanent one, however.

“The goal still is to get Kyle on track and get him back in the rotation,” Counsell said. “That’s absolutely what I’d like to do.”

In seven starts this season, Hendricks is 0-4 with an alarming 10.57 ERA. What’s also concerning is the rate at which he is getting hit hard. In 30 2/3 innings, Hendricks has given up 50 hits, 10 of them being home runs. Opponents are hitting .362 off of him. Counsell has been patient, but now he has to do what’s right for the team.

Cubs Moving Kyle Hendricks to the Bullpen

Hendricks, 34, has been in the Cubs organization since 2012 when he was dealt to the Cubs by the Texas Rangers. In exchange, the Cubs sent pitcher Ryan Dempster to Texas. After being named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year by the Cubs in 2013, Hendricks began 2014 with Triple-A Iowa. By July 2014, Hendricks was promoted to the Cubs major league roster, and he’s been a mainstay in the Cubs rotation ever since.

Hendricks impressed in his 13 starts as a Cub in 2014, going 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA. He immediately drew comparisons to the great Greg Maddux due to his pitching style. Hendricks was never a flamethrower. He relied solely on location and changing speeds. This surgical approach, and the fact that he had an economics degree from Dartmouth College, coined him the nickname “The Professor.”

In his first seven seasons, Hendricks never finished a season with an ERA exceeding 3.95. He gave the Cubs a lot of innings and had low walk rates. While he never posted devastating strikeout numbers, he got the job done with his old-school approach and high baseball IQ. He owns a career ERA of 3.63 in 254 appearances.

2016 was Hendricks’ best season, as he went 16-8 with a league-leading 2.13 ERA. This ultimately helped propel the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years, ending the longest championship drought in sports history. Hendricks got the start in the crucial Game 7 in the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Guardians. His effectiveness helped the Cubs pull off one of the most dramatic series comebacks in MLB history.

Hendricks Is the Last Remaining Member of the 2016 World Series Team

Hendricks is the last remaining member of that World Series-winning Cubs team. Because of this, he has become a fan favorite over the years and represents a memory that many fans consider one of the best days of their lives. It is hard to let go of such nostalgia. I’m sure this is why Hendricks has been given a long leash so far this year to right the ship. And I’m sure this is why he will be given the opportunity to work out his issues from the bullpen. I’d love to see Hendricks return to the Cubs rotation. Here’s hoping Hendricks can return to “The Professor” that Cubs fans grew to love.

Main Photo: © David Banks-USA TODAY Sports


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