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Mainstay Cubs Pitcher Could Return To Rotation With Wicks Back on IL

The injury hits keep on coming for the struggling Chicago Cubs. Jordan Wicks is the latest Cubs pitcher to hit the injured list in a season where the pitching staff has yet to be fully healthy. The Cubs placed Wicks on the 15-day IL on Saturday after he suffered a right oblique strain in Friday’s start against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field. Wicks sustained the injury in the second inning and had to exit the game. It was the left-hander’s second start since coming off his first stint on the IL. He had previously missed all of May with a strained forearm. Despite the bad news on Wicks, it could mean that Kyle Hendricks will return to the rotation after a stint in the bullpen.

With Wicks Out, Kyle Hendricks Could Return to Cubs Rotation

Wicks was taking rookie pitcher Ben Brown’s turn in the rotation after Brown went on the IL on June 9. What was originally called a neck strain for Brown has now been diagnosed as a “stress reaction” in his neck. This means Brown will likely miss more time than originally expected. Brown has emerged as the top young Cubs pitcher on the staff this season, showing electric stuff and being highly versatile. He has 64 strikeouts through 55 1/3 innings to go along with a 3.58 ERA on the season. With Brown likely missing extended time, the Cubs could see a familiar face returning to the starting rotation.

Kyle Hendricks was demoted to the bullpen almost a month ago after posting a 10.57 ERA over seven starts this season. Since his move to the bullpen, Hendricks has been much more efficient. In 14 1/3 innings of relief, Hendricks has a 3.14 ERA and hasn’t allowed a run in his past three appearances. After Wicks exited the game on Friday, Hendricks took over and had his best showing out of the bullpen to date. He pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing only two hits.

Prior to Wicks officially hitting the IL, Cubs manager Craig Counsell hinted at the possibility of Hendricks’ return to the rotation:

“We’ll see where we’re at when we get there, but I think it looks like it.”

Keegan Thompson Recalled from Iowa

In a corresponding move to Wicks’ IL designation, the Cubs recalled pitcher Keegan Thompson from Triple-A Iowa. The right-hander figures to slot into the bullpen for the Cubs, taking the place of Hendricks. Thompson has struggled in his limited time in the majors this year. In nine appearances, he has a bloated 4.97 ERA.

The 34-year-old Hendricks is the last remaining member of the Cubs 2016 World Series-winning team. He is undoubtedly a fan favorite, and his demotion to the bullpen was tough to swallow. But should he get a second chance in the rotation, he’d love nothing more than to cement himself back where he’s been for most of his career.

 

Photo Credit: © Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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