Chicago Cubs: Two clunkers torpedoed Kyle Hendricks’ August

Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

If there’s one player left standing on this new-look Chicago Cubs team following the fire sale from late July even casual fans know and love, it’s Kyle Hendricks. The right-hander is one of the few remaining bright spots on this club, ranking second in baseball with 14 wins on the year.

That’s despite the fact he won just one of his five starts in the month of August, during which he was roughed up to the tune of a 7.81 ERA and .964 opponent OPS – due largely to a pair of brutal outings, one coming against the Brewers and the other against the White Sox.

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Take those two starts out of the equation and Hendricks was his typical reliable self. But at the end of the day, it’s about the big picture – and as the Cubs embarked on their first month of a new era, one marked by a looming rebuild – their ace missed the mark.

One of the issues that are only compounded when someone like Hendricks struggles is the lack of depth, meaning relievers need to eat more innings. In his three solid starts, the right-hander pitched six innings twice and seven once – but in his pair of losses, he didn’t even get into the fifth.

Sunday’s clunker against the Sox went to pieces very quickly, with the Cubs’ crosstown rival turning a 3-1 North Siders’ advantage on its head in a breakout fifth inning that saw Hendricks hit a batter and walk another before the wheels fell off.

"“In the fifth there, I just kind of got out of rhythm and just made a lot of bad pitches,” said Hendricks. “Really, before that, one bad pitch to Robert there in the first inning. And after that I was executing really well. I felt good about everything. And then, yeah, in the fifth, too many bad pitches.”"

That one had some extra pain for Cubs fans given the man on the bump for the Sox was none other than former prospect Dylan Cease, who was sent to the South Side along with Eloy Jimenez in the Jose Quintana trade back in 2017. Cease continued his quality campaign, notching 11 strikeouts over six frames to improve to 11-6 on the year.

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With two years remaining on his deal and nothing but uncertainty behind him in the starting rotation, Hendricks isn’t going anywhere. But his August looked a lot like his first month of the season, where he got out of sync and missed his spots more than we’re accustomed to seeing. Here’s to hoping he’s back on track here in the final month to close out the 2021 season.