Chicago Cubs: A strong start for Kyle Hendricks would re-establish his value
By Mia Perlman
As baseball fans, and Chicago Cubs fans, one of our worst fears is coming true. Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have yet to agree, and the lockout is unfortunately still in place. At this point, we’re not just talking about spring training being delayed – the 2022 regular season is in jeopardy of starting on time, as well.
While a delay is almost inevitable at this point, the hope is that there is still somewhat of a typical season once the two sides do agree. Keeping that in mind, many teams, including the Cubs, have holes to fill and issues to address before the season commences.
The Cubs will need to make significant changes to contend this season, and they will need players who struggled in 2021 improve in 2022. One of the players whose resurgence would be most vital to the team’s success is righty Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks, 32, went into last season as the team’s ace, but his performance last season was anything but ace-like.
Hendricks had the worst season of his career in 2021. Not only did the right-hander struggle, but the rest of the Cubs’ pitching staff did, as well. There was an abundance of trade talks surrounding the club last season, and if the team doesn’t perform, this year won’t be any different. It makes me wonder if Hendricks does bounce back, but the Cubs aren’t in contention, if Jed Hoyer will shop the veteran.
Chicago Cubs: An improved Kyle Hendricks could act as a trade chip if needed
The Cubs have no shot at competing if Hendricks does not get back on track next season. While the front office made additions to the rotation, including Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley, Hendricks was still deemed the team’s ace – a label he’ll look to justify in 2022.
On the heels of that horrendous 2021 showing, there’s zero chance Chicago shops Hendricks prior to Opening Day. After all, Hendricks had a season full of worsts, including a 4.77 ERA and 1.348 WHIP. He’ll need to rebuild and re-establish his value in the first half if the Cubs wanted to get anything of substance for their crafty hurler.
Not only is Hendricks’ stuff not overpowering, but he allows too many home runs. Last season he started off doing fine. He did not reach ace-caliber status, but he did what he typically does on the mound. However, the second half of last season was his downfall. He underperformed, and as a result, his trade value is at an all-time low.
The bottom line is Kyle Hendricks needs to shape up for the sake of the Chicago Cubs competing in 2022. If the Cubs do not enter the year as a successful club, but the right-hander somehow builds trade value, he might see himself on the trade block and pitching elsewhere within the year.