Cubs should consider sidelining Kyle Hendricks for 2022
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks has not pitched in a game since July 5, as he has been on the IL with a right shoulder strain. He has gone through checkups with the team doctor and is still yet to return to throwing programs. Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported a little over a week ago he was still symptomatic with the shoulder issues.
Cubs manager David Ross mentioned this past week that Hendricks is still, “pretty far away” in terms of returning. The Cubs have two months left in the season, less than 60 games, and Hendricks is not even throwing yet. Right now the team is trying to remain optimistic he will throw again in 2022, but time is running out.
The Cubs should gear Kyle Hendricks up for 2023 in a lost 2022 season
At this point ramping Hendricks back up to pitch in 2022 seems a bit pointless. The team is not in a playoff chase and Hendricks really does not have anything to prove. If the Cubs still value him as a piece in the rotation going forward then don’t risk him pitching in meaningless games. Even if Chicago is considering looking to shop Hendricks in the offseason, potentially pitching him in a few games toward the end of the season is not going to move the needle on his current value.
There are a few things to keep in mind in terms of the rotation going forward Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson will likely only throw a few more games before being shut down due to load management. That is two vacant spots in the rotation that will need to be filled in the final weeks. That said, this should still not mean Hendricks should be forced back.
Mark Leiter Jr., Steven Brault (currently on COVID IL) and Sean Newcomb are on the roster with experience starting games. Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly and Adrian Sampson are currently slotted in the rotation, with Wade Miley expected back soon. We could also potentially see a spot start or two from Anderson Espinoza.
Do not rule out seeing Caleb Kilian getting another crack at the majors this year either. It would be nice if Alec Mills could come back just for the sole purpose of eating innings. The options are plentiful and, again, the games in terms of final scores mean nothing. This is just about filling the roles through the rest of 2022.
Hendricks being fully healthy for 2023 would be ideal. Even if he is not the pitcher he once was and the Cubs see major changes in the rotation with prospects coming up and signings, having the veteran ready to go next year still makes sense for the time being. Take the pressure off his shoulder now and gear up for next year.