Cubs: Father Time is catching up to Kyle Hendricks
Father Time is something that every athlete never wishes to meet. Eventually, everybody comes face-to-face with it though, and whether it is at age 32 or 42, a reckoning arrives. Unfortunately for longtime Cubs fan favorite Kyle Hendricks, it seems that moment may have arrived sooner rather than later.
Hendricks has not been the same since the shortened 2020 season, where he had a 2.88 ERA in 12 games. Since then, his ERA has been above a 4.00, as 2021 was a 4.77 ERA and 2022 will draw to a close at a 4.80 ERA. Earlier this week, the Cubs placed Hendricks on the 60-day injured list, ultimately ending his season.
When on the mound, he ranked in the bottom eight percent of the league in xSLG, bottom 12 in xBA and bottom 13 in hard hit rate. All told, he just wasn’t getting the weak contact he’s made a living on during much of his career.
The right-hander and former MLB ERA champion managed just 84 1/3 innings this year, amidst a wave of injuries that came crashing down on the Cubs starting rotation. With just one year left on his deal, the question now becomes: what does Chicago do with Hendricks next year?
If the Cubs truly want to rebuild, the best option is to send him to the bullpen as a long reliever or utilize him as a spot starter. There just is not space for Hendricks in the rotation anymore. As my fellow contributor wrote a few months ago, the 2023 rotation is likely to be Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, Caleb Kilian, Keegan Thompson, and either a free agent signing or Adbert Alzolay or Javier Assad.
The team has so many options for the fifth starting spot for 2023, and the best thing they could do is bring in the young arms now, as they are rebuilding. It is definitely unfortunate to see how Hendricks’ career has quickly fallen, but whenever he is starting, you always have to wonder if he will even make it out of the fourth or fifth inning.
As we all learned last season, moving on from fan favorites is always difficult, but for a rebuilding team, it is time to move on. The Cubs should buy-out his contract and let him be a free agent, however I believe they are more likely to keep him and move him to the bullpen.