The end of the 2023 regular season is upon us, and the Chicago Cubs may just make the postseason. There were certainly a lot of ups and downs this year, but all told, it was pretty great to watch this team play competitive baseball once again.
Whether the team makes the playoffs or not, there are plenty of unexpected things to look back on that happened this year; some good and some bad. Here are 5 surprises we saw this year that helped the Cubs, if nothing else, knock on the door of October baseball once again.
5 Cubs surprises - #1: Kyle Hendricks returned to form
Veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks hasn't skipped a beat since returning from a capsular tear that sidelined him in July of 2022. Going into the year, not many had Hendricks' return on their minds, much less expecting to see him to excel after a serious shoulder injury.
But since late May, Hendricks has compiled 132.2 innings with a 3.66 ERA and 91 strikeouts. More importantly, his bad outings have been few and far between. Nobody should expect to see Hendricks return to his 2016 heights especially since his bread and butter is a changeup. But the guy has been a solid mid-rotation starter and he has kept the team in the majority of his 23 starts, 12 of which have been of the quality variety.
The Cubs will most likely pick up Hendricks' club option for 2024 and look to keep him in the starting rotation. If he continues to put up solid numbers, I'd even like to see Hendricks come back on a short-term deal after 2024. He has played every season of his big league career with the Cubs so far and he is a delight to teammates and fans alike. I also very much like the idea of Hendricks finishing his career with Chicago as the last remaining member of the 2016 World Series team to help pass the torch to the next generation.