Both Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs know the clock is ticking

The end of the road for the last man standing from that unforgettable 2016 team could come sooner than any of us anticipated.
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs / Griffin Quinn/GettyImages

A 12.00 ERA in five starts isn't going to cut it. Leading the league in hits, runs and home runs allowed isn't either. None of that is a secret to Kyle Hendricks, who is in his 11th season with the Chicago Cubs and knows that he only has so much time to get things sorted out on the mound.

The postgame comments from his manager, Craig Counsell, over the weekend made that perfectly clear, regardless of how much everyone continues to preach patience with the 34-year-old.

“We need better results, frankly,” he told the media after Hendricks allowed four earned on six hits in four innings in a 6-3 loss to the lowly Marlins at Wrigley. There were more positives, sure, but the box score wound up looking similar to what we've seen every time the right-hander has taken the hill this season.

With Jameson Taillon back - and looking sharp - right-hander Ben Brown, who had really settled into the rotation nicely of late, shifted back to the bullpen. But another clunker from Hendricks could force the Cubs' hand in shaking things up. Factor in the looming return of ace Justin Steele and it quickly becomes abundantly clear that Hendricks needs to turn things around in a big way in his next start.

Obviously, seeing Hendricks' time in Chicago end abruptly would be tough for all of us who have enjoyed watching him pitch for the last decade - from an ERA crown and taking the ball in the pennant clincher and Game 7 of the World Series in 2016 to his 'Maddux' against the Cardinals on a beautiful summer day at Wrigley and too many other moments to list out here.

Kyle Hendricks is a liability the Cubs cannot afford if they want to win

But the simple truth is this: anything short of a return to the postseason (and, if we're being honest here, a division crown) for the Cubs this season is a failure and, right now, Hendricks is a major liability in the rotation. Maybe he could pivot to the bullpen as a long reliever, but, again, that's something he's done just one time in his entire career and, given his lack of velocity, I don't see how that plays outside of mop-up duty.

If he can't get things figured out by the end of the month, we could be looking at the end of the Kyle Hendricks era on the North Side, whether that means designating him for assigment or letting him ride the pine on the IL.