Chicago Cubs News: Kyle Hendricks return on the horizon with rehab assignment

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

The last remaining member of the 2016 Chicago Cubs' World Series squad has been sidelined since early July 2022 from a capsular tear in his shoulder, but the return of Kyle Hendricks is very well on the horizon after a successful sim game showing. 

The righty went three innings in Arizona on Saturday, and David Ross told the media earlier today that the next step on his path will be a bullpen session on Tuesday before an official rehab outing. 

With the Cubs starting pitching making waves to start the season, the imminent Hendricks return brings back a veteran presence to the rotation, but it’d still be interesting to see how the rotation pans out once the Cubs get back both Hendricks and Jameson Taillon. 

The most likely answer for that scenario, though, could result in a much shorter leash for Hayden Wesneski. He’s probably not someone to worry about long-term, but control issues have been plaguing him to start the season. In six appearances with four starts last season, Wesneski posted a 25% strikeout percentage on top of a 5.3% walk mark, but throughout four starts to start 2023, his K% has gone down to 15% while the walks have raised to 8.8%. Additionally, he’s being hit much harder than he was last season– compared to a 16.9% hard hit mark in 2022, batters have raised this to an astounding 44.3%. For context, Marcus Stroman (17.5%) and Justin Steele (19.4) rank in the top-10 across all baseball in hard hit%.

As Hendricks looks to rejoin the rotation soon, he’ll be joining a rotation that currently ranks third in all of baseball in ERA (2.96), and it’ll be interesting to see how the veteran can compliment the early success. It’s not realistic to expect the 33-year old return to 2016 form, but a fully healthy Hendricks that could possibly get back to the 3.90 ERA he had in the month leading up to his injury could solidify him as the back-end starter the Cubs will need for pitching depth.

The affiliate for Hendricks’ start is TBD, but is nonetheless a promising sign of his journey back to the Majors.

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