Cubs' decision to start a clearly injured Kyle Hendricks on Saturday is baffling

As if the 2024 season hasn't been bad enough for the veteran, his team hung him out to dry when sending him to the mound against the Angels.
Los Angeles Angels v Chicago Cubs
Los Angeles Angels v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

Shorthanded or not, the Chicago Cubs' decision to have Kyle Hendricks start on Saturday afternoon despite a nagging back issue that made it painful to walk is a tough look for a team in freefall in early July.

“Woke up this morning, still super tight,” Hendricks said after the game. “Came in and everybody knew. We just tried to work through and do as much as I can. The hardest thing to do is walk, honestly. Throwing felt a little better than walking but it was just weird.

'Working through' it equated to two ineffective innings in which he hit a batter, walked two and allowed a pair of runs on four base hits. It was pretty clear even in the first that Hendricks wasn't right, which can hardly come as a surprise given what he was working through.

Injuries or not, the Cubs shouldn't have put Kyle Hendricks in this spot

The Cubs continue to battle injuries on the pitching side of things - and the man who came on in relief of Hendricks in the third, Colton Brewer, added to it by breaking his hand punching the dugout wall after allowing three runs in just two-thirds of an inning. But to send Hendricks out injured is a near-indefensible move by Craig Counsell and the Cubs.

Hendricks' expressed optimism that he would be able to make his next start, which is really neither here nor there at this point. With a fully rested bullpen on the heels of Justin Steele's first career complete game on Friday, Counsell should have, at the very least, given Hendricks another day and gone with a full bullpen game on Saturday.

The veteran right-hander now owns a career-worst 7.53 ERA with a 1-7 record in 11 starts and five relief appearances. He had shown signs of life lately, but getting sent out to face big league hitters when your team knows you're hurt is a tall task - and one that Hendricks should have never had to endure.