Kyle Hendricks' downfall is eerily similar to another Chicago Cubs World Series hero

It may be time for the Cubs to bite the bullet and cut Kyle Hendricks
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs
Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs / Griffin Quinn/GettyImages

Kyle Hendricks is pitching like a shell of his former self, and his steep decline is eerily similar to another 2016 World Series hero the team was forced to cut due to poor performance.

In 2021, the Cubs brought back former ace Jake Arrieta on a one-year contract worth $4 million, with a $10 million mutual option for 2022. I was excited about the deal at the time because even though Arrieta had struggled with the Philadelphia Phillies for the previous few seasons, he was returning to the city where he logged one of the most dominant stretches of pitching ever seen. But the reunion and change of scenery proved to be insufficient for Arrieta's bounceback, and he again struggled in what proved to be his final MLB season.

Arrieta was 35 that year, and there were at least some promising signs out of the gate. In his first seven games of 2021, Arrieta turned in four quality starts and looked to be a decent back-of-the-rotation piece. But things began to spiral after several stints on the injured list, and he was unable to make it past the fourth inning in his last five starts with the team. Arrieta's second stint in Chicago came to a close after an Aug. 11 start against the Milwaukee Brewers, where he gave up eight earned runs and 11 hits in four innings of work. The team placed him on unconditional release waivers after the game and his final ERA in 2021 came in at an ugly 6.88.

Alarmingly, the 34-year-old Kyle Hendricks has already had several starts in 2024 comparable to Arrieta's last game against Milwaukee.

It's hard to admit, but it's time to move on from Kyle Hendricks

The most recent bashing came at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, who went into the game with the worst batting average (.214) and wRC+ (76) against right-handed pitching among all MLB teams this year. Despite their offensive struggles, the Buccos pounded Hendricks for 11 hits, seven earned runs and one home run from Jared Triolo, just the fifth one of his career. This is the third game this year where Hendricks has given up seven earned runs and the sixth where he has given up at least four. This is by far the worst start to a season Hendricks has had and it doesn't appear to be getting any better.

He has already had one injured list stint, which was likely just a breather for him to figure things out in his rehab starts. Upon returning, Hendricks admittedly looked better in his start on May 12 - also against the Pirates - where he made it through five innings and surrendered one earned run. This was his only decent start of 2024 though, and he still walked four batters in it. It is time for the Cubs to start planning for Hendricks' release from this team.

While the Cubs were willing to let Arrieta try and figure things out until August, they can't afford that kind of leash with Hendricks. The team was not planning on competing in 2021, as they had alreadydumped Yu Darvish's salary to the San Diego Padres in the previous offseason before selling all of their tradable assets at the trade deadline.

But the team is in a completely different position in 2024. They are coming off a winter where they signed an elite starting pitcher, traded for an everyday first baseman and snagged one of the best managers in baseball away from Milwaukee. The Cubs are trying to win right now, and Hendricks is holding the team back. They can't afford for him to put the team in a position to lose every fifth day, especially when several other proven options are currently on the active roster. Ben Brown and Hayden Wesneski have already proven themselves as capable starting pitchers this year with better arsenals, stamina and results than Hendricks. Not to mention Jordan Wicks is on his way back from the injured list.

Kyle Hendricks is Cubs legend who delivered some of the greatest moments in franchise history, but I could say the same about Jake Arrieta. And when I think of Arrieta now, I think about him mowing people down in his 2015 Cy Young campaign, and shoving during his World Series starts. I don't think of 2021 Arrieta. Similarly, I'll think of the great moments Hendricks gave us in 2016 a few years from now. It's time to rip the band-aid off and pass the torch onto the younger pitchers.