No matter what, the legacy of Kyle Hendricks is set in Chicago Cubs history

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Kyle Hendricks is getting closer to being ready to pitch again for the Chicago Cubs. The 33-year-old righty has not pitched in a game since July 5, 2022, and has since been recovering from a capsular tear in his throwing shoulder. While he is not projected to be ready for Opening Day, the rehab process has gone well so far.

The hope for Hendricks is for him not only to be 100% healthy again but to regain some of his prime form back. The last two years have seen a major dip in performance, as he sports a cumulative 4.78 ERA, 1.3 WHIP, 4.87 FIP, and 285 hits given up in 265.1 innings from 2021-2022. That stretch was a far cry from the run he had from his debut in 2014 through 2020.

Hendricks is under contract in 2023, with a club option in 2024. The Opening Day rotation in the absence of Hendricks projects to be Marcus Stroman, Jameson Taillon, Justin Steele, Drew Smyly, and Hayden Wesneski. It will be interesting to see how they work Hendricks in when that time comes.

Hendricks could regain some of his form back, he has been working hard on his mechanics during his rehab process, but there is also the possibility he just is not the same pitcher he once was. If he ends up not being the same pitcher...the vast pitching depth the organization currently has makes it not as big of a deal. For Hendricks himself, his place in Cubs lore is set and recent struggles should not take away from his legacy as a North Sider.

Coming in as an unknown throw-in prospect in the Ryan Dempster trade in 2012 with the Rangers, "The Professor" brought his A-game in a number of crucial games during the "Golden Years". In 2016 he sported the lowest ERA in baseball (2.13) among qualified starters and finished third in Cy Young voting. His spot in Cubs history was officially marked on October 22, 2016, when he threw the 7.1 inning gem against the Dodgers to clinch their first pennant since 1945. He was so in control of that game, all Fox commentator Joe Buck could muster was, "Wow..." when describing his performance that night.

For a guy who never possessed overpowering stuff and relies on location and changing speeds, his 3.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.53 FIP, and 1.9 BB/9 from 2014-2020 (1,047.1 innings) were incredibly impressive feats. He pitched five complete games over that stretch, including his 81-pitch "Maddux" game on May 3, 2019. He also sports a career 3.12 postseason ERA (1.42 Postseason ERA in 2016) in 57.2 innings.

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Hendricks is the last remaining member of the 2016 Cubs on the 40-man roster. He was here when the Theo Epstein rebuild was in progress and remains in the Jed Hoyer transition era. He helped give us hope when things were shaping up, executed when the time to win had come, and sustained success for several more years. All while carrying himself with class and staying cool as a cucumber. This is what his legacy is about.

So many Cubs fans will be rooting hard for Hendricks when he comes back. He still remains a fan-favorite and will remain one after he no longer pitches. He is, forever, "The Professor".