When Cubs get Kyle Hendricks back, Hayden Wesneski looks like odd man out
By Jake Misener
There's no two ways around it: Hayden Wesneski was downright bad on Saturday against the Twins. The Cubs rookie right-hander got shellacked, allowing seven earned on seven hits in five innings of work - with four of those hits leaving the yard.
That start ended a recent five-start stretch where he looked better, holding opponents to a .580 OPS and working to a 2.22 ERA and 3.54 FIP across 28 1/3 innings of work. The timing isn't great, either, with Kyle Hendricks getting closer and closer to being ready to return to a big league mound for the first time since July 5, 2022.
Cubs aren't getting what they need out of rookie Hayden Wesneski
Saturday's implosion did a number on Wesneski's numbers for the year: he's up to a 5.03 ERA and 5.93 FIP - and is also tied for the league lead with 10 home runs allowed. Lefties, as our friends at Bleacher Nation pointed out, have absolutely obliterated him this year - and his command just hasn't been what it needs to be for him to be a viable big league starter.
With guys who were expected to be reliable bullpen pieces like Brad Boxberger and Michael Fulmer struggling, a move to the pen seems likely for Wesneski (that is, if he doesn't get more seasoning at Triple-A to work on command/secondary pitches). That would open up a spot in the rotation for Hendricks, who seems to be trending in the right direction after a strong rehab start his last time out for Iowa.
It's not like the Cubs are boxed into a corner on Hendricks or Wesneski, either. Ben Brown has been nothing short of dominant in two starts since being promoted to Triple-A and I don't think it would surprise anyone to see him toe the rubber at Wrigley at some point this summer.
Wesneski will likely have a role to play for Chicago - whether it be this year or long-term. Getting him right and addressing the evident flaws in his game right now should be the priority, whether that means a demotion or a shift to a new role. But the Twins exposed the deficiencies he has and you can bet the rest of the league took notice.