Good news out of Tennessee, where Chicago Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks made his first rehab start last night for the AA Smokies.
Hendricks has been recovering from a bout of tendinitis in his right middle finger, which has had him sidelined since June 4.
For the Smokies, Hendricks threw 45 pitches, which sounds about right for a first time out. By all accounts, he looked good and had success:
It was short-lived, but @kylehendricks28 night is over.
Final statline: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 K pic.twitter.com/PmbXwkaJvT
— Tennessee Smokies (@smokiesbaseball) July 10, 2017
Where Hendricks will go from here depends a great deal on how he feels, and whether the Cubs feel he’s stretched out enough to return to the big league rotation. It’s possible he threw additional pitches in the bullpen after his 45 in-game pitches, or it’s possible the Cubs will want him to make one more rehab start before returning to the big league rotation.
When he does come back, it’ll be interesting to see what the Cubs elect to do with the rotation. One approach is that they could simply slide Hendricks in, and go with six starting pitchers until after the Trade Deadline (which might totally recalibrate things organically).
I tend to think it’s more likely Hendricks replaces one of Mike Montgomery or Eddie Butler, the former of whom could move back into the bullpen, or the latter of whom could be optioned back to AAA Iowa. I can see the upside in Montgomery in the bullpen, but, for me, I like him too much in the rotation to move him out at this point. Notably, Montgomery is set to make the Cubs’ first start out of the break.
We’ll see what the Cubs elect to do when Hendricks is ready.