Kyle Hendricks is Officially OUT of the Cubs Rotation (For Now)

Kyle Hendricks
Kyle Hendricks

Before today’s series opener against the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs released their pitching probables for the week. And where Kyle Hendricks’ name was supposed to be penciled in this Thursday was a big fat TBD. There was a chance the Cubs were just going to use the off day to simply skip Kyle Hendricks spot in the rotation, but that’s not the case.

Kyle Hendricks Out of Cubs Rotation

Per multiple accounts, Craig Counsell and the Chicago Cubs have removed Kyle Hendricks from the Chicago Cubs starting rotation. But they’re not cutting bait with him entirely. He’ll stay on the Cubs pitching staff, throwing out of the bullpen for now.

In case you forgot how this season progressed: Kyle Hendricks began the year in the Cubs rotation after a resurgent 2023 season, but it did not go well. Over his first five starts, Hendricks allowed 28 earned runs in just 21 IP (12.00 ERA). That led to a short stint on the Injured List, from which he returned with a pretty good game against the Pirates in terms of results (5.0 IP, 2H, 1ER, 4BB, 5K).

But the metrics didn’t look great under the hood, and he still didn’t look like his usual self. Plus, the Pirates are the worst offense in MLB versus right-handed pitching, so that was a bit of an underwhelming performance.

Five days later, Hendricks faced the Pirates again and was completely blown up: 4.2 IP, 11H, 8R, 7ER, 0BB, 4K. And that’s what brought us to this decision today.

Kyle Hendricks
USA TODAY

What’s Next?

The purported goal is to get “Kyle on track and get him back in the rotation,” but I’m not sure it’ll actually play out that way with Jordan Wicks inching closer to a return (more on that later). If everyone is healthy, Hendricks should arguably be seventh (at best) in line for the rotation, behind at least Justin Steele, Shota Imanaga, Jameson Taillon, Javier Assad, Jordan Wicks, and Hayden Wesneski.

And there’s even an argument to be made that both Ben Brown and Cade Horton should get their next chance ahead of Kyle Hendricks too, but they each come with developmental steps that probably supersede current rotation needs.

Kyle Hendricks has appeared as a reliever just one time in his career, all the way back in 2016, when he tossed 2.0 innings of relief against the Braves before the All-Star break. I don’t remember the particulars, but I’m guessing it was just a way to gobble up some innings with the break coming up.

So this, then, will be his first true stint in the bullpen. And that’ll be pretty interesting to follow. Without premium velocity and with a wider variety of pitches, Hendricks does not have an obvious relief profile, but maybe he can find away to pitch up in shorter outings (velocity, stuff, less diversity, etc.)

In the meantime, Thursday’s game will be a “bullpen day” for the Cubs, which is kinda funny, because, like … is Hendricks starting that game? I’m guessing it’ll be Hayden Wesneski, because otherwise why even make this distinction now.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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