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Cubs Notes: Hendricks, Assad, Rotation

A veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks exited his start against the Angels today after just two innings of work, replaced by the right-hander Colten Brewer to start the third inning. The Cubs later announced (as reported by Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic) that Hendricks was out for the start due to back strain.

The 2024 season has been brutal for the 34-year-old righty, as he’s struggled to a 7.48 ERA to go along with a 5.34 FIP in 61 1/3 innings pitched today. That poor performance saw a fair move to the bullpen earlier this season, though injuries elsewhere in the lineup combined with a month of solid results (he posted a 2.67 ERA and 2.97 FIP in 27 innings from May 23 to June 25) allowed him to slip back into the rotation late in the season. of June. Now, his status appears to be in doubt again after he was ruled out today with an injury similar to the one Hendricks suffered which already missed three weeks earlier this year.

Fortunately, Hendricks told reporters (as noted by Marquee Sports Network’s Tony Andracki) after the game that the issue is not the same issue that caused him to miss time back in May. The seasoned player noted that he started to feel his back closing yesterday, and said that when the pain continued today, he and the team decided to continue with the start in the hope that he would be able to hold it. Hendricks expressed confidence that he can start again, even though he is a manager Craig Counsell he was more cautious, noting that it wasn’t clear whether Hendricks would be ready to take the ball early.

That could be a problem for the Cubs, as they have Monday off and are scheduled to play seven games in six days after that heading into the All-Star break, including a doubleheader against the Cardinals in July. 13. If Hendricks can’t make one of those starts, that would leave the Cubs with just three healthy regular starters (Justin Steele, Shota Imanagaagain Jameson Taillon) between injuries Javier Assad, Ben Brownagain Jordan Wicks. Swingman Hayden Wesneski He joined the rotation in recent days despite struggling badly in the bullpen throughout the month of June and the numbers will continue to come in for a start while the rotation gets healthy, but if Hendricks can’t make one of those starts the club still needs two more to start before the break.

Counsel suggested to reporters (including Andracki) after the game that Assad could return from the right hand problem that sidelined him late last month to start, noting that the club is “hopeful” he can contribute to the victory. big leagues next weekend. If Assad, who has posted a solid 3.04 ERA through 16 starts despite an average FIP of 4.16 this year, can return while Hendricks avoids IL independence that could solve the club’s short-term rotation questions. If Hendricks doesn’t recover quickly enough to take the ball over the weekend, however, that will leave the club looking for innings just before the All Star break.

Speaking of speculation, the Cubs could land the veteran southpaw Drew Smyly to make one of those beginnings. The lefty started 23 games in Chicago last year but has only been used out of the bullpen so far in the 2024 campaign and last threw even 40 pitches in an April 5 outing. Late Horton is at the Triple-A level but won’t be an option during the lockout due to a subscapularis strain last month. Journeyman lefty Thomas Pannon made 18 starts for the team in Triple-A this year, but posted mediocre results (4.57 ERA in 86 2/3 innings) and will need to be added to the 40-man roster. Bullpen play could be another opportunity for the club, but that would be a tall order for a relief team that already lost Wesneski to the rotation while Yency Almonte, Adbert Alzolay, Julian Merryweatheragain Mark Leiter Jr. all were sidelined by injuries of their own and had to pitch seven innings in Hendricks’ win today.

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