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Cubs Place Kyle Hendricks on Injured List

TODAY: The Cubs officially placed Hendricks back on the injured list this morning, and announced the right-hander Jose Kuas optioned to Triple-A Iowa in the corresponding outing. Cuas, 30 next month, has struggled to a 9.00 ERA and 5.03 FIP in six games with the club this year.

May 11: The Cubs plan to put the right-hander to work Kyle Hendricks on the 15-day injured list tomorrow, boss Craig Counsell he told reporters (including Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun Times) following tonight’s game. He will start tomorrow’s game against the Pirates at left tackle Bailey Falter. The Cubs will need to make room for Hendricks on the active roster before the game.

The right hand Jameson Taillon was expected to start tomorrow’s game, but Counsel told reporters (as noted by Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune) earlier today, the right-handed player was dealing with back pain that arose during the bullpen session on Tuesday. Although Counsell indicated after the game that Taillon’s bullpen session today went well, he is still “not ready” to start another game. With the left hand Shota Imanaga scheduled to start Monday’s series opener in Atlanta, which would put Taillon in line to take the ball against the Braves on Tuesday.

That Taillon won’t need another trip to the injured list is certainly a relief to Cubs fans. The right-hander missed the first three weeks of the season with back and quad issues but has been excellent in four starts since being released from the IL, with a 1.13 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 24 innings of work. On the other hand, it’s surprising to see Hendricks activated on the injured list so soon. Although the right-hander has been on the job since early May, the team previously said Hendricks would start his third season this weekend before deciding on next steps. That plan now appears to have been done in favor of Hendricks returning to the team’s rotation.

Rushing a veteran back to the big leagues is a risky decision after his first season. The 34-year-old righty was placed on the disabled list at the end of April because of his problem after starting five games, the results of which were not brutal. Hendricks has yet to record an out in the sixth inning in any of his appearances this season, and he has completed the fifth inning just once while striking out 15.1% of the batters he has faced. While his 6.6% walk rate is well within the norms of his career, he has allowed eight major home runs this season en route to a 12.00 ERA and 7.72 FIP in 21 career innings. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco explored Hendricks’ rough start shortly before the club placed him on the IL last month.

Assuming Taillon is able to work his way back into the club’s rotation next week and Hendricks continues to pitch in the meantime, the Cubs will have an abundance of starting options in their rotation for now. The right hand Ben Brown he has already stepped into the bullpen role after starting four games for the club earlier this year, with a frog Jordan Wicks he is currently on the injured list while tending to the forward, but that still leaves Imanaga, Justin Steele, Javier Assadagain Hayden Wesneski in the first mix with Taillon and Hendricks, to say nothing of high hopes Late Horton hiding at the Triple-A level.

Assuming injuries to that group don’t naturally solve the logjam, the Cubs seem likely to use a six-man or four-man rotation to move Wesneski to the bullpen, where he would pair with Brown to form a deadly multi-inning duo. it has been used in various roles to strengthen the struggling army. Assad also has a lot of experience in his career, but it would be a shock to see the Cubs deal the 26-year-old in a trade given his impressive start to the season that has seen him pitch to a 1.70 ERA in eight games. It’s also possible that if Hendricks’ struggles continue the club could look to move him off the rotation, even though his solo break in the big leagues began in 2016.

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