HomeMLB RumorsCubs To Activate Kyle Hendricks On Sunday

Cubs To Activate Kyle Hendricks On Sunday

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The Cubs plan to activate right-hander Kyle Hendricks from the 15-day injured list tomorrow, manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including Maddie Lee of the Chicago Sun Times) following tonight’s game. He’ll start tomorrow’s game against the Pirates opposite left-hander Bailey Falter. The Cubs will need to make space for Hendricks on the active roster prior to the game.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon was initially expected to start tomorrow’s game, but Counsell told reporters (as noted by Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune) earlier today that the right-hander was dealing with a bout of back stiffness that cropped up during a bullpen session on Tuesday. While Counsell indicated after the game that Taillon’s bullpen session today went well, he nonetheless is “not quite ready” to start another game. With left-hander Shota Imanaga lined up to start Monday’s series opener in Atlanta, that would put Taillon in line to potentially take the ball opposite the Braves on Tuesday.

That Taillon won’t require another trip to the injured list is surely a relief for Cubs fans. The right-hander missed the first three weeks of the season with lower back and quad issues but has been excellent in four starts since being activated off the IL, with a 1.13 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 24 innings of work. On the other hand, it’s somewhat surprising to see Hendricks activated off the injured list so quickly. While the right-hander has been on a rehab assignment since the start of May, the club had previously indicated that the plan was for Hendricks to make a third rehab start this weekend before determining next steps. That plan now appears to have been scuttled in favor of Hendricks returning to the club’s rotation.

Rushing the veteran back into action at the big league level is a risky decision after his start to the season. The 34-year-old righty was placed on the injured list at the end of April due to a lower back issue of his own after making five starts, the results of which were nothing short of brutal. Hendricks has yet to record an out in the sixth inning in any of his appearances this season, and has completed the fifth inning just once while striking out just 15.1% of batters faced. While his 6.6% walk rate is more or less in line with his career norms, he’s allowed a whopping eight home runs this season en route to a ghastly 12.00 ERA and 7.72 FIP in 21 innings of work. MLBTR’s Anthony Franco explored Hendricks’s tough start in depth shortly before the club placed him on the IL last month.

Assuming Taillon is able to slot back into the club’s rotation next week and Hendricks will remain in the mix for starts for the time being, the Cubs figure to have an overflow of starting pitching options for their rotation at the moment. Right-hander Ben Brown has already moved into a bullpen role after starting four games for the club earlier this year, and lefty Jordan Wicks is currently on the injured list while nursing a forearm strain, but that still leaves Imanaga, Justin Steele, Javier Assad, and Hayden Wesneski in the mix for starts alongside Taillon and Hendricks, to say nothing of top prospect Cade Horton lurking at the Triple-A level.

Assuming an injury within that group doesn’t solve the logjam organically, the Cubs appear likely to either utilize a six-man rotation or simply move Wesneski to the bullpen, where he would pair with Brown to form a lethal multi-inning duo who could be used in a variety of roles to bolster a struggling relief corps. Assad also has relief experience on his resume, but it would be something of a shock to see the Cubs move the 26-year-old out of the rotation given sensational start to the season that’s seen him pitch to a 1.70 ERA in eight starts. It’s also possible that if Hendricks’s struggles continue the club could look to remove him from the rotation, although his lone relief appearance at the big league level came all the way back in 2016.

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