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24 for ’24: What are the Cubs expecting from Kyle Hendricks in 2024 and beyond?

2 months agoAndy Martinez

As the Cubs embark on a new campaign with a new manager (Craig Counsell) at the helm, we answer 24 of the most pressing questions for the 2024 season. 

Kyle Hendricks isn’t the fledgling, front-of-the-rotation-potential starter that he was even four years ago.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a big role to play for the Cubs in 2024.

The 34-year-old was a stabilizing force in the Cubs’ rotation in 2023, a role that seemed like a stretch a year ago at this time. Last spring, Hendricks was just happy to be throwing a ball after a capsular tear in his right shoulder ended his 2022 season and kept him sidelined into the 2023 season.

He returned and immediately looked like vintage Hendricks, posting a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts and 137 innings. As he enters the final year of his extension, the hope is a semblance of that steady presence can emerge and can lead to a final contract that would see him play out his career with the Cubs.

“I thought his [2023] season was exceptional given truly I didn’t have a great sense of what we were gonna get out of him,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference last October. “He was confident going into Spring Training and throughout the winter that he was going to get back and be old Kyle Hendricks. And he did.”


The Cubs don’t need him to be the team’s ace — homegrown lefty Justin Steele has emerged into that role. They don’t even expect him to be a top 2 pitcher in the rotation — Shota Imanaga and Jameson Taillon likely will make starts to open the year before Hendricks. But they know if he can stay healthy, he can still be a starter they can feel good about whenever his turn in the rotation is up — and he’ll serve as veteran leader that any pitcher can turn to.

“What’s most important is that he is a very approachable guy that makes it easy on others and from a manager’s standpoint,” Craig Counsell said. “We all like that and he’s good at what he does. Those are guys that you lean on and when his day comes around, you feel really good about it.”

Just don’t tell Hendricks that the Cubs don’t need him to be a top-end starter. He’s still targeting lofty goals like 200 innings for 2024.

“It’s definitely a goal of mine,” Hendricks said after his first spring outing. “It just can be so valuable, still. Wearing down a bullpen throughout the course of a year, it’s tough. You want to be your strongest there at the end of the season and the more load we can take on as starters, it’s always going to pay dividends there at the end of the year for our bullpen.”

That’s what the Cubs will be looking at with Hendricks in 2024: for the righty to go out each time and give them a chance to compete. If that’s the case, a year from now, the Cubs could be looking at him once again to be a factor in their rotation. 

“The starters I’ve been [around] it’s always like 30 starts or 200 innings, is kinda like [the goal]. But I think my goal for Kyle is plus 30 starts,” Counsell said. “That’s going to be a good thing for the Cubs if he takes the ball 30-plus times. And that means we’re gonna get really close to that [innings] number and if we do, we’re in good shape.”

24 for ’24 series

What are the Cubs expecting from Kyle Hendricks in 2024 and beyond?
What role will Drew Smyly fill on the 2024 Cubs?
How will Jameson Taillon fare in Year 2 with Cubs?
How will Shota Imanaga handle the adjustment to MLB?
Who will DH for the Cubs?
Who is the Cubs’ fifth starter?
Will defense once again be the Cubs’ strength?
Can Seiya Suzuki pick up where he left off? 
What are the Cubs’ long-term plans at first base?
Have the Cubs done enough to address their left-handed hitting?
Will Justin Steele replicate his stellar 2023 season?

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