Kyle Hendricks’ next start could be with Cubs at Wrigley Field
Kyle Hendricks is nearing a return to the big leagues.
The veteran righty made another rehab start with the Iowa Cubs on Saturday, pitching 6 innings of 1-run ball, with 6 strikeouts and allowing 5 hits and no walks. It’s Hendricks’ 5th rehab start of the year, his longest so far and manager David Ross indicated he could be ready to join the Cubs’ rotation.
“I don’t know how he is today, just making sure he’s not sore,” Ross said. “And then try to look at a slot where we might be able to line him up in the rotation given everything is healthy.”
That could come next weekend against the Reds.
The Cubs have been operating with a four-man rotation since they optioned Hayden Wesneski to the minor leagues last week, opting to carry that extra arm in the bullpen to help cover innings for a pitching staff that had been stretched thin. They were able to use just four pitchers in their rotation because they had a pair of off days in a 5-day stretch that has allowed them to keep their pitchers on normal rest, but that won’t be the case in a few days.
The Cubs will trot out Drew Smyly, Marcus Stroman and then Jameson Taillon against the Mets, all on normal rest because of the Monday off day, but the question becomes: who starts Friday? They could opt to go with Steele on normal rest and start Hendricks on Saturday, giving Hendricks an extra day off. Or they could give the extra day to Steele and start Hendricks on Friday on a normal 5-day routine.
“We’d like to get him back if everything went well and I know the line [in his last outing] was pretty darn good,” Ross said. “We’ll see how he feels and see how many days rest he may need and we’re gonna need a starter coming up here soon.”
The Cubs wanted to make sure Hendricks was fully built up before they brought him back — Taillon came back from a left groin strain and wasn’t fully built up, limiting him on a pitch count and in turn shortening the bullpen. Having Hendricks fully stretched out at least gives them the safety net that they won’t be restricted and potentially tax their bullpen. Regardless, Hendricks is expected to be back in Chicago this week with the big-league team and then join the rotation soon.