Will Kyle Hendricks or Adbert Alzolay return before the end of the season?
The Cubs initially planned on having Kyle Hendricks and Adbert Alzolay as big parts of the pitching staff in 2022.
But Alzolay has missed the entire season up until now with a strained lat muscle while Hendricks is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury.
There’s no guarantee that either pitcher will be able to make it back to Wrigley Field before the end of the 2022 campaign.
Hendricks was placed on the IL in early July with the shoulder injury after dealing with the issue a bit in June. He was shut down from throwing for several weeks and underwent an MRI Monday.
“We wanted to see what the healing was after the rest period,” Jed Hoyer said. “We’ll now look at that MRI, see where it is and decide whether or not he’s gonna make it back this year.”
Even if the MRI is clean, it would be hard to see Hendricks make a return with less than two months left in the season. He hasn’t even started a throwing program yet and it would take him roughly a month to build up enough to start games.
“The most important thing for us is that he gets healthy for next year,” Hoyer said. “The most important thing is that we know going into offseason where he is. I think he feels the same way. I’d love it if he pitches again this year but I wouldn’t want to push anything to do so.
“So we’ll get the follow-up MRI, we’ll see where he is. And then that’ll kind of give us a sense of what we do next. We definitely want to make sure we’re working his way back, if for no other reason to make sure that we know what his health is and he knows what his health is going into the offseason so he can have a really productive offseason.
“But we’ll have to determine whether or not we want to ramp him back up to pitch in games.”
Even before the injury, Hendricks has struggled to find consistency from start-to-start over the past two seasons. He has a 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 48 starts since the beginning of 2021 after posting a career 3.12 ERA and 1.10 WHIP prior to last season.
Hendricks will turn 33 this December and is signed through 2023 with a vesting option for 2024.
Alzolay, meanwhile, is dealing with a serious lat injury for the second time in his career. He missed much of the 2018 minor league season with the same injury.
The 27-year-old was solid with a 4.58 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 125.2 innings last season across 29 games (21 starts). He earned a spot in the Opening Day rotation but moved to the bullpen for the final month of the season after returning from a hamstring injury.
Alzolay threw a 1-inning live bullpen Monday in Arizona as he works his way back this season.
“Whether he’ll get back on the mound here [at Wrigley] I think will be the question,” Hoyer said. “I’d love to get him back out here at some point this year, if nothing else just to prove that he’s healthy going into the offseason.”
Alzolay was one of the organization’s top pitching prospects for years before his debut in 2019. He is still under team control through the 2026 season and if healthy, figures to slot in as either a multi-inning reliever or rotation option next year.