Home Sports Cubs demote Kyle Hendricks, last remaining member of 2016 World Series team, to bullpen amid brutal start

Cubs demote Kyle Hendricks, last remaining member of 2016 World Series team, to bullpen amid brutal start

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MAY 17: Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the fourth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on May 17, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
It’s been a tough season for Kyle Hendricks. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

The last remaining member of the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship team is heading toward an ignominious end to his career at Wrigley Field.

Veteran starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks is being demoted to the bullpen amid a terrible start, manager Craig Counsell told reporters Tuesday. via Patrick Mooney of The Athletic. On Thursday, a regular spot in Hendricks’ rotation, the Cubs will play a bullpen game.

The writing was on the wall for Hendricks after his previous start. The 11-year veteran’s ERA rose to 10.57 after allowing eight runs (seven earned) and 11 hits in a 9-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Counsell didn’t seem enthusiastic about demoting Hendricks after that start. via El Atlético:

“We have to look at the start a little closer and see what’s going on,” Counsell said. “We are in a tough patch right now. We have eight pitchers on the injured list. We have to continue doing everything we can to help Kyle through the situation. I think that’s going to be very important here. “In the stretch we are in, we are going to need innings.”

Hendricks, who is 34 years old, will hit free agency after this season, in which he will earn $16.5 million. He currently leads the MLB in earned runs allowed, with 36 in seven starts. The next three pitchers on the list (Reid Detmers, Aaron Civale and Miles Mikolas) have made 10 starts.

The peripherals also do not indicate that Hendricks is a victim of bad luck. His FIP is 6.93. His xERA is 6.22. Statcast says hitters should hit .316 against him. His 10.57 ERA and .362 batting average are more extreme than those numbers, but the whole package looks like one of the worst starters in MLB.

It’s a sudden decline for Hendricks, who for years had defied the speed-obsessed trend that increasingly dominates baseball. His average fastball velocity hasn’t topped 90 mph since 2016 (his 87.9 mph this season is actually his highest mark in that span), but he’s pitched a solid career through command, deception and cunning of a veteran.

That combination has failed him so far this season. The Cubs probably hope he does better in the bullpen, since he’s really coming under fire when he faces batters multiple times. He has allowed a line of .254/.302/.424 when he faced hitters the first time, with those numbers rising to .377/.397/.672 the second time in the order and a surprising .667/. 720/. 1,222 the third.

Regardless of how this season plays out, Hendricks will remain a popular figure among Cubs fans in the long run, like any key member of the 2016 team. Hendricks led the MLB with a 2.13 ERA that season and followed it up with an ERA of 1.42 in the playoffs.

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