Home News Chicago Cubs move right-hander Kyle Hendricks to the bullpen

Chicago Cubs move right-hander Kyle Hendricks to the bullpen


More than a decade into his big-league career, veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks must adjust to a new role.

Hendricks will be used out of the bullpen at least through the next turn of the rotation, manager Craig Counsell said Tuesday. The Cubs aren’t ruling out using him in relief beyond this week as they continue to navigate injuries on the pitching staff and try to get Hendricks on track. The Cubs don’t currently have a starter listed for Thursday’s series finale versus the Atlanta Braves, and it will be “somewhat” of a bullpen game, Counsell said.

Over 11 seasons, Hendricks has pitched out of the bullpen in the regular season only once in 254 games when he entered in the sixth inning on July 7, 2016, against Atlanta and pitched two scoreless innings.

“Our pitching is precarious enough right now that we can’t (be) committing to anything long-term, we are going day by day with a lot of this right now and I think we should,” Counsell said. “The goal still is to get Kyle on track and get him back in the rotation. That’s absolutely what I’d like to do.

“He wants to do what he can to help the team. I mean, that never wavers for Kyle. He doesn’t have to be happy with it, but I think he still knows that he’s going to do whatever he can to help the Cubs win games.”

Opposing lineups have torched Hendricks, 34, this season the second and third times through the order. Hendricks’ numbers have been particularly ghastly the third time he faces a lineup, with hitters combining for a .667 average, .720 on-base percentage and 1.222 OPS.

The Cubs can’t survive that level of struggle, even from a pitcher with Hendricks’ track record. President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer described Hendricks as an ultimate pro who understood why the Cubs are changing his role.

“He’s had some success the first time through the order and then after that, it’s gotten pretty dicey so I think this gives him a chance to work through some stuff,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “There’s a chance he continues that trend and has success there, but there’s some signs of success in there. There’s some good things we see, but obviously, he hasn’t been able to put it together yet and he knows that.”

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks (28) pitches during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, May 17, 2024, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks faces the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, May 17, 2024, at Wrigley Field. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)

Nobody with the Cubs would have envisioned this as a possibility entering the season, but Hendricks’ inability to give his team a chance to be in almost every game he started became too much to overlook. The Cubs hope pitching in relief will help him get back on track.

“Our job is to win as many games as we possibly can, but as a human, I mean, I can’t imagine a better teammate, period,” Hoyer said. “I can’t imagine someone’s more accountable. And this guy’s been sort of a metronome for nine or 10 years, and he’s pitched some of the biggest games in club history.

“I think he knows how we feel about him personally as an organization. I think he also understands that we have jobs to do and so there’s a nice balance there. The relationship is obviously very good and the dialogue is very open.”

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