Cubs Move Struggling Starter to the Bullpen

After struggling to perform as a starter this season, the Chicago Cubs have finally decided to move Kyle Hendricks to the bullpen.
The Cubs are moving RHP Kyle Hendricks to the bullpen.
The Cubs are moving RHP Kyle Hendricks to the bullpen. / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Cubs have exceeded expectations with a 27-22 record through their first 49 games. Strong pitching has played a big role in that success as the Cubs' starters currently rank seventh in the Majors with a 3.33 ERA. Having said that, not every starting arm has done its part.

Kyle Hendricks, who's been with the franchise for 10 years, has been horrific more often than not when he's stepped on the mound this season. The former 2011 eighth-rounder's struggles have gotten to the point where the Cubs have officially decided to diminish his role for the time being.

Cubs News: Kyle Hendricks Demoted to Bullpen

Cubs manager Craig Counsell announced on Tuesday that Hendricks has been moved to the team's bullpen, per The Athletic's Patrick Mooney. Counsell didn't elaborate on how long the veteran will serve as a reliever, only that he'll be in the bullpen "for the time being."

People would've laughed if you said that Hendricks would be in the bullpen before the 2024 season began. The 34-year-old veteran is a Chicago fan favorite who's started 254 games for the franchise since debuting way back in 2014. He's recorded double-digit wins in four of the last nine seasons and even tallied a pair of top-10 NL Cy Young finishes.

Having said that, the writing has been on the wall for the last few weeks. Hendricks is off to an abysmal start to the season, going 0-4 with a 10.57 ERA and 1.989 WHIP through seven starts. Furthermore, the 14.7 hits, 2.9 homers, and 3.2 walks he's allowing per nine innings are, by far, the worst marks of his 11-year career.

Hendricks is also set to become a free agent at the end of the season, so the last thing Cubs fans want is for his (potential) final season with the team to be a disaster.

It'll be interesting to see how Hendricks handles his new role. Despite having over a decade of MLB experience, the Newport Beach, CA native has only made one relief appearance. That instance came when he pitched two scoreless innings with a strikeout in a 4-3 Cubs loss to the Atlanta Braves on July 7, 2016.

Interestingly enough, the Cubs are in the middle of a series against the Braves and Counsell has revealed that Thursday's finale will be a bullpen affair. In other words, even though Hendricks is now a reliever, there's still a chance that he could start on Thursday due to his experience.

Hopefully, Hendricks can bounce back quickly so that he can rejoin the starting rotation and help the Cubs win their first divisional title since 2020.

The chances of that happening look good considering that FanDuel Sportsbook currently lists Chicago as having the second-best NL Central odds (+140), putting it just behind the Milwaukee Brewers (+120).

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