Posted on June 15, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
In the middle of a tight division race, trouble could be lurking for the Chicago Cubs. The club placed starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day Injured List on Saturday. Hendricks has been officially diagnosed with shoulder inflammation, although the Cubs haven’t given any indication regarding how serious they believe the injury is or how much time they expect him to miss.
Hendricks goes to the IL one day after getting roughed up in a start against the Dodgers. The righty gave up five runs on six hits over 4.1 innings. He was victimized by two home runs and only struck out one. The Dodgers, one of the most explosive lineups in baseball, did a great deal of damage against the changeup, which Cubs manager Joe Maddon wasn’t working for Hendricks throughout the game. However, Hendricks placed the blame elsewhere.
“My fastball wasn’t quite working, didn’t have it down in the zone enough,” Hendricks said after Friday’s game. “I was missing up when I was trying to go up too many times. Everything works off my fastball for me, so yeah, the changeup wasn’t great today, but I think it started with my fastball.”
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In any event, Hendricks going to the IL on Saturday with shoulder inflammation could explain why he struggled on Friday. However, it was still a surprise to see him land on the IL. Outside of a case of hand tendinitis in 2017, Hendricks has been able to avoid any serious injuries during his career. He’s made at least 30 starts for the Cubs in three of the last four years. Depending on how quickly he recovers from the shoulder issue, he may not reach that number this year.
Prior to Friday’s troubling start, Hendricks had an ERA of 3.00 over his first 13 starts. In his previous outing, he allowed just one run over seven innings against the Cardinals, so there were no previous signs of trouble. That makes his trip to the IL all the more puzzling and potentially concerning.
The good news for the Cubs is they won’t need to fill Hendricks’ spot in the rotation for another week. Chicago has been fortunate in the health department this season. They’ve only had one game this season started by someone other than the five pitchers in their rotation on opening day. Alas, they will likely need to reach into their rotation depth for at least one start while Hendricks is on the IL. If it ends up being a short-term absence, Tyler Chatwood is likely to make the temporary move from the bullpen to the rotation.
Of course, even if Hendricks only misses a couple of starts, his injury comes at a bad time. The Cubs have lost four of their first five games on a road trip, dropping them behind the Brewers in the NL Central. Outside of Cole Hamels, he’s undoubtedly been Chicago’s best starter this year. Considering how tight the race is in the NL Central, the Cubs need Hendricks to make as many starts as possible. That makes his sudden trip to the IL with shoulder trouble a meaningful setback for Chicago’s playoff hopes.