After talking about how to handle the final weeks of the season, Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks will make his final three starts as scheduled, manager David Ross said.
“He’ll pitch. He wants to pitch,” Ross said before Friday’s game in Milwaukee. “Feels healthy, feels great.
“We just talked about a plan going forward as far as getting him back to being who we feel like he is.”
After another rough start Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Cubs left open the possibility of scaling back Hendricks’ workload the rest of the season.
Hendricks was charged with seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies, allowing six hits and three walks while hitting two batters.
He’s pitched less than five innings in four of his last seven starts, posting a 9.08 ERA over that stretch.
“What he’s shown the last couple of starts is a little uncharacteristic of him,” Ross said. “We talked about that. He agreed and wants to get back to establishing what he does well and then pitch off that.”
Workloads have been a topic for all pitchers since spring training on the heels of the shortened 60-game 2020 season.
Hendricks, who finished third in MLB last season in innings (81 1/3), entered Friday eighth (170 1/3). He made his 30th start on Thursday, the fifth time he’s hit the 30-start plateau since 2015.
Hendricks said after Thursday’s start he feels good and downplayed the idea his workload was an issue, but nobody can be sure because of how unprecedented last season was.
“We don’t know,” Ross said. “That could definitely be a factor. We could definitely take that into consideration. We can take into consideration it's the first time he hasn’t pitched for something, other than his own personal stats.
"The team mentality is what he’s focused on right now, and also locking himself in.”
After the worst April of his career, Hendricks got on a roll and didn’t take a loss for nearly three months. From May 16 to Aug. 6, he went 11-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 16 starts, tossing 100 innings.
His season ERA has increased from 3.68 to 4.81 in those seven starts since. Entering 2021, his career ERA was 3.12.
He's set to tie his single-season career high with 33 starts, as things are currently aligned.
"I think what’s important for Kyle is that we do right by him and what he wants to do that lines up with our expectations of him," Ross said.
"If he would have come to me [Thursday] night and told me, ‘I’m fatigued, I’m tired,’ we probably would have tried to alter something and try to figure that out as an organization.
"But right now he wants to pitch, and I’m thankful for that. That’s what a professional does. He’s pitched a lot of innings here and wants to finish strong and have some good outings."
Contributing from Milwaukee: Gordon Wittenmyer