Kyle Hendricks threw three innings in a simulated game in Mesa this past Sunday and he’s schedule to throw a side session on Tuesday. David Ross initially said Hendricks would be sent to a warm-weather location, but Bruce Levine tweeted that the righty will be flying to Iowa in order to make a start on Thursday. If all goes well, Hendricks could be ready to return to the rotation by mid-May.
Exactly how Ross and the front office plan to work that out remains an open question. Unless we’re talking about pre-2021 Hendricks, the Cubs have more than five starters in the organization who are significantly better. My long-running theory has been that the team would try to operate with a six-man rotation or utilize piggyback starts to get everyone enough innings. Then again, Hayden Wesneski hasn’t been sharp in the early going and they might want him down in Iowa to work on things.
More than one person on Facebook has commented that The Professor could serve as the closer, which I thought was a joke before someone supported the idea by saying Trevor Hoffman worked the 9th as a changeup specialist. While I can’t imagine a future in which Hendricks is coming out of the arm barn to shut games down, it sure would be interesting.
The biggest issue isn’t his lack of velocity — something he was working to change over the winter — it’s the alarming home run numbers he’s posted over the last two seasons. More specifically, it’s that he’s giving up too many homers for a guy who doesn’t miss many bats and also saw a big dip in his groundball percentage last season. But hey, maybe overhauling his move will correct all that and have Hendricks back in vintage form.
Elsewhere on the rehab trail we find big lefty Brailyn Márquez, who is finally throwing off the mound again after a series of setbacks that have kept him sidelined for the better part of three years. After debuting in the final game of the shortened 2020 season, multiple bouts of COVID have combined with nagging shoulder injuries to keep Márquez from making any competitive pitching appearances. The Cubs actually parted ways with him briefly before bringing him back into the fold.
I tweeted yesterday about my first opportunity to see @BMarquez_103 throwing off a mound. Here's some photos from that effort. No idea of veto or pitch location but just good to see him on the mound again! #Cubs #CubsProspects #XST2023 pic.twitter.com/c5FBzhAly0
— Rich Biesterfeld (@biest22) April 22, 2023
Rich Biesterfeld caught the action at extended spring training, noting that it was impossible to say for certain how Márquez looked due to the nature of the bullpen. The fact that he’s out there at all is a good sign, so keep following Rich and the Folks at North Side Bound for more.
Speaking of which, that piece linked above also has notes on Luis Devers, Max Bain, Jackson Ferris, Drew Gray, Ed Howard, and Adan Sanchez. The latter two aren’t pitchers, but I figured it made sense to keep them in here just in case anyone wants to read more about them.
Now we just wait to see how Hendricks looks at Iowa over the next two or three starts.