Monday, August 15, 2022

Kyle Hendricks injury update: Cubs starter lands on injured list with shoulder strain

Chicago Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks left his start on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers (CHC 8, MIL 3) after three innings because of “right shoulder soreness,” according to MLB.com. Hendricks previously missed 12 days in June with a similar issue, although it’s unclear how this bout compares with that one.

On Wednesday, the Cubs placed Hendricks on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder strain, the team announced. He will have an MRI in the coming days. Righty Anderson Espinoza was called up to fill the roster spot. 

“Went out for the first warmup of the game and kind of felt it,” Hendricks told MLB.com after Tuesday’s game. “And it just set in from there. (Manager David Ross) knows me. So, he knew. He could see it. There was no point in pushing. It’s not something that’s so bad that’s going to get out of control. It’s just not great. It’s something we definitely want to get checked out and see what it’s all about.”

Hendricks’ night against the Brewers saw him allow two runs on two hits and two walks over the course of three innings. He struck out four of the 13 batters he faced. On a concerning note, Hendricks’ fastball velocity checked in at 85.7 mph, or nearly a tick below his seasonal average of 86.5 mph, according to Statcast’s data.

Hendricks, 32 years old, entered Tuesday having started 15 games this season. In those appearances, he had compiled a 4.76 ERA (90 ERA+) and a 2.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His overall numbers don’t reveal the topsy-turvy nature of his season. Hendricks has either allowed one run or fewer or five runs or more in 10 of his aforementioned 15 outings.

Hendricks, who has one guaranteed year remaining on his contract, could theoretically be an appealing trade target for a team seeking a back-end type at the deadline. It’s to be seen how much, if any, time Hendricks will miss this go around, and what that will do for his chances of being moved ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline. Even so, it’s fair to think that teams might have reservations about trading for a pitcher who has experienced shoulder problems twice in the span of a month.

Espinoza, 24, was once a highly regarded prospect before injuries and the pandemic kept him off the mound from 2017-20. He owns a 7.11 ERA in 44 1/3 Double-A innings this year. Espinoza made his MLB debut earlier this season, allowing two runs in four innings in a relief appearance against the Brewers on May 30.

The Cubs entered Wednesday with a 33-48 record on the season, putting them 13 games back in the National League Central. The Cubs are scheduled to conclude their three-game series against the Brewers on Wednesday before opening a four-game set in Los Angeles against the Dodgers on Thursday.

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