The transformation of right-hander Kyle Hendrix has been a mainstay of his big league success.
So it’s no coincidence that the pitch was at the root of closing the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night after a nearly two-week layoff for the pitcher.
A dead arm and shoulder fatigue had sidelined Hendrix, but time off resolved the issue. After a shutout last month against San Diego, Hendricks played more than five innings and conceded a run for not running a batsman and dismissing six batsmen.
But the Cubs lost in a 12–5 loss to Hendrix, eight consecutive defeats of the season. The bullpen exploded after his departure, leaving all 12 runs in the last four innings. Manager David Ross needed three pitchers to get through the seventh inning, when the Padres twice loaded bases, with none as he took 12 batsmen to the plate in a six-run, go-ahead inning. Was sent.
“I feel 100% back to normal,” Hendricks said. “A little definitely tired, maybe a little bit at the end. I left that pitch and it was probably a bad pitch for me. But overall I’ve been in good health and stamina for a while. Felt real good. My stuff and my mechanics felt really good so I have to get back to a routine now and make that pitch count.”
Right-hander Caleb Killian will start on Wednesday against the Padres, Ross announced after the loss. The Cubs would have to have someone on the injured list to recall the rookie as Killian has not spent at least 15 days in the minors since the team picked him.
The Cubs’ melee offense ruined Wilson Contreras’ stellar performance, scoring a double and his 10th career multi-home run game.
Hendrix surrendered a leadoff double in the sixth, leading to a mound attack from Ross. Before the innings, he had discussed in the dugout that Hendrix would bat in the innings. Coming into the game, Hendrix and the Cubs felt comfortable throwing him in the 85-pitch range. But, with 78 pitches on and a five-run lead, Ross went into the bullpen after the double.
“I looked up and it looked like he was running out of gas,” Ross said.
A slump in the bullpen thwarted Hendrix’s momentum-building debut. Of the five relievers used – Chris Martin, Scott Efros, Mychal Givens, Brandon Hughes and Eric Stout – only Hughes did not allow a run. Givens failed to record an out in the seventh, running three Padres and relegating with four runs allowed.
Ross said of the bullpen, “It’s hard to put your finger on it and sometimes it just ruins their night.” “They must have been really nice. I’m not going to sit here making excuses or anything. They weren’t good. They’ll be back there tomorrow night.”
Hendrix has been crucial to being right after his ups and downs at the start of last season.
“Kyle was fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for more,” Contreras said. “He fought. He executed every pitch that was called for.”
His change appears to be the key to unlocking better continuity, and the Cubs need to pursue it. He made 40% of the changes on Tuesday, his highest pitch % starts this year at 12%. He had not thrown a high percentage in a start since 16 September. Hendrix hit nine rounds on the Padres’ 17 swings against his change.
“There are a few things that we tried to identify in his downtime to identify what he is,” Ross said. “I want him to continue to do that and let the other teams figure out what the difference is, but I thought he was back in a lot of ways to success this year.”
Hendrix is known for how often he works in a mound between beginnings and values. But “for a guy who wants to throw a lot, it’s hard at times,” needs proper rest, Hotovi said. Based on days off last week, the Cubs had targeted Hendrix to return on Tuesday, considering Sunday’s series finale at Yankee Stadium.
The Cubs opted not to put Hendrix on the injured list because of the rotation flexibility and optimism with the appointed days that he would not need to be sidelined for very long. Had he needed his active roster spot, the Cubs might have taken a different route to get the rest he needed for his arm and shoulder to bounce back to Hendrix.
“Once we got to the point where it felt like it was recovering well and it wasn’t taking much time to loosen up, we were ready to push it with some bullpen and stuff, Hotovi said. “And once he got to the bullpen, we can get the pitch data or you can go further to get a clearer picture of where he is.
“We were hoping there was a chance he would come back a little sooner, but in the end, I think we made the right decision with preparing him.”
Bringing Hendricks back after the loss of three experienced starters to IL is a boost. Wade Miley’s left shoulder was examined on Monday and he has been advised rest. He will then be reevaluated and given a throwing schedule. The Cubs were confident that he had fully recovered from a shoulder strain when he came out of IL on Friday and was feeling well until a pitch to Josh Donaldson.
Hottovy said the Cubs should have a better timetable for Miley’s return next week. He anticipates that Miley will need a deliberate ramp up to hit all the checkpoints. Hottovi called it a “blurred line” as to whether Miley regressed her previous shoulder injury or suffered a new injury elsewhere in her shoulder.
“It’s in a similar area, but he feels it at different points,” Hotovi said. “One he sensed it in his expansion and then another might be when he’s going into an outward rotation. So, we have to let that area cool down and figure out what we’re really dealing with. Huh.”