Notes: Hendricks not shutting down early

September 17th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- wants to keep taking the ball for the remainder of the season. Cubs manager David Ross plans on letting the veteran rotation leader do just that.

"I think what's important for Kyle," Ross said on Friday, "is that we do right by him and what he wants to do. And that lines up with our expectations of him."

The concept of having Hendricks call it a season arose in the aftermath of another rough outing by the starter on Thursday night. In Philadelphia, the right-hander allowed seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 17-8 loss that included an early 7-0 lead for the Cubs.

It marked the fifth time this season (and the second time in his past four turns) that Hendricks yielded at least seven earned runs in a start. He joined Jon Lieber (2000), Don Cardwell (1962), Mal Eason (1901) and Jack Taylor (1901) as the only Cubs pitchers since since at least 1901 to have five such games in the same season.

"What he's shown the last couple starts is uncharacteristic of him," Ross said. "We talked about that. He agreed. He wants to get back to establishing what he does well."

If everything goes according to plan, Hendricks would have three starts left this year.

In 30 starts this season, the 31-year-old Hendricks has posted a 4.81 ERA with 123 strikeouts against 43 walks in 170 1/3 innings. His season ERA has ballooned from 3.68 just seven starts ago, given the 9.08 ERA posted in that recent stretch.

On the year, Hendricks has an 87 ERA+, indicating he has pitched 13 percent below MLB average. That is a drastic dropoff from the past five seasons, in which the righty had a 143 OPS+ overall.

Ross was asked if he felt Hendricks' recent workload could be a culprit. The pitcher has logged 251 2/3 innings across the 2020-21 campaigns, marking the third most in the Majors. His 42 starts in that time period are tied for the MLB lead.

The manager said neither Hendricks' feedback nor the pitch data show any red flags as far as fatigue is concerned.

"We don't know, right? That could definitely be a factor," Ross said. "We can definitely take that into consideration. We can take it into consideration that it's the first time he hasn't pitched for something other than his own personal stats."

Rodríguez likely done for year
While Ross leaned on the old "never say never" adage, rookie reliever Manuel Rodríguez is likely done for the season. The Cubs placed the hard-throwing righty on the 10-day injured list Friday due to inflammation in his throwing shoulder.

"It'd be hard to build him back up even," Ross conceded. "So I would assume that's probably going to be it."

Rodríguez posted a 6.11 ERA with 16 strikeouts against 12 walks in 17 2/3 innings for the Cubs this season, but eight of his 12 earned runs allowed came in his last four outings. The righty had a 2.40 ERA prior to that recent stretch and had earned high-leverage opportunities from Ross.

"He still has a lot of growing to do," Ross said. "There was some flashes there, some greatness. ... I've seen some really good signs of a guy that can definitely help us out in the future."

Down on the farm
Outfielder Brennen Davis had two hits, including a home run, for Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. The Cubs' No. 1 prospect (ranked No. 14 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list) has gone 6-for-13 (.462 average) with three homers and five RBIs in three games since his promotion to the I-Cubs.

"I'm rooting for him. I know he's pitching for a team I'm not supposed to root for, but I'm rooting for that, for him to get 200. And I think that's a significant number in today's game, especially with how we're using starters." -- Ross, on Cardinals lefty (and former Cub) Jon Lester closing in on win No. 200