Cubs News: The Professor is not in session yet
Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Cubs News: The Professor is not in session yet

by - Staff Writer -

Kyle Hendricks is officially the last Cub left from the 2016 World Series-winning club that brought the Cubs their first championship in over a century. However, the status of his future is currently in doubt. Hendricks is still recovering from an injury and has not pitched in the big leagues since July 5th last season.

The Cubs originally acquired Hendricks in a trade in 2012 that sent Cubs veteran Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers to bolster the farm system and build towards the future. Hendricks was never a highly regarded prospect, but he has always been able to pitch — and he was a significant factor as any pitcher in the Cubs’ turnaround.

Hendricks made his MLB debut in 2014 and has spent all nine years with the Chicago Cubs. He has never been a pitcher known for his velocity, but instead, his impeccable command has kept him on the mound despite his average fastball remanning below 90 miles per hour. The first eight years of Hendricks’ career saw him with a positive win/loss record, including four seasons in double digits and has had an ERA below four in seven seasons and below three in three seasons. He has been remarkably consistent, pitching over 30 starts in five seasons and devouring innings in the process.

Hendricks nearly won a Cy Young in 2016, which also was the year he became immortalized in Cubs history. The California native threw 190 innings, won 16 games, struck out 170, walked just 44, and led the MLB with an ERA of 2.13. Not to mention, he dominated in the playoffs. Hendricks started Game 6 of the NLCS against Clayton Kershaw, where the Cubs punched their ticket to the World Series. Hendricks delivered 7.1 innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits and striking out six.

In the World Series, he pitched nine innings and allowed just one earned run — including game seven of the World Series. He has started 12 postseason games and only given up more than three runs once, and has allowed zero or one run six times.

He became known for not only his command on the mound but also his poise — never letting his emotions get out of control, much less noticed ever. He was the only member of the World Series core to receive an extension, and has watched every member of that team leave the organization — but he still calls Chicago home.

Hendricks has battled injuries and faced his struggles over the last two seasons, and his rehab for a capsular tear in his shoulder. His recovery has him scheduled to join the team in May or June — and for the first time since his debut in 2014, the Cubs finally have some depth in their starting rotation. His future as a mainstay at the top of the Cubs rotation is in doubt.

The Cubs and David Ross have credited Hendricks for being a good resource for young pitchers, and the Cubs are flooded with those types of arms now. It is a good bet to say that Hendricks will be starting for the Cubs whenever he is healthy enough to in 2023 — and his contract expires after the 2023 season with a vesting option for 2024.

It is unknown what is next for Hendricks after this season. Will this career be over? Will he re-sign with the Cubs? Will he explore his career elsewhere? Would he make a transition to the bullpen?

Those answers will come eventually, but as it is right now, Hendricks is a staple of this roster in 2023 — just like he has been since 2014, and became a Cubs hero for in 2016.

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