Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks keeps humility and perspective after re-entering starting rotation

The Chicago Cubs have had their starting rotation bitten by the injury bug.

Multiple times, to be more specific.

Jordan Wicks, Justin Steele, Ben Brown and more have all gone from the rotation to the injured list. This opened the door for Kyle Hendricks, the last remaining connection to the 2016 World Series title team, to bring himself back into the starting rotation.

Hendricks didn't balk at the opportunity. He pitched his best outing of the season in a 6-5 win against the Giants on Wednesday, throwing 5.2 innings, allowing one run and striking out eight batters in an outing that showed how Hendricks' perspective is highlighting his process.

"I tried to keep it so simple," Hendricks said. "It maybe was like a dream in a way, but I truly tried to lock in." 

The outing dropped Hendricks' season ERA to 7.46. At the end of April through five appearances, his ERA ballooned to 12.00.

The Cubs moved Hendricks from the starting rotation to the bullpen on May 23. That started a process for Hendricks to start from square one.

"I was just so far from who I was as a pitcher that I really had to commit to my process, commit to getting better every day, almost resetting and restarting a career," Hendricks said.

On Wednesday, the lessons Hendricks took from the past month paid off.

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 19: Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on June 19, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

He pitched the longest outing of the season so far and he showed he's ready to resume his duties in the starting rotation, where he's been for the better part of a decade with the Cubs. 

It wasn't an easy month, but the move to the bullpen gave him the opportunity to aim to consistently improve.

"He pitched really, really well," Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. "It's not a difference for Kyle, but the great thing about Kyle is that he never stops trying to figure it out and he's open to changing things, getting better."

Hendricks said he leaned on his teammates in the bullpen, who offered lessons to him.

"Those guys taught me so much down there," Hendricks said. "I feel like I got better just sitting down there and hanging out and talking to them."

Still, it wasn't long before the Cubs needed a pitcher in their rotation due to injury.

Enter Hendricks, but what he didn't leave behind was the perspective from his time in the bullpen and the perspective on why he was getting back into the rotation.

"I wouldn't have been in this spot," Hendricks said. "We had guys throwing way better than me. Guys that were doing their thing. It's super unfortunate for them to go down, but I know they're going to be back soon. They're going to be a huge part of this team. I'm super excited about that."

Counsell said the way Hendricks handled a low point of his career was an example of what makes a MLB player's mindset. 

"That's how you get to this place, that's how you keep going," Counsell said. "It's just that mindset."


Ian Happ and Dansby Swanson hit back-to-back homers as the Cubs hold off the Giants 6-5

Ian Happ hit a 442-foot homer, Dansby Swanson made it back-to-back longballs and the Chicago Cubs hung on to beat the San Francisco Giants 6-5 on Wednesday.