What’s wrong with Kyle Hendricks? The Cubs’ ace searching for answers

What’s wrong with Kyle Hendricks? The Cubs’ ace searching for answers

Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Hendricks allowed seven earned runs in the Cubs’ 17-8 loss to the Phillies on Thursday. The right-hander owns a has a 8.21 ERA over his last eight starts.

PHILADELPHIA – The 2021 season has been quite the rollercoaster for Cubs’ ace Kyle Hendricks. After a rough start to the season, he went on a tear and was one of the best starters in the National League. But things have not gone well for him since the trade deadline as he’s looked like a shell of himself.

It appeared as if Hendricks would have an easier road in his start in the Cubs’ 17-8 loss on Thursday. After throwing a pair of scoreless innings to start the game, his offense gifted him seven runs in the third inning, giving the Cubs a commanding 7-0 lead.

But that was the last thing that went the Cubs way in the game as Hendricks would have a long night from that point on. Things went south for the Cubs’ right hander in the fourth inning.

“I just have to be much better for this team going forward,” Hendricks said after the loss. “We got two weeks left. It’s just working on my pitches, get the confidence back a little bit.”

Hendricks’ rocky inning began with a lead-off double by Bryce Harper before drilling the next batter, J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies would then slowly begin to chip away at the lead as Andrew McCutchen’s RBI-double made it a 7-2 lead.

Things would continue to spiral for Hendricks as he allowed another base hit to Brad Miller and hit Freddy Galvis with a pitch to put more runners on base.

“Yeah, just just trying to make better pitches overall,” Hendricks said. “Mechanically, I still feel good at certain points. I just get out of it. Timing wise. But really the moral of the story is too many bad pitches.”

Hendricks was reeling and wasn’t able to find his command when he needed it. Even pinch-hitter Matt Joyce, who entered the at-bat hitting a paltry .096 this season, worked a walk against him to load the bases.

“Very uncharacteristic of Kyle,” manager David Ross said. “It’s like I was watching a different pitcher out there tonight. I didn’t see the guy that normally is aggressive with the fastball to both sides. Just looked like he kind of lost the feel.”

And it would cost him as Odubel Herrera lined an RBI-single into right field to score two runs, bringing the Phillies closer before Jean Segura’s RBI-groundout made it 7-5. Manager David Ross would remove Hendricks from the game, but reliever Michael Rucker much luck either as Realmuto tied the game with a two-run single, closing the book on Hendricks’ night.

The Phillies sent 12 batters to the plate in their seven-run fourth inning. It was the largest lead blown since the Cubs blew a 7-0 lead against the Brewers in a 15-7 loss on June 30.

Hendricks finished the game allowing seven earned runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings in the loss. He walked three batters and struck out one.

The last eight weeks have been challenging for the Cubs’ ace and after a long run of success from May to July, August and September haven’t been as kind. The Cubs’ right-hander has a 8.21 ERA in his last eight starts.

It’s been pinpoint command that has been Hendricks’ calling card throughout his career, but the walks have become a concern recently. He’s walked 17 batters over his last eight starts.

“Walking guys. Hitting a couple. You know, we’ve seen a little bit of that from time to time on the backside of his season,” Ross said. “Just that one inning where it kind of derails him a little bit. Yeah, just not his best night.”

“I feel good. I feel healthy,” Hendricks said. “I’m in a good spot, so I’m really happy about that. Just making a lot of bad pitches, leaving it over the plate. So just got to have a little bit better focus and get back to the bottom of the zone.”

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