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Right-hander Kyle Hendricks, the last remaining member of the Chicago Cubs' 2016 World Series championship team, is being moved to the bullpen, manager Craig Counsell announced Tuesday (per the Chicago Tribune). Chicago will go with a bullpen game against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday. That was Hendricks' next scheduled start.

"The goal still is to get Kyle on track and get him back in the rotation," Counsell said (per the Chicago Tribune).

It has been a difficult season for the 34-year-old Hendricks. He has allowed an MLB-leading 36 earned runs in seven starts and 30 2/3 innings, giving him a 10.57 ERA. He's surrendered 10 home runs in those 30 2/3 innings and opponents are hitting .362/.411/.638 against him. Last time out, the Pittsburgh Pirates tagged Hendricks for eight runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Kyle Hendricks
CHC • SP • #28
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Never a hard-thrower, Hendricks is averaging 87.8 mph with his sinker this year, which is his best velocity since averaging 88.1 mph with the same pitch in 2016. The problem is command more than anything. Given his velocity, Hendricks operates with a small margin of error, and he's simply making too many mistakes with his fastball and typically reliable changeup.

Hendricks has made only one relief appearance in his big league career: July 7, 2016, against the Braves. He threw two scoreless innings and he only pitched in relief that day because he was not scheduled to start again before the All-Star break, so the Cubs had him come out of the bullpen on his throw day to lighten the load on the rest of the relief crew.

A year ago, Hendricks threw 137 innings with a 3.74 ERA in his return from shoulder surgery, and he looked like himself in terms of limited hard contact. He pitched well enough that the Cubs exercised their $16.5 million club option to bring him back in 2024. The Cubs originally acquired Hendricks from the Texas Rangers for Ryan Dempster at the 2012 trade deadline.

Ben Brown and Hayden Wesneski are the most likely candidates to step into the rotation to replace Hendricks. Brown has a 3.57 ERA in 35 1/3 innings spanning four starts and seven long relief appearances this year. Wesneski has a 1.91 ERA in 28 1/3 innings across three starts and five relief appearances. Both are on Chicago's active roster.

Javier Assad, Shota Imanaga, Justin Steele, and Jameson Taillon are the four starting pitchers in the rotation at the moment. Hendricks has a 10.57 ERA in his seven starts and Cubs starters have a 2.41 ERA in the other 41 games. By and large, Chicago's rotation has been a strength this season.

The Cubs enter play Tuesday with a 26-22 record, though they've lost five of their last seven games. They are 1.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, Counsell's old team, in the NL Central.