Cubs pitcher Hendricks wants to keep working through struggles

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks kicks the mound during the fifth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Wrigley Field. Hendricks is among MLB's leaders in wins, but he's struggled in his last few starts.

    Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks kicks the mound during the fifth inning of a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, at Wrigley Field. Hendricks is among MLB's leaders in wins, but he's struggled in his last few starts. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/5/2021 8:27 PM

Kyle Hendricks owns a 14-6 record and is one of the major-league leaders in victories. But he had a rough start to the season and is now experiencing an out-of-character ending.

In his last two starts, Hendricks has given up 6 and 8 earned runs. On Aug. 12, he was tagged with a career-worst 9 earned runs.

 

"I've got to challenge myself going forward, try and finish strong," Hendricks said after Saturday's start. "I have to just get back to executing better. Everything feels good, I'm just not executing. Timing gets off, I'm just throwing way too many bad pitches. So just got to get that focus back."

Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy was asked before Sunday's game if the Cubs would consider shutting Hendricks down.

"Not currently, I guess is the best way to answer that," Hottovy said. "With Kyle, there's some things we're working through, some things we want to stay on top of. Anytime you consider a potential shutdown, you want it to be ending on a good note.

"I think there's a lot of things we still want to accomplish and he wants to accomplish this year before we feels like, 'OK, I'm ready to turn the page on this season and be ready for next season.'"

The Cubs are cognizant of pitchers going from a 60-game season in 2020 to the full 162 and the strain it may put on their arms. That's a big reason why Adbert Alzolay is working out of the bullpen now and was Sunday's winning pitcher in relief.

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Thompson to IL:

The Cubs put Keegan Thompson on the injured list retroactive to Sept. 3 with right shoulder inflammation. The rookie didn't finish the second inning of his third major-league start on Thursday.

Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said the Cubs are hoping to get Thompson back on the mound this season. Adrian Sampson is slated to start Tuesday against the Reds.

"Anytime something's off mechanically a little bit, you tend to use your arm or your shoulder probably a little bit more than you probably should be," Hottovy said. "So there were some mechanical things that were not 100 percent to what we'd seen earlier in the year, that we tried to work through.

"I think he's going to be at a much better place when he comes back, giving the shoulder a little bit of time to rest. We can continue to work on the mechanical stuff to make him as efficient as possible and that should obviously relieve some of the stress on the shoulder."

Minor leaguers of month:

The Cubs named outfielder Nelson Velazquez and right-hander Max Bain as their minor-league player and pitcher of the month for August.

Velazquez was a fifth-round draft pick in 2017. He hit .325 with 7 home runs between Single A South Bend and Double A Tennessee. Bain, who signed with the Cubs in January after playing in an independent league, posted a 2.96 ERA in five starts at South Bend.

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