Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks and outfielder Seiya Suzuki are both spending opening day weekend on the injured list. Hendricks was placed on the 10-day IL per his rehab assignment from tearing his capsule in his shoulder last season. At the same time, Suzuki was placed on the 15-day IL progressing from his oblique strain. Both players have been key contributors to the Cubs’ success last season, so their absence will undoubtedly have an impact on the team’s performance to start the season.
Hendricks has been a reliable starter for the Cubs, boasting a 3-1 record and a 3.62 ERA in six starts last season. His absence means that the Cubs will have to rely on their other starting pitchers to step up and fill the void. Currently, that void will be filled by righty Hayden Wesneski. Wesneski had an impressive spring training boasting a 2.12 era with 3 wins and a loss striking out 22 batters over 17 innings. Chicago has some talented arms in their rotation. However, Hendricks’ consistency and ability to eat innings was sorely missed last year. The Cubs will have to hope that the right-hander can continue to progress and get back on the mound in early May. What does that mean for Wesneski? If he has early success, he could challenge Justin Steele or Drew Smyly for their spot in the rotation. Hendricks is the last player from the 2016 World Series team currently on the Cubs roster. Could this be his last year in Cubbie Blue? Could Hendricks play a role at the trade deadline? He is scheduled to throw to live hitters next week, and a rehab start following shortly after.
On the other hand, Suzuki was one of the Cubs’ most exciting players last season. The Japanese outfielder has impressed with his bat, hitting .262 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI last year. Suzuki’s speed and defensive prowess have also been valuable assets for the Cubs. Losing him will be a blow to the team’s outfield depth and offensive firepower to start the season. Suzuki is making very promising progress, but the Cubs are sticking to their rehab plan. Taking it slow and steady is the right thing to do with a long season ahead. Outfielders Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ, and Miles Mastrobuoni will have to take on more responsibility with Suzuki out of the lineup. We could also see Patrick Wisdom, David Bote, and Trey Mancini roam the outfield while Suzuki finishes his rehab.