Kyle Hendricks struggles again in 5th start this season for the Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Hendricks thinks he is moving in the right direction. He also knows he has to be better — and soon.

Hendricks lasted just four innings in the Chicago Cubs’ 6-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday, continuing a rough start to the season for the 34-year-old right-hander. He struck out five and walked none, but he was charged with four runs and six hits.

“It’s just tough with the results not being there,” he said. “It’s a results-based game. It’s obviously not good on that end, but got to take the positives in the right direction. Just got to put it together here.”

Chicago had won six of eight before the finale of the four-game series, but Hendricks’ performance is a growing concern. He has a 12.00 ERA through five starts, surrendering 28 runs and 37 hits in 21 innings.

“I thought there were some positive signs,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “There was no walks. There’s five strikeouts. I do think that he limited the hard contact for the most part, but they strung together a good rally and we’re still looking at four runs on the board after four innings.”

Hendricks worked a perfect first inning on Sunday, but Jesús Sánchez hit a 460-foot drive to center for a solo homer in the second.

Miami opened the fourth with four consecutive singles on five pitches, producing two runs. A fielder’s choice grounder for Emmanuel Rivera drove in another run, giving the Marlins a 4-1 lead.

“Just got beat five pitches in a row there, first pitch hunting, mostly fastballs there,” Hendricks said. “But still executed a lot. Mentally more aggressive, on the glove, just put us in a bad spot.”

Hendricks threw a season-low 56 pitches, 44 for strikes. He hasn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his five starts.

Hendricks said his mental side is his biggest challenge at the moment.

“Mechanics feel good. It’s more intent-based,” he said. “It comes mentally. When I’m locked on the glove and aggressive, the mechanics sync up. They’re on time. When the thoughts kind of just aren’t like that, then that’s when I’m missing.”

Hendricks, who is eligible for free agency after this season, is the last roster link to Chicago’s 2016 World Series championship. He was acquired in a July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers.

Over a five-year stretch from 2016 to 2020, Hendricks went 54-39 with a 3.00 ERA and four complete games. He struck out 668 batters and issued 168 walks in 787 innings.

He went 14-7 in 32 starts in 2021, but his ERA ballooned to 4.77 and he surrendered 200 hits in 181 innings. He was sidelined by a capsular tear in his right shoulder in July 2022 and then began last season on the injured list as he continued his rehab.

Hendricks returned to the mound last May and finished last year with a 3.74 ERA in 24 starts. But he hasn’t been able to pick up where he left off.

“Some good steps. Some positive steps,” Counsell said. “Some good innings for sure. … But we need better results, frankly.”



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