Kyle Hendricks was retired after three innings Tuesday night in Milwaukee with right shoulder pain, and the first question Chicago Cubs manager David Ross was asked was how Hendricks was feeling.
“Um, I mean, I think that’s a weird question to ask, right?” Ross replied. “We took him out. He’s just a little tender.
It wasn’t a weird question. It was, however, an odd response from Ross.
Hendricks’ health is important to the Cubs as they try to salvage something from this brutal season. And as a fan favorite and one of the only remaining players from the 2016 championship team, Hendricks’ status is important to many who still tune in to the Cubs as they play the ropes in second period.
So if Ross is going to get upset over a harmless question from the team-owned network, it’s going to make for a tough second half for the third-year manager.
And it turns out Hendricks was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a pulled right shoulder, leaving him out of action until the All-Star break.
The Cubs then beat the Brewers 2-1 at American Family Field to win their fourth straight series and headed to Los Angeles on a high as they entered a four-game set against the Dodgers.
Despite the modest hot streak, the Cubs are 34-48 and on course to drop 95 games, and the only suspense left is who will be dealt before the August 2 trade deadline. Once Willson Contreras is gone, the reasons to watch become even shorter.
Here’s another weird question: Does Ross realize how easy it was for him in Chicago?
The White Sox’s struggles and the ongoing Tony La Russa saga have taken up most of the bandwidth in town, leaving the Cubs playing second fiddle to their Crosstown rivals. It’s a good thing for Ross, who hasn’t had to deal with the daily scrutiny that La Russa faces.
Ross’ job for the remaining three months will be to develop young players, get closer to .500 by the end of September and give fans reason to believe the organization is heading in the right direction. He received a virtual bye this season because no one expected the Cubs to do much. But as of June 14, 2021, the Cubs have a .374 (67-112) winning percentage, which is unacceptable by anyone’s standards.
In fact, it’s even worse than Dale Sveum’s .392 winning percentage (127-197) in the first two seasons of the original reconstruction in 2012-13, when the Cubs were trying to lose to get a better starting position. repechage. Sveum never really had a chance and was fired in 2013 after allegedly being too hard on young talent, especially shortstop Starlin Castro.
When the Cubs started winning under Joe Maddon in 2015, fans thought they would never have to suffer a losing streak like 2012-13 again. How wrong they were.
Ross has no worries about getting the Sveum treatment from Cubs management. He’s Hoyer’s friend and he just signed an extension in spring training. Ross’s job is perhaps safer than any manager outside of La Russa.
But that doesn’t mean he’s been absolved by Cubs fans for the team’s fate. Ditto for pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, whose starters finished the first half Tuesday with a 4.95 ERA and a 17-32 record. The starters’ 5.85 ERA in June was the second-worst in baseball, trailing only the Detroit Tigers’ 6.04. The injuries of Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley and Drew Smyly can be blamed.
But Stroman wasn’t consistent when he was healthy, and Miley, picked up on waivers from the Cincinnati Reds, wasn’t healthy enough to know if he would have made a difference.
The game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles will be another stark reminder of the kind of team the Cubs should have been – always in contention and often dominant. It is a large market team that acts as such. The Cubs can’t even compete in one of baseball’s weakest divisions.
But at least it’s half done, so maybe the worst is really behind them.
Can the Cubs have a second half that creates a sense of optimism for 2023, or will it be one step forward and three steps back the rest of the way?
Weird question, I know.