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Chicago Cubs manager David Ross began to piece together his starting rotation on Tuesday as he announced that starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks will be the team’s Opening Day starter on April1 when the team opens the season Cheap Chicago Cubs Jerseys against the Pittsburgh Pirates. For Hendricks, this only solidifies that he is the ace of the Cubs starting rotation. After spending past seasons with veterans Jon Lester and Yu Darvish in the starting rotation, Hendricks never appeared to be firmly cemented as the team’s ace.
No longer with the team are Darvish and Lester and that means that Hendricks is the anchor of the Cubs’ starting rotation. Hendricks was the 2020 opening day starting pitcher for the Cubs as well. During the 2020 season, Hendricks posted a 2.88 ERA/3.55 FIP/0.996 WHIP in 81.1 innings pitched.
Entering the 2021 season, there is no question that Hendricks is the only certainty in the Cubs’ rotation. What will be an interesting watch this season is if Hendricks pops up in trade rumors. The speculation during the off-season was that the Cubs were potentially talking about a mega-trade with the New York Mets that centered around Hendricks and third baseman Kris Bryant.
As the Cubs’ roster is currently constructed, Hendricks is one of the more valuable pieces that the team has in terms of a potential trade. Between his team-friendly contract and consistent performance, Hendricks likely will be a trade candidate for teams in July in the event that the Cubs become sellers. A trade of Hendricks would certainly expedite the Cubs’ efforts to rebuild their farm system with talented prospects.
Of course, the Cubs can also decide that Hendricks is the pitcher that the team will need to build their next contending team around. Entering the 2021 season, Hendricks leads a starting rotation for the Cubs that is filled with question marks.
Behind Hendricks, The Cubs have veterans Kyle Davies and Jake Arrieta penciled into the rotation. After those three, the Cubs are looking at a cast of Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Trevor Williams, Shelby Miller, and Kohl Stewart as options.
If the Cubs’ rotation is going to return to form and be one of the strengths of the team, then they will need Alzolay to find success at the Major League level. After struggling in 4 appearances during the 2019 season, Alzolay was impressive during the shortened 2020 campaign. Alzolay posted a 2.95 ERA/ 3.05 FIP/ 1.172 WHIP in 21.1 innings pitched last season with the Cubs. They will need more of that from Alzolay in 2021 if the starting rotation is going to find consistent success.
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With Kyle Hendricks officially tabbed as the Chicago Cubs opening day starting pitcher, expect the rest of the rotation to come into focus over the course of the coming days.