PHOENIX – The Cubs are giving Kyle Hendricks a chance to prove he belongs in their rotation.
Hendricks – a Dartmouth College graduate and the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2013 – will face the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs still haven’t announced their fifth starter after trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s on the Fourth of July. But this is a big opportunity for Hendricks, a Pacific Coast League All-Star who’s gone 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A Iowa.
[MORE CUBS: Cubs getting in position to make a huge splash]
“The thought is to allow him to slot into that spot and then see how he does,” manager Rick Renteria said before Friday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
Hendricks, 24, has blossomed since coming over from the Texas Rangers in the Ryan Dempster trade at the 2012 deadline.
Baseball America graded Hendricks as having the best changeup and best control among the organization’s pitching prospects heading into this season. The right-hander’s put up 97 strikeouts against 23 walks in 102-plus innings at Iowa.
Hendricks made his big-league debut on July 10 at Great American Ball Park, working through a rocky start and giving his team a chance to win, allowing four runs in six innings. The Cubs wound up beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-4 in 12 innings.
The Cubs will be holding auditions after trading away 40 percent of their rotation for the third summer in a row. Dan Straily, Tsuyoshi Wada, Dallas Beeler, Chris Rusin and Eric Jokisch could get looks in the second half.
“There’s nothing that says that they can’t come in here and perform and help us win ballgames,” Renteria said. “We’re really hopeful that the guys that we have within the system will be able to come in and hopefully find a sense of comfort within that clubhouse.
“There’s some nervousness that comes with a new area, a new arena, but usually those guys are able to adjust and perform.”