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    Mets vs. Cubs Thursday MLB probable pitchers, odds: Kyle Hendricks to make season debut for Chicago, set at 3.5 strikeouts

    Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks will make his season debut on Thursday.
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    At 22-26, the rebuilding Chicago Cubs probably have overachieved a bit thus far and have done so without their most accomplished starting pitcher. That changes on Thursday as right-hander Kyle Hendricks, a former MLB ERA champion, takes the mound against the visiting New York Mets. The Cubs are -120 at Caesars Sportsbook, and Hendricks is set at over/under 3.5 strikeouts.

    That strikeout total is very low – counterpart Carlos Carrasco is terrible with a 0-2 record and 8.68 ERA and is set at O/U 4.5. But Hendricks has never been a strikeout machine, and he will likely be on a pitch count considering he hasn't pitched in the majors since July 5, 2022. The 33-year-old was placed on the injured list after that with a shoulder strain and was eventually diagnosed with a capsule tear. The injury did not require surgery, but shoulder problems typically require long recovery periods, especially for pitchers.

    Hendricks was 4-6 with a 4.80 ERA in 16 starts last year -- some of that performance can likely be chalked up to the shoulder issue -- but won 14 games as recently as 2021. From 2014-2020, he logged over more than 1,000 innings with a 3.12 ERA. Hendricks is the only player left on the roster from the 2016 World Series championship team.

    He has pitched in five games for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in his rehab stint, and after a rough outing on May 3 he returned to Chicago for a bullpen session. Since then he has been much better, allowing three earned runs in 16 innings while striking out 14 batters and walking two. He built up to 82 pitches over six frames in his start Saturday. The Cubs will have to clear a roster spot today for him.

    The Cubs go for the three-game home sweep of the Mets. Originally this was to be struggling Jameson Taillon's spot, but he now will take the ball Saturday against the Reds. Hendricks has faced the Mets five times in his career. He is 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA against New York.

    Hendricks doesn't throw very hard so he is prone to allowing home runs. The Mets have homered in a season-high eight straight contests, hitting 15 in that span. They are 20-11 when hitting a home run this season and 9-5 when hitting multiple homers.

    In Wednesday's 4-2 win, Cubs outfielder Christopher Morel went 1-for-4 with a single, ending his streak of five straight games with a homer, tying a franchise record. 

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    SportsLine Staff

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