If you’ve followed this column each week, you know I’m a huge fan of Liam Hendricks. Aside from being a fantastic reliever, he seems like a tremendous human being; the type of guy you want to root for.
He was dealt an awful blow in the offseason, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. He pushed and fought, and overcame it. He did so well that he was able to get back on the mound on May 29th. Although his results were mixed, just getting on the mound was a victory in itself.
He only managed five appearances before hitting the IL again, with forearm and elbow issues. It took until June 27th for Hendricks to be cleared to throw. He was scheduled to throw some simulated games and go on a rehab stint, until making it back to the White Sox by the end of July. He threw on July 20th and nearly hit 94 MPH, which was encouraging.
Although things seemed to be trending in the right direction, his return was pushed back to August 15th. With the White Sox woefully out of the playoff chase, and selling off pieces, there was no reason to rush him. However, yesterday it was announced he would undergo Tommy John surgery and miss not only the rest of this season but the vast majority of next season.
He underwent successful surgery on Wednesday and the after his recovery period, the rehabilitation will begin anew. His 2024 season is effectively over. And don’t lose sight of the fact that he is still recovering from cancer and his immune system is already compromised. This is a long battle.
He is guaranteed $15M next season from the White Sox, so at least he’s not a free agent which would be financially devastating for him and his family. If they opt out of his deal, they are on the hook for his $15M spread out over 10 years.
But this is about so much more than a contract, it is just awful news for a really good guy. He fought extremely hard to get back and he achieved that goal. He made five appearances and threw five innings. He had one save and two wins. And for a team that has only won 43 games thus far this season, Hendricks has contributed to 6.9% of the WhiteSox’sx win total.
With Hendricks out, the question is who the White Sox will turn to down the stretch for these last 50 games of the year. Not that they stand to get many more wins or save chances the rest of the year, but if you’re in a tight race every save may matter.
The odds-on reliever to fill in the rest of the way is Gregory Santos. In 46 appearances, he has two saves and two wins under his belt. He has a strikeout per inning along with a solid 1.25 WHIP and 2.63 ERA. Up until the other day, he would have been competing with Kendall Graveman, but Graveman was shipped off to Houston. Santos is only rostered in about 20% of leagues…you should snag him.
Sometimes you just can’t shake karma. On paper, this White Sox team should have been pretty good. But from the moment Hendricks announced he had non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, there has been a cloud hanging over the team. For Hendricks and the team, this season can’t end quickly enough. It is going to be a long road to recovery for Hendricks. I am rooting for him. By the time he gets back, he’ll be 36 years old, and the odds will be stacked against him, effectively not pitching for two whole years…but if anyone can back, it’s the big righty from Down Under.