Cubs' Rotation Not Getting Job Done Early

MILWAUKEE (670 The Score) -- The strength of these Cubs was expected to be their starting rotation.

Through nine games, that hasn't been the case. Chicago has only logged three quality starts, and its starter have rarely gone deep into games. Such was the case in Chicago's 4-2 loss at Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon, when right-hander Kyle Hendricks logged four innings, allowing four runs, all earned on eight hits and a walk while striking out four. 

Christian Yelich hammered a two-run homer off Hendricks in the first inning to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead, and the Brewers never trailed.

"The fastball command is a little off," Hendricks said of Yelich's homer. "That pitch should be down and away. My four-seamer, I was just pulling. The two-seamers as well. So I was just pulling it or it was too flat. I had no depth on it and no depth on my changeup. I am pushing the ball a little bit right now."

In his first start, Hendricks was let down by a defense that committed six errors on the day in a setback at Atlanta, where he logged just 4 1/3 innings and allowed seven runs, just two earned. In general, the home run ball has been the kiss of death for the Cubs' pitchers, as they've allowed 20 in nine games. 

That's led to many short outings. Only left-hander Jon Lester and left-hander Cole Hamels have thrown six innings. Lester has done so in each of his two starts, while Hamels did it in a win against the Brewers on Saturday.

Hendricks, right-hander Yu Darvish and left-hander Jose Quintana have been chased early, as has Hamels on one occasion.

"For the most part, Jon Lester and Hamels have looked kind of normal," manager Joe Maddon said after his team lost Sunday. "The other guys, we just have to get them on track. They are going to be soon. Kyle has had two un-Kyle-like performances. He knows he is not far off. I always trust his self-evaluation." 

After an abysmal 2-7 road trip to open the season, the Cubs host the Pirates in their home opener Monday afternoon. Lester will get the ball as Chicago is already 5.5 games back of Milwaukee in the NL Central race.

"We are really looking forward to getting home," Hendricks said. "It isn't necessarily the cure-all. I need to focus on making better pitches."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.