Cubs setup man Pedro Strop has suffered a setback in his rehab from a torn meniscus in his left knee, as Bruce Levine of 670 The Score/CBS Chicago writes. Strop suffered a groin strain while rehabbing the knee and, rather than going out on a minor league rehab assignment in the near future as had been planned, will now be pushed back until the third week of September. The Cubs still expect Strop to return before season’s end and to pitch in the playoffs, but his delay could continue to put a tax on some of the Cubs’ current late-inning arms. Levine notes that manager Joe Maddon used Aroldis Chapman three straight days, culminating in a 31-pitch outing on Wednesday this week and prompting young Carl Edwards to get a save opportunity (which he converted) in Thursday’s contest. There’s better news on John Lackey and Hector Rondon, with the former expected to come off the DL to make a start on Sunday and the latter expected to return to the relief corps early next week.
More on the NL Central leaders…
- Jake Arrieta has looked downright mortal in 70 innings since late June, logging a 4.37 ERA with some middling rate stats (6.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9), and Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan dives into the right-hander’s recent struggles. Notably, Sullivan points out that Arrieta’s slider has become less effective, and the result is that left-handed hitters have begun to have a considerably easier time with him at the plate. Arrieta’s overall number of strikes to lefties has plummeted, while opposite-handed batters have seen a significant uptick in hard contact, exit velocity and launch angle against the 2015 Cy Young winner. Sullivan examines some minor distinctions between Arrieta’s 2015 delivery and his delivery in his recent starts, noting that the Chicago ace is dropping his back leg earlier in his delivery than during his dominant run and over-rotating his upper half. It’s not a definitive cause of Arrieta’s struggles, of course, but Sullivan’s entire analysis is well worth a look for Cubs fans that have been befuddled by Arrieta’s recent decline.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers writes that while many fans have wondered why the Cubs haven’t moved on from hitters Tommy La Stella, Chris Coghlan and Miguel Montero — in La Stella’s case, due to his stepping away from the team for a time following a demotion and in the others’ case simply due to their offensive struggles — each of the three could play an important role in September and October. With so many impact right-handed relievers on the teams they’ll face down the stretch and in the playoffs, each presents Maddon with a potential late-inning matchup. Moreover, the Cubs won’t need a 12- or 13-man pitching staff for a best-of-five series and could choose to carry an extra position player off the bench — and La Stella or Coghlan could fill that role. Montero may still be the odd man out in that scenario, Rogers notes, as the club could elect to carry a more speed-oriented player such as Albert Almora in his stead.