TODAY: With an MRI revealing a moderate hamstring strain, Strop won’t return in the regular season, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat was among those to report on Twitter. His postseason availability remains to be seen.
YESTERDAY: Cubs reliever Pedro Strop pulled up lame after grounding into a double play late in tonight’s contest. He says he expects to miss at least a couple of weeks, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets, further depleting the late-inning ranks of the Chicago pen at a critical juncture.
Strop was only up to the plate because the heavily worked relief unit was left without other desirable options. Despite a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity, the Cubs sent the veteran hurler up in anticipation of asking him to throw a second inning to lock up a win.
As it turned out, the club won, but Strop was unable to make it back onto the hill. He and skipper Joe Maddon confirmed after the game that it’s a hamstring issue. Understandably, full details of the injury remain unknown at this time.
In large part, Strop’s recovery timeline will simply depend upon how quickly he responds. Perhaps, though, we can expect further indication as to expectations once he’s examined fully in the coming days.
The news leaves the Cubs without their first and second choices in the closer’s role. Top reliever Brandon Morrow is already on the shelf and facing an uncertain path back to the MLB roster. In his stead, Strop has increasingly operated in the ninth inning. Over twenty appearances since the return from the All-Star break, Strop has recorded 11 saves.
At this point, there’s not much to be done but to hope for the best with regard to both righties. Significant outside acquisitions, after all, aren’t a realistic possibility. (Though trades are still possible, through the revocable waiver process, any players changing hands at this juncture are not eligible to participate in the postseason.)
As with Morrow, the 33-year-old Strop is a key piece even before factoring in any added value in a closing capacity. Through 58 frames this year, Strop owns a 2.33 ERA — his fifth-straight season of sub-3.00 ERA pitching in Chicago. After all, going to the next man up still means reducing the quality of the options in the earlier innings, which could lead to increased demands on what’s already a less-than-dominant rotation.
Even if Strop is able to recover by the start of the postseason, any intervening absence will certainly impact the club’s efforts to hold off the Brewers and Cardinals in the division. That makes for an increased challenge for Maddon and his charges, though it might also lead to an even more interesting race for fans of these three teams.