Longtime Cubs reliever Pedro Strop is eyeing a comeback attempt, as the right-hander himself made clear when tweeting out video of himself throwing a bullpen session this weekend. “I want to come back,” Strop wrote in yesterday’s tweet. It’s the second time in the past couple weeks that he’s alluded to a comeback by tweeting out video of a ’pen session, though yesterday’s was more direct than the first.
Strop, who’ll turn 38 in June, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2021 and has thrown just 4 1/3 big league innings since the conclusion of the 2019 season. He’s pitched for los Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League in each of the past two offseasons, combining for 23 2/3 innings of 3.80 ERA ball with a 25.2% strikeout rate and 11.6% walk rate. Strop also tossed 14 innings in the 2021 Mexican League, allowing five runs (3.21 ERA) on 14 hits and five walks with 16 punchouts.
Strop’s last season with a significant amount of time spent in the Majors was back in 2019, when he limped to a 4.97 ERA in 41 2/3 frames. His 27.5% strikeout rate that year remained plenty strong, but Strop’s 11.2% walk rate was one of the highest of his career and his velocity dipped to what was then a career-low 93.6 mph. In two subsequent seasons, he tossed 4 1/3 frames between the Reds and Cubs but walked eight of his 25 opponents in that time while sitting at 91.8 mph with his heater.
Prior to those struggles, Strop was a durable and excellent reliever over a six-year stretch with the Cubs. Acquired alongside Jake Arrieta in an absolute heist of a trade with the Orioles, Strop’s first six seasons in Chicago resulted in a 2.63 ERA over 331 1/3 innings. He pitched to a sub-3.00 ERA every season, fanned 28.2% of his total opponents and walked 9.5% of them. He picked up 19 saves and another 114 holds during regular-season play along the way, and he also excelled in the postseason. Through 17 total innings, he allowed just four runs (2.12 ERA) on eight hits and six walks with 12 strikeouts — including two scoreless frames during the Cubs’ 2016 World Series run.
Time will tell whether Strop actually gets another opportunity with an affiliated club and whether he can take that hypothetical opportunity a step further and ultimately return to a big league mound. He certainly wouldn’t be the first pitcher to engineer a successful big league return in his late 30s, though. Daniel Bard returned from a seven-year MLB absence at age 35 back in 2020, and Rich Hill was also 35 by the time he kicked off a late-career renaissance that he’s still continuing into his age-43 season.