A couple items out of the Cubs’ bullpen to bring to your attention today, the extreme, exaggerated, and irrational versions of which are: OMG PEDRO STROP IS BROKEN and OMG BRANDON MORROW CAN’T PITCH!
Breathe, my friends.
This is early spring. It’s March 1. Short of a literal break or tear, there is no panicking in early spring, especially when so many team actions are going to be dubbed “precautionary.” Here’s where things are with Strop and Morrow:
Strop sore left calf, kept off mound. 5-6 appearances scripted for Morrow this spring
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 1, 2018
Cubs Pedro Strop has calf issue . Throwing flat ground . B Morrow 6 outings in games planned .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 1, 2018
Nothing is wrong with Morrow. #Cubs just being careful after long season last year
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 1, 2018
There was always going to be something for someone, and if Pedro Strop being set back by a sore calf is the worst of it, the Cubs will have had a magnificent spring. As long as Strop is able to get back on the mound for a few competitive appearances (so we’re saying he could still have a couple weeks of no game action and be fine for Opening Day), he should be just fine. If, baseball gods forbid, he had to be delayed coming out of Spring Training, the Cubs are relatively deep in reliever options to open up the season, and are similarly deep in setup options in the bullpen. Obviously you want Strop – one of the Cubs’ most consistently successful relievers over the past few years – out there, but the Cubs don’t necessarily have to push him.
As for the guy he will be setting up for, projected Cubs closer Brandon Morrow threw a ton of innings last year relative to where he’s been, so the Cubs were always going to take it easy on him. That means not only some limitations in the regular season (strict closer duties, not likely to pitch three days in a row until late in the season if absolutely necessary), but also a limited Spring Training. Five or six competitive appearances should be plenty for Morrow to be ready to go for the regular season. And if he still has a little bit to shake off from there, here’s hoping everyone – including Morrow himself – maintains confidence in the early going.
For reference, Wade Davis made just seven appearances last spring, throwing only five innings.