Of the 219 qualified relievers from the last four seasons (i.e. during his time in Chicago), Pedro Strop’s 236.2 IP and 3.8 WAR rank 33rd and 26th, respectively, in all of baseball.
In three of those four seasons (2014, 2015, and 2017), Strop surpassed the 60.0 innings threshold, and in the one year he didn’t (2016), he still nearly reached 50 innings, and was a valuable reliever (2.85 ERA, 0.8 WAR) overall.
All of which is to say, Strop is one of the most valuable members of the Cubs’ bullpen, and they’re going to make sure he’s 100% ready to go before getting him into a Spring Training game. How that will impact Opening Day remains to be seen. Per Jesse Rogers: “Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (calf) says he should be ready to get into a game next week and believes he will be ready for the regular season as well – but understands that decision isn’t up to him.”
Indeed, if you haven’t noticed, Strop has been entirely out of action this spring (calf), dating back to the beginning of March:
#Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (left calf) was to throw a bullpen on Tuesday and could get in a game this weekend if all goes well
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 6, 2018
The bad news is that tweet is from March 6th, and Strop obviously hasn’t returned yet, but the good news is it’s not an arm injury, and once he’s back to 100%, there shouldn’t be any ill effects. Moreover, Strop said he did already feel good enough to pitch again, but after a brief set-back, the Cubs decided to take things especially slow and avoid any future issues.
Even with that, Strop says he “definitely thinks he can start the season on time.” (Tribune) I suppose we’ll see.
If, however, Strop has to start the season out on the disabled list, there will be some decisions to be made. Brett just discussed the broader bullpen picture – in light of the Justin Grimm release – and I’ll leave you with some of that discussion:
At present, there are six guys locked into the expected eight-man bullpen when the season opens: Brandon Morrow, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Mike Montgomery, Brian Duensing, and Justin Wilson.
The seventh spot will go to Pedro Strop if he’s healthy enough to start the season on the 25-man roster, but he’s been delayed by a calf injury and then an illness. I’d say the start of the season for him is not guaranteed at this point.
So, at least to start the year, the Cubs may have two spots available in the bullpen to choose from among the follow pitchers still in camp, whose status in parenthesis could impact the decision:
- Anthony Bass (on minor league contract)
- Eddie Butler (40-man roster, out of minor league options – must pass through waivers before he could be sent to the minor leagues)
- Justin Hancock (on minor league contract)
- Dillon Maples (40-man, options)
- Randy Rosario (40-man, options)
- Kyle Ryan (on minor league contract)
- Shae Simmons (40-man, options)
All of this will clear up soon enough, and hopefully, at that point, the Cubs have just one spot to fill, with Strop ready to go, and keep on being the consistently effective arm he’s been in his four-plus years with the Cubs.