While running to first last Thursday night, Cubs reliever Pedro Strop came up limping and, despite his apparent Wolverine-like healing abilities, has already been ruled out for the season with a moderate left hamstring strain.
Here’s that play again in case you missed it (and I totally won’t mention that Strop had already thrown 1.2 innings that night, that Tommy La Stella was available off the bench, and that the Cubs closer, Brandon Morrow, for whom Strop was filling in, had been out since July and won’t throw another pitch this season, making Strop all the more critical):
In all likelihood, just given what we know about hamstring injuries and the particular timing of this one, Strop will not throw another pitch before the end of the regular season. Regardless of what he or the Cubs say, it’s just not objectively *likely.* But Strop is holding out hope. And I’d be lying if I said he hasn’t returned quicker than we thought possible before, so we’ll hear him out today.
According to Strop, he’s still hoping to get one outing in before the start of the postseason, but concedes that he doesn’t necessarily need one to be ready in October.
“Everything [is limited to] pain-free [activity]. We’re not trying to do too much,” Strop told Cubs.com. “We’re letting that thing heal. We’re going to do whatever is possible to do.”
As for keeping that door open, Strop is your beaming light of (admittedly realistic) optimism (Tribune): “It all depends on the way I heal. If I heal well, and if I’m able to do stuff, I’m not going to lie to them. I’m not going to try to be the hero. If I can, I can. If I can’t, I can’t. As of right now, we’re working as hard as possible to get back.”
I will say that although I don’t expect him to be back before the end of the season, I am happy with his current mentality. The Cubs can make it to October without him, so getting him back in time for the postseason is the real goal. BUT if Strop somehow manages to feel good enough to get one practice inning in before the start of the postseason, the Cubs, Joe Maddon, and we will all feel much more confident about how, when, and how often to deploy Strop in the (fingers crossed) NLDS.
So for now, I’d still brace yourselves for an active roster without Strop the rest of the regular season. Beyond that, the range of possibilities is quite wide. Strop could be ready by the time the NLDS rolls around and be right back in the closer’s seat (it wasn’t an arm injury, after all), or he might not be well enough to carry on the roster *at all.* My bet is that he ends up somewhere in between there (good enough to carry on the roster, but some level of caution about how to deploy him), but that might be a good enough outcome anyway.
The one thing we know for sure is Strop’s confidence is real and he’s still angling – likely based on some very quick return times from injuries in his past – to make one appearance before the end of the season.