The Chicago Cubs technically lost their closer, Brandon Morrow, all the way back in July, but as much as that hurt, the real pain came about two weeks ago, when Pedro Strop ran through first base and came up limping.
Strop, you might recall, injured his hamstring while hitting for himself in extra innings against the Nationals on September 13th, despite Tommy La Stella’s availability off the bench and the fact that he had already contributed over an inning of work. He has been sidelined ever since. Indeed, the decision to bat Strop in that spot would have been highly questionable – at best – in isolation, but given his importance to this team with Morrow out, it was a downright awful decision. And now, the Cubs are paying the price.
#Cubs are encouraged by the progress of Pedro Strop (hamstring), Jim Hickey says. Strop threw 18 pitches off a mound in the bullpen yesterday. It wasn’t considered an official bullpen session because the catcher moved up a bit to make the throws shorter.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) September 26, 2018
Well how about that!
According to Cubs Pitching Coach Jim Hickey, Pedro Strop threw 18 pitches off the bullpen mound yesterday, and in encouraging fashion! It apparently wasn’t a proper “bullpen session,” but that’s obviously very good news nonetheless. The Cubs (or, really: Strop) have been suggesting that a return could happen before the end of the season, but we’ve been, well, not overly optimistic about that so far. But now, well, who knows? Maybe the Cubs can catch a break.
At the same time, there’s really not all that much time left in the season. The Cubs have two more games against the Pirates (tonight and tomorrow night) and then a three-game set at Wrigley Field this weekend. If Strop is going to make it back by, say, the final game on Sunday, he’ll likely have to get in a true bullpen session on Thursday or Friday and it’ll have to go perfectly. And while that’s still reasonable (at least on this insanely accelerated healing schedule) it’s not exactly likely. A return this quick is just not common, and I still don’t think we should get our hopes too high.
BUT I WILL SAY THIS … If Strop was already good enough to throw off the mound yesterday – proper bullpen session or not – I am suddenly far more optimistic than I ever was that he can be a factor in the postseason. And considering that the Cubs could well clinch a *postseason* spot as soon as tonight, I’ll just take the win, thank the universe, and move on.