When Michael went in search of an explanation for Pedro Strop’s extremely and uncharacteristically bad performance on Monday night, there simply wasn’t anything obvious, and no one was coughing up any details. Turns out, they must have been silently hoping for the best at that time, because Strop had long been dealing with a hamstring issue, and it reached a tipping point in the Marlins outing.
Strop tried pitching through it for a while after initially hurting in during the 15-inning game in ARI. He felt OK after his weekend outing vs. STL and then warmed up OK in bullpen Monday night but then felt it a lot more in the 9th inning, which helps explain his command issues
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) May 8, 2019
Strop said he initially hurt leg during 2nd inning of work at Arizona on April 28. Rested during Seattle series but felt recurring discomfort Saturday vs. STL
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 8, 2019
Strop said the left hamstring has been bothering him mildly since series in Arizona. In his last outing vs. Marlins, it flared beyond tolerance. MRI showed Grade 2 strain. Will get treatment for 3-4 days before planning next rehab step. No established timeline for return.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 8, 2019
I love Pedro Strop, and I don’t know to what extent he has to also be partly on the hook here, but whoever was in position to make roster decisions about health really dropped the ball. Not only should Strop have gone on the Injured List LONG before he was in a position to suffer a GRADE TWO strain of his hamstring – after STRAINING BOTH OF HIS HAMSTRINGS IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS – but also the Cubs should have been WAY MORE PREPARED to deal with the fallout if Strop took the mound and fell apart.
It is inconceivable to me that Strop has been dealing with hamstring pain for over a week, yet the Cubs still put him out there to close a one-run game, he walked the first two batters, looking very bad in the process, and with his velocity down, and didn’t have anyone up in the bullpen to relieve him until he’d face TWO MORE BATTERS, INCLUDING WALKING IN THE TYING RUN.
Lots of CAPS in this one. I’m a little frustrated, as you can tell, that the Cubs (and/or Strop) put the health of a key pitcher at risk, lost a game because of it, and then lost that key pitcher for a month because of it. If there’s a good excuse or explanation for how this proceeded, I’d love to hear it.
The good news is that the Cubs bullpen, believe it or not, seems to be in decent shape to weather this absence. You’re never totally fine losing one of your best relief arms, but the Cubs do have so much usable depth at AAA Iowa, and frankly a roster overload as Mike Montgomery returned, that the sting of losing Strop for a month might not be that awful with some good mixing and matching at the end of games. Where the Cubs actually might feel it most is in the bridge from the starter to the later innings, since everyone else gets pushed up when the “closer” is out.
Maybe I’ve been fooled by a couple good Carl Edwards Jr. outings, a healthy Mike Montgomery return, and a bullpen that has led baseball in ERA by a run for over a month now. But right now, even as I’m really frustrated about how this injury developed and was treated, I don’t feel super panicky about the state of the bullpen.
(Well, that is to say, not more panicky than I would be otherwise, which is still wanting to see them add a lock-down, back-end reliever type during trade season, if possible. But that’s for another day.)