Chicago Cubs Gradeout: Pedro Stop solid again in eighth


Chicago Cubs. PEDRO STROP. B. 2-6, 2.91 ERA, 68 IP, 81 SO, 39 holds, 3 saves, 1.00 WHIP. RP

Way back in the dismal year of 2013, the Chicago Cubs made a trade with the Baltimore Orioles for starter Jake Arrieta and reliever Pedro Strop. The Cubs only had to give up starter Scott Feldman in what looked like a deal where the Cubs flipped another one-year deal to fill a position of need in their bullpen while also getting an unproven starter.

We now know Arrieta has proven himself to be an ace and potential Cy Young winner. While the 30-year-old Strop is no longer seen as the centerpiece of that deal, he still has thrown together some good years for the Cubs. 

This year, Strop finished with a 2-6 with a 2.91 ERA and three saves. With 68 innings pitched and 39 holds, Strop has really solidified himself as the Cubs’ go-to eighth inning man.

Technically, the Cubs setup man had a worse year in 2015 campaign compared to his 2014 season as his ERA rose from 2.21 in 2014. His WHIP stayed relatively similar with a 2014 1.06 WHIP and a 1.00 WHIP in 2015.

These numbers all seem well and good, yet for some reason I couldn’t help but cringe every time I saw Strop trot out from the bullpen. Strop let up two runs or more eight times during the season, with a majority of those games coming in May. In 2014, Strop only gave up two or more runs four times.

Along with Hector Rondon, Strop has become a leader in the bullpen as those two are the longest-reigning players down there in foul play. And we all know how loose they keep it there. I mean these guys play “Bullpen Chicken,” a game that has luckily not resulted in any injuries yet.

So, despite his struggles, especially against the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals, Strop posted career-highs in innings pitched (68) and strikeouts (81) – which you have to think is due to his devastating breaking pitches.

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He blew two saves this year and allowed two dozen runs, five more than he allowed last season. That being said, he did pitch six more innings, as well. Part of that increase may be attributed to his tendency to run into the long-ball, as his home runs per nine doubled from this year to last.

But, even with the more runs allowed for Strop, he has no-doubt been a solid presence for the Cubs. He’s turning 31 next year so it’s possible he’s coming out of the prime of his career, but only time will tell.

If Strop can keep the production relatively similar to his 2015 numbers, the Cubs should be in good shape in the eighth inning heading into 2016.

Next: Chicago Cubs Gradeout: Kris Bryant's 2015 Rookie of the Year campaign