Chicago Cubs: Grading reliever Pedro Strop’s 2017 season
Pedro Strop was among the best relievers out of the Chicago Cubs bullpen, and if you don’t believe that, we show you the numbers.
The Chicago Cubs bullpen is an area staring at upgrades for the 2018 season. However, despite the nagging inconsistencies which plagued the unit in 2017, the Cubs’ pen was third in ERA (3.80) and second in strikeouts (620).
Having just completed his ninth big-league season, and fifth campaign with the Cubs, Pedro Strop, in particular, enjoyed one of his finest seasons to date.
We’ll go back a little bit first.
With a career that started in Texas and included a stop in Baltimore, where he was involved in the famous Jake Arrieta trade, Strop has logged 400 career innings, posted 3.17 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, and batters have hit just under the Mendoza line (.199).
Let’s funnel that down.
As a member of the Cubs, Strop has logged 271 2/3 innings, a 2.72 ERA and a slash-line of .178/.274/.276. He has walked 106 batters to go with 319 strikeouts and 2.93 FIP. Since 2014, and going back to his first full season with the Cubs, his 3.02 FIP ranks 29th among all major league relievers.
In 2016, Strop appeared in 54 games spanning 47 1/3 innings, posting a 0.89 WHIP and 2.85 ERA. He was signed to a multi-year contract extension prior to the 2017 season, which takes him through 2018 and includes a club option for 2019.
The 2017 season was more of the same for Strop, and that is a good thing for the Cubs, as he led Cubs relievers in FIP (3.31).
Throughout the year, Strop was among the most used, and more important pieces out of the pen for Joe Maddon. He made 69 appearances, the second-most behind Carl Edwards Jr. and Strop had the third-best ERA (2.83) behind Brian Duensing and Wade Davis.
For the season Strop had 9.70 K/9 and 3.88 BB/9.
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In essence, he struck out less, and walked more as opposed to his 2016 campaign, and as chronicled by Erik Mauro earlier in the season. Strop also appeared in 15 additional games in 2017, spanning 13 more innings.
Maybe the numbers even out among actual games played.
Not bad, right?
All in all, it was another successful season for Strop, who was even more effective in the second half.
In the postseason he made five appearances, posting 1.69 ERA, allowing just one ER and one hit. He walked three and struck out one.
Strop was slightly better on the road versus at home.
In nearly the same amount of innings pitched, Strop’s road ERA was 20 points lower, which amounts to a difference of one ER.
Opponents hit .155 on the road versus .252 at Wrigley Field, but he walked 19 on the road, seven at home. Lefties slashed just .178/.265/.233, and righties: .227/.322/.383.
His ERA was at its best since 2014 and he has maintained a sub-3.00 ERA his entire Cubs tenure.
Strop posted the best line drive rate of his career, 10.5 percent, and down nearly six percent from 2016. He did up his ground ball rate one percent, but he also elevated his fly ball rate to 30.3 percent, the highest such total among his qualified seasons.
However, this was not reflective of his HR/FB rate, which improved six percent (8.7 percent) from 2016, and his HR/9 (0.60).
Relief pitchers might be among the toughest commodities to rate. Especially if one bad game sticks out in your mind, but you can’t let that overshadow a body of work.
Most would agree Brian Duensing was excellent out of the Cubs bullpen. Both pitchers were similar in appearances and innings pitched. Strop had the edge in K/9, HR/9, GB rate, HR/FB, and FIP.
That’s not taking anything away from Duensing.
Both pitchers were exceptional for the Cubs, and while Duensing had Strop beat in other areas, bother were very similar from an overall number perspective.
Strop was also used in more mid-to-high leverage spots, which is not to say Duensing could not handle more of that load.
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While Strop could certainly improve in areas such as walks and expanding the strike zone–his 30.1 O-Swing percentage in 2017 was the lowest of his career–the Chicago Cubs will happily take more of what Strop put together in 2017.