Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop came up lame running to first base against the Nationals Thursday, causing concern right off the bat. If he is going to miss significant time, that is a very tough blow to the Cubs.
The good news, the Chicago Cubs won Thursday. The bad news? Pedro Strop left the game due to a hamstring injury. Strop took the at bat in extra innings with the bags loaded and a run in, as he hit a shot to third base and grounded into a 5-2-3 double play.
While hitting the bag he appeared to take a bad step and immediately hobbled after passing the bag. Hearts of Cubs fans immediately sank when he appeared to be grabbing his hamstring, which as many know can be very serious. He did walk to the dugout on his own power and Randy Rosario pitched the bottom of the 10th.
Joe Maddon said that Strop’s hamstring was sore and he’ll “probably out a while,” according to Chicago Tribune writer Paul Sullivan. He then reported that he likely miss a few weeks and will get an MRI. The closer situation is anybody’s guess.
What not having Strop means.
This is a very tough blow. Strop had taken over as the primary closer for the injured Brandon Morrow. Currently at a 2.26 ERA on the season, he has arguably been their best and most important reliever. The pen has worked so hard lately and cracks due to fatigue have begun to show. Bullpens are important in the postseason and losing shutdown relievers makes winning a lot harder.
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One things seems clear, he is probably not coming back until at least the last week of the season, no sooner. The race is incredibly tight, and they are going to need a reliable closer if they want to win the division. If the MRI looks bad, then he may not even be ready for October. This is really bad timing. So what do they do?
There could either be a closer by committee, or they will have to chose somebody. Most likely candidates point to Steve Cishek, due to his closing experience, or Justin Wilson. The struggles of Carl Edwards eliminate him as an option for the time being and even if Morrow comes back later, he probably will be shaking off rust.
Evaluating the options
There are arguments for a few of them. Cishek has the most closer experience of anyone on the staff with 124 career saves. On the season he has the most innings pitched of a reliever who has not made a start at 65 2/3 and sports a 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 75 walks. Overall a great reliever on the season, however, he sports a 9.00 ERA in September and seems to be showing some wear and tear.
Wilson seems a bit scarier, but his performance the past two months has been very good. A 1.76 ERA, 11 strikeouts and four walks going back to Aug. 2 has lowered his season ERA to 2.92. The season WHIP is still at 1.376, which is normally too high, but much of the walk problems were early on. Hopefully it does not relapse. He very well could be the guy going forward.
Morrow is going to be a wait-and-see basis, and even if he is an option, he will not be put back for some time. So someone else will have to come in right away and there is zero chance it is Morrow. One more possible option could be Jesse Chavez, who has a 1.45 ERA with the Cubs this season. Though he has served as a good “fireman” at times, and Joe may want to use him in those situations.
Only time will tell what happens, but this is going to be a tough situation regardless.