Chicago Cubs: Is it too early to worry about the 2020 bullpen?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Strop has been an exciting part of the bullpen for a long time

No other pitcher has been more consistent or meant more to the Cubs bullpen during this competitive window than Strop. He’s compiled an earned run average between 2.21 and 2.91 annually since coming to Chicago.

Last year Strop provided his usual excellent work. In 60 games, spanning 59 2/3 innings, he had a 2.26 ERA and a 3.43 FIP. Strop had 57 strikeouts and 21 walks – not to mention a sterling 0.989 WHIP. When Morrow was injured down the stretch, Strop became the fill-in closer. He had a career-high 13 saves in 17 save opportunities.

Unfortunately, Strop’s season essentially ended when he pulled his left hamstring while running out a ground ball. However, Strop came back to pitch one scoreless inning in the NL Wild Card game, despite being in severe pain.

Before the 2018 season, the Dominican-born hurler avoided his final trip through arbitration by signing a one-year contract for $5.85 million with a team option for another year at $6.25 million. The Cubs exercised that team option, which is why Strop is still a member of the Cubs.

But on Opening Day 2020, Strop will be 34 years old. I suspect the front office will take a hard look at re-signing Strop at season’s end. But if he has a bad year or if there are signs age is catching up with him, the bullpen may have to find a way to get batters out without the right-hander for the first time since 2012.