Chicago Cubs: Pedro Strop needs to step up his game

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Throughout his tenure with the Chicago Cubs, Pedro Strop has been one of the best relievers in team history. After an uncharacteristic 2019 season thus far, it’s time for Strop to bounce back.

Pedro Strop was a crucial piece in what may go down as the best trade in Chicago Cubs history. In early July of 2013, the Cubs traded pitcher Scott Feldman and backup catcher Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for Jake Arrieta and Strop.

Arrieta would go on to win the Cy Young in 2015 and secured two wins during the 2016 World Series. While Arrieta will always go down as the centerpiece of that deal, Strop’s contributions over the past six seasons are nothing to scoff at.

In Strop’s first five seasons as a Cub, his ERA has never been over 3.00. He’s taken on many different roles, from middle relief to closer, and the production has always been there. However, this season has been a different story for the 34-year-old.

Season of woes for Strop

In 2019, Strop has logged only 27.2 innings pitched while dealing with multiple injuries, and the results have suffered. Strop is currently 2-4 with an ERA of 5.20. He has also seen his fastball dip from the usual 95 MPH, to around 92-93 MPH. The Cubs hope that Strop will see a resurgence after his most recent trip to the IL with neck stiffness.

"“We want to take this time to get the neck right and everything straightened out,” Maddon said to the Chicago Tribune. “I think it will bode him and us very well.”"

The short IL stint may very well have been for Strop to get his mechanics straightened out, just as much as it was to cure a stiff neck. Now, the Cubs need Strop to show vast improvement, especially given the circumstances.

Needing Strop now more than ever

Throughout the 2019 season, it seems as if the Cubs bullpen has been plagued with inconsistent performances, but also bad luck. This was the case this past week as the Cubs got Strop back from the IL, but had to place closer Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Kintzler on the shelf with minor injuries.

Ideally, the Cubs would probably like to ease Strop back into action in low-leverage situations, but they may not have that luxury. With Kimbrel and Kintzler down and Steve Cishek struggling, Joe Maddon may be forced to use Strop with the game on the line.

The team has benefitted from strong performances from Rowan Wick and Duane Underwood recently, so Maddon could opt to use those options in late-innings while they have the hot hand.

However, at some point, Strop will need to be unleashed. In a pennant race, it’s important to have players who have experience, and Strop certainly does. Since the Cubs began their competitive window, Strop has been heavily relied upon and has never shied away from a big moment.

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Down the stretch, I’d expect more of the same from a guy who has been such a critical piece for an extended time. Now that the Cubs have Strop healthy and confident, it’s time for him to produce results.