Chicago Cubs: Pedro Strop leaves a lasting legacy behind

Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Pedro Strop, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

As he begins a new chapter in his career with the divisional rival Reds, Pedro Strop should garner nothing but praise from Chicago Cubs fans.

I’m finally getting back into the swing of things here – and when catching up on the latest surrounding the Chicago Cubs, I checked out my co-editor, Nicholas Blazek‘s, recent piece on luxury tax considerations being the reason Pedro Strop opted to sign with the Cincinnati Reds this winter.

That news, while not in the slightest a surprise, is still frustrating. Why? Because the Cubs are just over two weeks from Opening Day and they have a lot of iffy options in the bullpen at this point. There are little to no sure-fire choices for David Ross and it’s a problem that could steal the show this season if things go sideways.

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"“They did try hard to bring me back. It’s just money-wise, they couldn’t, because they weren’t allowed [with] all the salary cap stuff; they wanted to try to stay below,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times."

So when you watch one of the most reliable relievers in recent memory walk away for less than $2 million, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Granted, Strop wasn’t the same guy last year. He struggled badly and saw his fastball lose a tick in terms of velocity. But we’ve talked about that already. What I really want to focus on is Strop’s place in Cubs history.

As pointed out by’s Jordan Bastian, the fiery right-hander certainly belongs in that elite category of relievers who have donned Cubbie blue in their career. In team history, among relievers who have amassed at least 300 innings, here’s how Strop ranks:

The two guys ahead of Strop on that list are both enshrined in Cooperstown. Now, Strop will never hang in those hallowed halls, but that doesn’t take away what he did after coming over to Chicago in the same trade that netted former NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta.

Just for argument’s sake, let’s focus on 2014 to 2018. That gives us a full five-year stretch to evaluate. It doesn’t include his very respectable second half in 2013 following the trade, nor does it take into account last year’s outlier, a season in which he struggled pretty regularly.

He made 324 appearances during this stretch, finishing 61 games and serving as the team’s go-to reliever in high-leverage spots. He rarely closed. In fact, he has just 18 career saves to his credit. But that shouldn’t diminish the impact he had on the Cubs, either.

Across 296 1/3 innings of work, Strop allowed only 189 hits and just 19 home runs. He worked to a 2.61 ERA, 156 ERA+ and 1.029 WHIP during this span. But you have to dive into the numbers a bit deeper if you want to truly appreciate what he brought to the table.

Opponents hit an abysmal .181 in nearly 1,200 plate appearances, slugging .278. It didn’t matter what the situation was – more often than not, Strop delivered. He mixed his overpowering fastball with a devastating wipeout slider that made the game’s best hitters look foolish on a nightly basis.

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As Strop gets ready to square off against his former teammates this season, we’ll always remember the role he played in locking down the late innings at Wrigley Field. He helped bring a championship to Chicago and put out fires like he was a member of the Chicago Fire Department. #HatsToTheLeft forever. Thanks for everything, Pedro.