Pedro Strop is returning to the Cubs on minor league deal with the hopes he can add some stability to their bullpen.
The Chicago Cubs brought back a familiar face on Friday when the team signed RHP Pedro Strop to a minor league deal. Strop was designated for assignment by the Cincinnati Reds earlier this season on August 26. It is unclear if the veteran right-hander will contribute much to the team in the remaining 22 games, but he will undoubtedly get his shot.
Strop struggled with groin issues in Cincinnati and threw just 2 1/3 innings in four appearances this season before his release. The right-hander allowed just one earned run but walked six batters while striking three during his outings. There has also been a dip in his fastball velocity, which is usually in the 95-96 mile per hour range and has dropped below 92.
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Losing a little life on the arm is a natural thing that happens in the big leagues, the ones who stick around for a long-time find other ways to get batters out by executing their pitches consistently. Strop is experiencing this now and will have to do the same if he hopes to work his way back to the major-league level.
At 35-years old, Strop once played a pivotal role in Cubs’ bullpen since his arrival from 2013-19. Most might remember he was acquired with Jake Arrieta from the Orioles in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman in one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history. After struggling in Baltimore, Strop transformed himself into one of the best relievers this franchise has ever seen: 373 IP, 2.90 ERA, 425 K,147 BB.
Strop posted six straight seasons of a sub-three earned run average on the North Side and holds the record for most holds (120), second in strikeouts per nine innings (10.3) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.89), and third in ERA (2.90), among Cub relievers with at least 350 innings pitched. He also allowed no runs in his three appearances in the 2016 World Series.
It should go without saying, the Cubs do not need Strop to be the shutdown reliever of the past. If that happens, even better, but what they need is the right-hander to provide some middle-relief stability to their bullpen.
The man has practically seen it all in the big leagues–the lows of having a 7+ era with Baltimore, to the highs of raising a World Series trophy with the Cubs. That is some veteran experience that you cannot just find on the streets, and that leadership may prove to be as crucial to this bullpen down the stretch.