What to Know
- Strop missed the final three weeks of the regular season, but did pitch a scoreless inning in the NL Wild Card Game.
- Strop revealed Thursday that he was pitching in "severe pain" during the game.
- Strop will likely be the team's closer to start the 2019 campaign due to an injury to Brandon Morrow.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop was last seen gutting through a strong performance in the National League Wild Card Game, but apparently he wasn’t really feeling all that great when he took the mound.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the team’s spring training facility, Strop admitted that he was pitching in “severe pain” during that game against the Rockies, and he told ESPN that he pretended he was okay so that manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t take him out of the game.
“(I didn’t feel better) until a month after I pitched,” he said. “It was mid-November when I started being able to run pain free.”
Strop pulled a hamstring during the stretch run for the Cubs, and missed the remainder of the regular season after suffering the injury while running to first base in a game against the Washington Nationals.
The hurler was able to pitch in the Wild Card Game, registering two strikeouts and pitching a scoreless inning, but it wasn’t enough as the Cubs lost in extra innings.
Now, Strop is back and ready to embrace whatever role the Cubs have envisioned for him. He will likely be in the mix to close games as Brandon Morrow continues to work his way back from an arm injury, but he also knows that there are other players in the bullpen that could take that job as well.
“We have the best bullpen in the National League,” he said. “Whatever they decide to do, we’re ready to do it and we’re ready to compete. If I’m the closer, that’s fine. I’m willing to take the challenge and pick my boys up.”
Strop singled out Steve Cishek and Carl Edwards Jr. as players that could potentially close for the Cubs, citing Cishek’s experience and Edwards’ powerful arm as reasons they could take the job.
Chicago Baseball: Spring Training in Photos
Despite Strop’s confidence, some outside observers don’t think the Cubs have much of a chance this season, with Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections suggesting that the team will finish in last place in the National League Central.
Strop, like many of his teammates, disputed that notion, saying that the only thing that matters is where the team finishes the season.
“I don’t care about any of that,” he said. “I don’t care if we’re on the radar or not. You’re still going to have to play the games, and we’ll find out whether we’re on the radar after the season.”