The Cubs picked up a huge win Thursday evening, but they also suffered a big loss. Pedro Strop left the game in the top of the 10th after coming up lame while trying to beat out a play at first base. The interim closer had come on with one out in the 8th and had already thrown 21 pitches, but Joe Maddon opted to have Strop bat for himself with the bases loaded and just one out.
The former infielder appeared to be cruising with low effort on his way to first, lunging at the end to nearly beat the throw. He hit the bag with his left foot and came up hobbling, though it wasn’t immediately apparent what he’d injured. Things became all too clear when Strop reached for the back of his leg and appeared to mouth, “Hamstring.”
Joe Maddon confirmed after the game that it was indeed a hamstring issue and that Strop is “probably out a while,” which is just about the worst possible news. While the Cubs do still have Steve Cishek and Justin Wilson, both of whom have closing experience, Strop’s loss puts that much pressure on a group of high-leverage relievers that hasn’t necessarily been nails.
Joe confirms Pedro Strop left hamstring soreness and probably out a while.
— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) September 14, 2018
That includes another former closer, Brandon Kintzler, and a guy many thought could be 9th inning material in Carl Edwards Jr. Randy Rosario came up big in the 10th to close this game out, but he’s not a viable option for that role unless it’s an emergency. Then there’s Brandon Morrow, who won’t be ready for big moments or long outings even if he indeed makes his planned return by the end of next week.
This is a circle-the-wagons situation if ever there was one. The Cubs are going to need some serious efforts from their starters in the coming days, then they’re going to need those key relievers to buckle down and pitch clean innings. That should go without saying for any team, but given the way things have gone for the ‘pen over the last week or two, I’d say it bears mentioning.
Here’s to hoping everything is minor and Strop can get back out there before the end of the season.