After throwing an uneventful 20-pitch simulated game prior to Tuesday’s win over Cincinnati, Pedro Strop is set to be activated from the DL this Friday when the Cubs open a three-game set with the Cardinals. He had been on track to come back ahead of schedule from surgery to repair a torn meniscus (ouch!) suffered while sliding to make a play back on August 10. Then he strained his right groin (that’s not fun) while working out and was placed back on the original timetable.
What a luxury it’s been for the Cubs to not only have a strong bullpen, but to have enough of a division lead that they were able to really exercise caution and patience with the fiery fireballer. Given his infamous celebratory gesticulations, the last thing you’d want is to send him out on a bum wheel. Come to think of it, I’m amazed the guy hasn’t torn his arm clean off after a particularly high-leverage strikeout.
Seeing Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon imitate their bullpen buddy in the “Kidding around with the Cubs” segment on the left field video board was pretty hilarious, and you could tell that both were taking it easy on the motions lest they end up on shelf themselves. If I’m a potential NLDS opponent, though, the lighthearted clip would play like something from a Rob Zombie flick. Maybe that’s why the Mets, Giants, and Cards seem unwilling to take hold of the Wild Card at this point.
There’s been plenty of talk about what could go wrong in the Cubs’ quest for a World Series title, but what about all the things that have to go right for the other teams? Joe Maddon has got significant leeway when it comes to Grimm, Carl Edwards, Jr., Strop, Rondon, and Aroldis Chapman. Of course, the Cubs skipper will need all the slack he can get if he keeps throwing Travis Wood out there against righties (it worked Tuesday night, but that was one batter and it’s the Reds).
The moral of the story here is that the best team in baseball just got a little better and Strop will have further opportunities to make his dead relatives proud while entertaining us with his lively repertoire and livelier revelry.