Let me preface by saying that this is not a post suggesting Pedro Strop is the greatest reliever of all time, or even that he is by any means infallible. However, the way a certain segment of Cubs fans talks about the reliever is simply absurd.
During his tenure in Chicago, I have heard talk of releasing Strop, trading him for peanuts, sending him to the minors, and more suggestions of the like. I know the job of a reliever is often a thankless one, with perhaps the most fickle assessments of any position in baseball. But in Strop’s case, I simply can’t tolerate it any longer.
I am here to ask you, nay, implore you: please stop taking Pedro Strop for granted.
The hard-throwing reliever was traded to the Cubs from the Orioles in July on 2013 in the trade that also included that Jake Arrieta guy. In 35 innings for the Cubs that first season, Strop posted a 2.83 ERA with 10.80 K/9.
In the time since, Strop has never posted an ERA over 3.00 (2014 – 2.21 / 2015- 2.91 / 2016 – 2.85). But let’s take a look at where he ranks among fellow relief pitchers since his first full season with the Cubs in 2014.
Here’s a look at Strop’s stats and how they compare to all 211 relievers that have thrown at least 100 innings since 2014.
ERA – 25th (2.62)
BAA – 6th (.173)
FIP – 32nd (3.05)
Holds – 4th (86)
K/9 – 37th (10.57)
WAR – 33rd (3.4)
On batting average against in particular, here are the names of the five pitchers ahead of Strop: Wade Davis, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Craig Kimbrel, and Andrew Miller. Not bad company to keep, eh?
And how about the 2017 campaign? I’m actually happy to be writing this on an evening in which Strop gave up runs in his performance earlier this afternoon because it should demonstrate that even after a bad outing, his numbers are still good. After Friday’s game (in which he gave up three earned runs), he is sporting a 3.02 ERA/3.52 FIP which would still place him around 54th/60th among qualified relievers in what would currently be his worst season as a Cub.
To summarize, Pedro Strop is, and has been, one of the better relief pitchers in baseball since joining the Cubs in the summer of 2013. Is he perfect? No. Is he the best reliever in the league? No. But does his performance warrant some of the hyperbolic language that often follows any outing in which he gives up runs? Absolutely not. Being a reliever is a tough business, and Strop has been one of the most durable (37th most IP since 2014) and successful such pitchers in baseball for years now.
Oh, and one last thing…Hats to the left.