Pedro Strop is the man, any Chicago Cubs fan who doesn’t realize this is fooling themselves. You tilt, I tilt, we all tilt our hats to the left in true Pedro style.
Position: Relief Pitcher
2018 Stats: An ERA of 2.26, with a WHIP of 0.99, a FIP of 3.39, a DRA- of 82.0, a DRA of 3.67, and a WARP of 0.9.
Year in Review: To put it simply, Strop was excellent in 2018. That’s how he’s been his entire Cubs career, and he shows no signs of letting up. It’s sometimes hard to write about Strop’s time with the Cubs because there are only so many ways you can say that a pitcher was great. Luckily, 2018 added a new wrinkle to Strop’s tenure with the Cubs: he became the closer.
When Brandon Morrow went down with an injury midway through 2018, it was only natural for Strop to be slotted into the closer role. He had done some minimal fill-in closing for the Cubs through the years. This was different though, Strop wasn’t just filling in, he was taking on the closer role for an indefinite amount of time. Naturally, there was some concern over whether or not the Dominican Republic native would be able to handle the change in roles. The thing is, this is Pedro Strop we’re talking about and any doubt placed on how he would fare in a more permanent closer role was straight up crazy talk.
As closer Strop was his usual excellent self. He provided the Cubs with a sense of security in tough end of game situations. He used his powerful four-seam fastball and wipeout slider to help keep the Cubs in the driver’s seat of the National League Central Division. Then, one day Joe Maddon decided to have Stropy (yes, I am that guy) bat in the extra innings of a game against the Washington Nationals. Being the competitor he is Strop decided to try and beat out a double play. In the process, he pulled a hamstring and spent the final part of the season on the disabled list.
The former Gigantes del Cibao hurler returned for the NL Wild Card game. He pitched one inning in the team’s loss to the Colorado Rockies. He pitched hurt and in a lot of pain. That didn’t stop Strop from being lights out and full of energy. It was only one game, but as has become the norm with Pedro, he was wonderful in that one inning and made everyone else around him better.
Looking Ahead: Look for more of the same from Strop in 2019. There’s no indication that his production will drop off. I’m sure some of the projection models will predict him to slip a bit, but that’s what they tend to do. This is one instance where looking at past performance and knowing the type of player Pedro Strop is. I see no reason to trust any predictions of regression for Strop. In 2019, Strop will more than likely move back into a setup role with the team. He’ll do so and be lights out, just like he always has been with the team. Hats to the left my friends, hats always to the left.
Lead photo courtesy Jayne Kamin-Oncea—USA Today Sports