Pedro Strop had a bad year. This, you know.
Except he really didn’t, and I’ll explain. I’m here to argue that the Cubs ought to bring back Strop for another season in 2020.
Strop had two stints on the injured list, one for a hamstring injury (on the other leg from the hamstring injury he suffered late in 2018) and one for “left neck tightness.” It’s pretty clear in looking at Strop’s numbers that these injuries had quite a bit to do with the poor statistical year he had in 2019.
You have probably forgotten — since we’d like to forget most of the 2019 season — that Strop actually started off the year pretty well. He allowed runs in his first two appearances, but through his first 11: 2.53 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, 11 strikeouts and two walks in 10⅔ innings. He had posted four saves with one blown save (and the Cubs won that blown save game).
That sounds pretty much like the Strop the Cubs had from 2013-18, right?
On May 6 against the Marlins, Strop entered in the ninth for a save chance. He walked the first two hitters, allowed a single loading the bases and then walked in a run. Kyle Ryan relieved him and though Ryan is shown in the boxscore with a scoreless inning, it was his defensive miscue that helped the Marlins score a key insurance run. The runs were all charged to Strop, though only one scored while he was in the game.
Two days later Strop was placed on the injured list with the hamstring injury. It’s not clear exactly when that was suffered in his four-batter appearance May 6, but it kept him on the shelf for more than four weeks. He made three scoreless rehab appearances for Triple-A Iowa and returned June 4.
And in 12 appearances from June 4 through July 6: 2.70 ERA, 0.900 WHIP, 11 strikeouts in 10 innings. Again, this seems very much like the pre-2019 Strop.
Right after the All-Star break, Strop again began to get hit hard. His first six outings after the break: 11.12 ERA, 1.765 WHIP, two home runs, .320 opponents BA. He made two more scoreless appearances after that before going on the IL again July 30 (retroactive to July 27) with neck tightness.
This time, he came back without any rehab outings and had a horrid August: seven appearances, 9.00 ERA, 2.400 WHIP, just five innings, most of them in low-leverage situations.
The Pedro Strop of September, though, was again more like pre-2019 Pedro: 11 appearances, nine innings, 2.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, three hits allowed (six walks), 14 strikeouts. According to this Sahadev Sharma article in The Athletic, Strop did in fact begin to look like his old self in September:
Strop, a free agent but leader and rock in the bullpen, battled injuries and command all year long. But his velocity started to tick up in September — his 38.9 percent strikeout rate was his best mark of the year, his nine innings pitched gave him his second-most productive month, and one scout commented that during a mid-September appearance, his sinker seemed to be moving like it was at its best.
In Strop’s last outing of the year, September 28 vs. the Cardinals, he allowed a home run but struck out the side. Here’s Dexter Fowler striking out on a 95 mile per hour fastball from Strop [VIDEO].
That was Strop’s final pitch of 2019. I think he’s got some of that left in him, certainly enough to bring him back on a one-year deal, perhaps with a team option for 2021. As noted in Sharma’s article, Pedro is a team leader, something the Cubs could use with a new manager coming in. He’s well-respected on the team and popular with the fanbase. I wrote here in 2018 that Strop is one of the best relievers in Cubs history. I think he’s earned the chance to redeem one bad year and go out on a high note. And, as noted above, he did have long stretches of 2019 where he actually pitched well, and wound up the season with his best K rate (10.6 per nine innings) since 2016.
A one-year deal for $5 million with a $5 million option ($1 million buyout) for 2021. What do you say?
This poll is closed
... one year, $5 million, with a $5 million option (or $1 million buyout) for 2021
... sign him, but for less money and/or years than that
... thank him for his service and let him hit free agency
... something else (leave in comments)