ST. LOUIS - Jake Arrieta can't go the distance in every game for the Cubs this postseason.
Joe Maddon and the Cubs aren't going to win it all without relying on the bullpen.
As they proved in the last two head-to-head series in the regular season, this Cubs team can beat the Cardinals.
But can Pedro Strop and the bullpen hold onto leads with the pressure of the playoffs on the line?
Strop's struggles against the Cardinals this season are well-documented; he finished with an 11.05 ERA against St. Louis in 11 games, surrendering nine earned runs in 7.1 innings.
But that doesn't mean Maddon is scared to turn to his top setup man at a time of the year when a bullpen can be the difference between an early exit or an extended run toward a championship.
"I'm not worried [about Strop]," Maddon said Thursday. "I mean that sincerely. The guy's got great stuff. He has had some problems here; I can't deny that.
"But at the end of the day, man, it just takes one really good outing to get you over the top."
Did Strop already have that outing?
The 30-year-old righty posted back-to-back shutout appearances against the Cardinals in mid September, though those games were at Wrigley Field.
At Busch Stadium, Strop has surrendered seven runs and has gotten just six outs in five games.
"There are really good matchups for him vs. this team," Maddon said. "Just gotta go out there and process it slowly and that's what we'll ask him to do.
"But I'm not going to run away from him in this ballpark or against this team if it's the right situation."
Closer Hector Rondon has allowed just one run in eight innings to the Cardinals this season, but Maddon is going to need more than just one guy against the game's only 100-win team and will be without one of the most experienced options out of the bullpen in Jason Motte.
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Motte has been sidelined since late August with a shoulder issue and Maddon said the 33-year-old veteran is not quite ready to return.
"We're still trying to get him ready to be able to pitch for us," Maddon said. "He's not going to be on the roster right now.
"So we're trying to get creative in regards to getting him well and healthy so if we continue, we can make an informed decision whether to use him or get him on the roster or not."