Cubs

Cubs think Pedro Strop has turned a corner against the Cardinals

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Cubs think Pedro Strop has turned a corner against the Cardinals

If you were looking for Pedro Strop at Wrigley Field Sunday, you probably couldn't find him because he was at the beach.

Joe Maddon joked Saturday that Strop earned himself some time off at the beach because he's been working so hard lately ... and the Cubs manager was true to his word:

 

 

"Strop is not available," Maddon said Sunday. "He'll be at the beach."

Maddon and Strop's Cubs teammates carried the same sentiment: Break well deserved.

Strop had worked in four of five Cubs games prior to Sunday. He came in to stop the bleeding Saturday and put an end to the Cardinals' rally.

[MORE: Cubs make another statement Saturday win over Cardinals]

Strop picked up the save in the Cubs' fifth straight win, but the more important thing was who he did it against.

The Cardinals have had Strop's number this season, but he tossed back-to-back shutout innings against St. Louis in the first two games of the weekend series at Wrigley.

"My numbers against them have not been the greatest, but you know what? That's in the past," Strop said. "I'm always looking forward and hopefully I can just keep doing my thing against them and against other teams, too."

Strop came into the year with a career 1.64 ERA and 1.00 WHIP against the Cardinals, allowing just two earned runs in 11 innings.

He also started the 2015 campaign with 1.1 shutout innings against the Cubs' division rival, but then the wheels came off.

In seven outings against the Cardinals from May 4 through Sept. 9, Strop allowed nine earned runs on eight hits (including two homers) and five walks in only four innings.

Maddon doesn't know exactly why the Cardinals - in particular - gave Strop fits, but he acknowledged it may be mental.

"Some of it's been pitch selection and what he's throwing in different counts," Maddon said. "Stuff's always good. I think it's like anything else.

"I've talked about us having to learn how to win in St. Louis and Pittsburgh and feeling good about it, but there are times where a player will see a team with a uniform on and automatically do well - or sometimes not so well - against that team regardless of who's in the uniform."

[MORE - Joe Maddon, Cubs tirade-free after ejections against Cardinals]

Maddon also believes Strop has gotten over the hump against the NL Central leaders, thanks in large part to working out of Saturday's two-on, no-out jam.

"I just think he had to get through some negative mental thoughts and push beyond that," Maddon said. "What he did [Saturday] was spectacular. That was not easy to do.

"So you gotta give him a lot of credit. What he did [Saturday], that's the thing you're looking for moving forward, to really have him feel much better about pitching against this team."

Strop couldn't put his finger on why exactly the Cardinals owned him for four months this season, but he was sure to tip his cap to a St. Louis organization that has been tough on nearly every opposing pitcher the last 15 years or so.

The Cubs are going to need to rely on Strop in the postseason, whether that's in the one-game wild card playoff or a five/seven-game series.

If the Cubs do advance beyond the wild-card game, they'll likely have another showdown with St. Louis awaiting them.

Strop is a fiery guy, known for his fist pumps and primal shouts. He loves being in a pennant race.

"This is awesome," he said. "Anybody should want this, pitching in this kind of situation where you know everything counts for a reason.

"This team hasn't been in this situation in a long time and I'm so happy to be a part of it."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Mailbag edition

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Mailbag edition

3:00 - Listener question: Espada or Ross? Kelly Crull shares some inside info on Joe Espada

7:30 - Kelly talks about David Ross' second interview for the Cubs managerial job.

11:30 - Listener question: Say it is Espada, do you see any way David Ross comes on as a coach behind Espada?

13:30 - Listener question: Could the team regress further due to a lack of familiarity with a new manager?

20:10 - Listener question: How hard will Theo and Jed go after Gerrit Cole? And if he's not available who else is?

23:30 - Listener question: Are you trying to extend Castellanos?

26:00 - Listener question: If you sign Castellanos are you also trading Kyle Schwarber?

28:45 - Listener question: Should the Cubs trade Kris Bryant? What would they get back in return?

33:00 - Lighting round: Will Nico Hoerner be the opening day second baseman and keep the job in 2020?

33:10 - Lightning round: Will the Cubs bring back Cole Hamels?

33:45 - Can we and should we clone Javy Baez so we have a fresh Javy when he retires, or is that unethical?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Cubs reportedly had second interview with David Ross

Cubs reportedly had second interview with David Ross

The Cubs' managerial search is in full swing as they continue to line up intriguing candidates to replace Joe Maddon. In recent weeks, Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada's name has been floated out as a strong candidate, with reports stating that the Cubs had already scheduled their second interview with the much sought after coach

While the fact that Espada is such a strong candidate in the midst of a World Series run has led many to believe he is the runaway favorite right now, it is still very much so a wide-open race. 

It was reported that while not extremely publicized, former Cub David Ross is believed to have had his second interview with the Cubs organization this week. 

Ross, who was extremely clutch in the Cubs 2016 World Series win, has an obvious and extended history with the organization. And while there are no concrete reports on the nature of any follow-up discussions between Ross and the Cubs, it was stated that the two sides have in fact at least had those expanded conversations.

As Kelly Crull hinted at in her tweet, Ross's position with the franchise definitely makes his negotiations about the managerial opening a bit more fluid, which may lead to fewer updates on his specific discussions with the team.  

Ross and Espada certainly sound like the favorites to land the Cubs' managerial opening, as our own David Kaplan stated that manager Joe Girardi, who has been connected to the Cubs throughout this search, looks like the front-runner for the Philadephia Phillies managerial spot. 

The 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros kicks off on Tuesday night. Traditionally you do not see MLB franchises make their managerial hiring announcements during the World Series,  so the Cubs' announcement could come on one of the World Series off-days, as early as Thursday. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.