Getting into playoff shape, Pedro Strop passed another test that put him on the verge of rejoining the Cubs bullpen after the series of injuries that have sidelined him for six weeks.
“Everything was just perfect,” Strop said after throwing around 20 pitches during Tuesday’s simulated game at Wrigley Field, a development that might have more October ramifications than the real game the Cubs played against the last-place Cincinnati Reds that night.
The Cubs plan to activate Strop on Friday and have him face the St. Louis Cardinals that afternoon in a potential playoff preview. From there, the Cubs anticipate the hard-throwing right-hander to need only four more innings before the postseason.
Strop — who has a 2.89 ERA and 21 holds — tore the meniscus in his left knee on Aug. 10 and later strained his right groin during the recovery process. The Cubs survived with Carl Edwards Jr.’s development, Justin Grimm’s reemergence and Aroldis Chapman’s intimidating ninth-inning presence.
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Once the Cubs get through this weekend’s series against the Cardinals in Wrigleyville — which will have a direct impact on the wild-card race — look for manager Joe Maddon to follow more of a script on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati.
The Cubs are leaning toward a bullpen night next week at PNC Park, and the game score and situation won’t dictate Strop’s appearances. Think of it like spring training for the National League Central champions.
“Stropy’s fine,” Maddon said. “It would just be a matter of being sharp, because physically he’s fine. He moved around well, he covered the bases well, fielded his position well. There was no holding back anything. That could be very important for us.”