The Cubs may have won the battle Thursday in Washington D.C., but it came at a serious cost in their hopes of winning the "war" (aka another World Series).
Pedro Strop will miss at least a couple weeks after injuring his hamstring during Thursday's 4-3 Cubs win at Nationals Park.
Strop came into the game with one out in the eighth inning and then pitched the entire ninth. The Cubs took the lead in the top of the 10th and manager Joe Maddon opted to let Strop hit for himself with the bases loaded and one out, with an eye on at least facing the first batter in the bottom of the 10th.
Strop hit a groundball to Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon, who fired home to get the lead runner and catcher Matt Wieters relayed to first, where the Nationals got the Cubs pitcher by a hair. But Strop came up limping on the play, pointing to his left hamstring.
Randy Rosario came on to close out the victory and push the Cubs 1.5 games up in the division, but the reports on Strop were not good.
He'll be sidelined at least a couple weeks with the hamstring injury and will undergo an MRI Friday:
Strop will get MRI but expects to miss at least a couple weeks. Maddon doesn't know who will close in his place.— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) September 14, 2018
Strop has been a lifesaver for the Cubs this season, stepping in as closer with Brandon Morrow on the disabled list the entire second half of the season.
In that time, Strop has locked down the ninth inning, going 11-for-13 in save chances and he picked up his sixth win of the season Thursday.
The Cubs have already been against the ropes lately with an exhausted bullpen that has been short on reliable options for Maddon. Now they'll be without Strop for an indeterminate amount of time that very well could carry into the playoffs. The regular season ends two weeks from this Sunday.
Morrow is working toward a return, but even in a best case scenario, he wouldn't be back until next Friday (Sept. 21). There's also a question how effective he'll be as he is still not 100 percent after a bone bruise in his forearm.
Whenever Morrow returns, the Cubs will script his first few game appearances and have already said he will not regain the closer's role immediately.
As for who closes in Strop's place, Maddon said, "I have no idea. All of those guys are on fumes."
The Cubs do not have another off-day until next Thursday and have had to lean heavily on top relievers like Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson and Jesse Chavez lately as Carl Edwards Jr. tries to right the ship during a recent bout of struggles.
This is time of year where the bullpen becomes a central focus of every contending team as they battle down the stretch and into October.
If ever there was a time for the Cubs to put together some blowout wins to reduce the pressure and give guys a day or two of rest, it would be this weekend against the Reds at Wrigley Field.