"Pedro Strop Day" could not have come at a better time.
The Cubs' affable veteran reliever smiles and laughs every single day he's at the ballpark anyways, but he had plenty of reason for a bounce in his step Sunday morning after notching saves in back-to-back games.
Strop has been locking down the closer's role for the last couple weeks with Brandon Morrow on the shelf and shut down the Padres in the ninth inning both Friday and Saturday afternoon.
As they're about to embark on a quick three-day trip a few hours south to Kansas City, the Cubs thought it'd be the perfect time for a theme day. And not just any theme, but a "Dress Like Pedro Strop" trip, mimicking the flashy, loud wardrobe of the team's longest-tenured reliever.
This is the brainchild of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who is a big fan of having his teams play dress-up on road trips, but has toned it down a bit this season.
"Of course nobody — NOBODY — could actually be Pedro Strop," Maddon said. "But we can all attempt to be.
"I've been after it for a while. I always thought it'd be great to have a Pedro Strop look-a-like road trip."
Be like Strop. pic.twitter.com/ZKCvUq5jV1— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 5, 2018
Maddon is bummed because he ordered an Egyptian snake necklace for the occasion, but it didn't arrive in time.
Still, the theme promises to deliver some laughs.
Strop was handing out gold chains and wacky hats at his locker for anybody that needed one. He was most excited to see Randy Bush all dressed up because he picked out the entire outfit for the Cubs front office executive.
Ben Zobrist entered the clubhouse Sunday morning with ripped jeans and a pair of bright-green shoes with wings — yes wings — coming out of the sides.
Strop knew it wouldn't be difficult to pick out his most "Pedro Strop" outfit from his closet, but he made sure to select something particularly "loud."
At the very least, this is a great, light-hearted tribute to the longest-tenured member of the Cubs bullpen, a guy fellow reliever Steve Cishek calls "a beast."
This is the dude who celebrates walk-offs by high-stepping along with Kris Bryant down the third-base line:
Strop has been a model of consistency since he came over from the Baltimore Orioles in the trade with Jake Arrieta in the middle of the 2013 season, never posting an ERA over 2.91 or WHIP over 1.17 in a Cubs uniform. He's racked up 112 holds and 13 saves over those six seasons, including a career-high 7 saves this year.
Maddon attributes a lot of that sustained success to Strop's sheer physical strength and ability to keep his arm healthy.
"He puts the ball on the ground and he has a wipeout slider that works against righties and lefties," Maddon said. "So I think the fact that he's been healthy and as strong as he is with really dominant stuff — he has the kind of stuff that can be closer stuff, but he's so valuable being able to move him around.
"If you look at his numbers over the last several years, he's probably as consistent as any reliever in baseball."
But Strop doesn't only want his impact on the team to be felt on the days he pitches.
He looks at himself as an ambassador of morale within the clubhouse.
"We have fun," he said. "That's part of the game. I don't want to go home 10 years from now and when my kids ask me, 'Hey Papi, did you have fun when you played?' I want to say yes.
"I try to put my teammates in the same mood every time. Sometimes you're in a bad mood, but I make sure they're in a good mood by the time they go and pitch."
When asked about how he has his own personal road trip theme in tribute of his style and personality, Strop couldn't do much by smile ear-to-ear and shrug.
"It's just me," he said. "They accept me the way I am and I love the way they accept me."