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The Chicago Cubs are yet to decide which relievers will break camp with the team next week. With several pieces in place, it’s down to Stitched Chicago Cubs Jerseys the guys on the fringe – and those decisions look likely to come down to the wire.
Craig Kimbrel will enter the season as Chicago’s closer. Though Kimbrel’s first few outings were awful, his last two have looked better. If the right-hander can continue to improve, he will surely be fit for the team’s closer role. Brandon Workman, Dan Winkler and Ryan Tepera will likely receive spots as far as right-handers go. Southpaw Andrew Chafin seems like a lock regarding lefties, and Brad Wieck is equipped to compete for another lefty spot.
Still, the North Siders still have a couple spots to fill. One of those spots needs to go to 35-year old Pedro Strop.
Pedro Strop has what it takes to benefit the Chicago Cubs bullpen in 2021.
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After signing late and missing significant time because of violating COVID-19 protocol, Strop finally made his first appearance for Chicago. He looked good, but the late start could impact his chances of making the roster.
Still vying for a bullpen spot, Strop pitched for Chicago on Saturday, and he looked nothing short of his classic Cubs self. In this outing, Strop gave up a walk, an infield single and two pop-ups. The lone run Strop gave up was scored on a wild pitch. While this was only one outing, his velocity alone could be a sign that the veteran still has something to offer.
In camp on a minor league deal, Strop’s debut comes with just a week left in spring training. With guys like Rowan Wick sidelined, there’s an opportunity here – but Strop will have to look sharp in any subsequent appearances to have a chance of breaking camp with the club. This offseason, Chicago went with a quantity over quality approach in assembling a pitching staff, so there’s intense competition for every spot.
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NEXT: Exploring the limited left-handed options in the bullpen
If Strop can stay healthy after back-to-back injury-plagued seasons, he could be an asset to the Cubs. Perhaps his return to Chicago and being able to play with familiar faces will help him turn back the clock and play a critical role out of the pen one last time.