Strop could be next in line as Cubs closer

Strop could be next in line as Cubs closer

July 20, 2013, 9:45 pm
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DENVER – Does anyone want this job?

The Cubs bullpen has blown 19 saves this season, and that made selling at the trade deadline such an easy decision for the front office. Dealing closer Kevin Gregg is a top priority, and lefty James Russell has also been mentioned in the rumors. 

Carlos Marmol got booed out of Chicago, traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and stashed in their minor-league system. Kyuji Fujikawa is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Shawn Camp – one of manager Dale Sveum’s MVPs last season – got released.   

When/if the Cubs have to replace Gregg (18 saves), they could turn to Pedro Strop, who was acquired on July 2 in the Scott Feldman deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Another change-of-scenery pitcher has begun his Cubs career by putting together eight scoreless appearances.

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“He’d obviously be one of the higher candidates, just because he’s pitched in high-profile games already in the big leagues,” Sveum said. “He’s got the velocity. He’s got a strike slider. He’s got a wipeout slider. So he’s got the stuff to do it. 

“Like I said before: Somebody’s got to do it. So you have to give somebody a chance.”

Strop has a 95 mph fastball and seems to have regained the feel for his slider, looking more like the reliable setup guy from 2012 (2.44 ERA in 70 games) and not the pitcher who heard the boos at Camden Yards this season (7.25 ERA).

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Strop has shown why he once succeeded in the American League East, becoming an important part of Baltimore’s surprise playoff team last year.  

“Those are the kind of guys that you want out there – a guy that’s not scared,” Sveum said. “He has a good time when he’s on the mound and he’s not scared of anything. It’s just a nice asset to have.”