#MLBPlayers411 | Pedro Strop
While his and other contending clubs were making deals to bolster their relief corps in the weeks leading to the non-waiver trade deadline, Pedro “Stropy” Strop (\strope/) was busy making the Cubs' bullpen better from the inside as they make a push to take control of the NL Central.
A flame-throwing right-hander who wears his hat crooked, Strop, today's #MLBPlayers411 subject, has a 0.87 ERA over 10.1 innings since the All-Star break. The home run he gave up to Hunter Pence in the Cubs' loss on Wednesday afternoon was the first run he's allowed in the second half.
With Strop – or Stropy as he's nicknamed on his Players Weekend jersey – performing well and the addition of left-hander Justin Wilson from the Tigers, the Cubs' pen is situated well as it settles in for a pennant race and possibly the postseason.
On top of his game with his club on top of the standings, the game has never been better than it is now for the 32-year-old Dominican who signed a contract extension through 2018 (with a club option for 2019) after helping the Cubs to the World Series championship in 2016.
"I love this team and feel really part of this and I love the fans and the city of Chicago," Strop said after signing the deal. "There are a bunch of teams that need closers and stuff like that. I know I can close and stuff like that, but at the same time, I feel happy I'm here. I don't care the role or whatever, I just like to be here."
Strop's path getting to this point, however, has been filled with obstacles and challenges since signing with the Rockies as a teen-ager in San Cristobal more than 15 years ago.
He was actually a shortstop in those days, but he had just a .208 batting average after his first three seasons of Class-A ball with the Rockies' organization and realized he needed to try pitching to save what hope he had of playing Major League Baseball.
"When you're a shortstop and they start moving you all around, to second and third, you know it's not good," Strop told the Baltimore Sun in 2012.
Starting over as a pitcher, Strop had made it all the way to Double-A by 2008 before a stress fracture in his throwing elbow – which required the placement of an inch-long screw in his elbow -- cut that season short.
The Rockies designated him for assignment before he could come back. Signed by the Rangers, Strop worked on altering his unusual delivery and made his MLB debut the following year. He bounced between the majors and Triple-A the next three seasons.
"All of that made me tougher," Strop told the Sun after being traded to the Orioles in September 2011. "That's the way I see it. I'm tougher now that I've gone through all those things. God wanted me to go through all that to make me the man I am right now. That's the way I see it."
The trade that brought Strop and Jake Arrieta to the Cubs from the Orioles in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman turned out to be a key transaction in building the Cubs first World Series-winning team since 1908. He was 2-2 with a 2.85 ERA and 27 holds in 54 games last season.
With a key role in an improved bullpen, Strop is helping the Cubs make another run for the NL Central title.
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