HELLO, STRANGER: STROP RETURNS
One of the most popular and important members of the Cubs’ bullpen over the last seven seasons is back in the organization.
According to multiple reports, Pedro Strop agreed to return to the Cubs. Strop, who will report to South Bend, spent 2013-19 with the team, compiling a 2.90 ERA.
Over the offseason, he agreed to a one-year deal with the Reds. But he had a 3.86 ERA in four appearances before going on the 10-day injured list Aug. 11 with a right groin strain. He was designated for assignment Aug. 26 before getting his release Wednesday.
After being cut loose, Strop was also rumored to be heading to the White Sox.
The Cubs originally acquired him from the Orioles in 2013 as part of the trade that also brought Jake Arrieta. From 2013 to 2018, Strop never had an ERA higher than 2.91. But last season, his ERA ballooned to 4.97 in 50 appearances.
Schwarber at the top
With Ian Happ out of the starting lineup, Cubs manager David Ross explained what he liked about having Kyle Schwarber lead off Friday’s series opener against the Cardinals.
“All of the success he’s had in that spot,” Ross said. “No, I’m just kidding.”
Friday was Schwarber’s first time batting leadoff this season; entering the game, he was a career .215 hitter there. In 2017, Schwarber hit just .190 batting first. Last year, he struggled to a .229 average in the No. 1 slot.
After laughing at his joke, Ross explained the decision. “I like Schwarbs — he’s been one of our best hitters,” Ross said. “I love his atbats. I love him at the top. He’s going to set the tone for us . . . with Happer out. I have a ton of confidence in him. It looked good to me on paper, and [he’s] somebody that I feel like is going to set our tone and bring some damage with some on-base. I like him up there as close to the top as we can get him.”
Right fielder Jason Heyward was named the Cubs’ nominee for the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award on Thursday. He has been involved with Future Ties, a South Side non-profit that supports low-income families. Additionally, he has donated $300,000 to non-profits addressing inequities during the pandemic, as well as $95,000 to Cubs team and player charities. Heyward said it’s “huge” to give back. “We’re not seeking the spotlight, but it’s great to bring some awareness and kind of reward some people who are doing a lot of hard work behind the scenes — especially when we’re talking about the COVID stuff people have been dealing with all year in this country and obviously across the world,” Heyward said. “In the city of Chicago right here, home for us, a lot of people are doing a lot of good things to keep us afloat.
“Talking about the West Side of Chicago, the South Side of Chicago, the battles that are going on there, it’s not right for us to complain and talk about how many deaths there are and then not go do something.”
Adbert Alzolay will start Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Cardinals. Game 2 will be handled by the bullpen. ✶
Willson Contreras hits a two-run single in the first inning Friday night against the Cardinals.