Thursday, September 19, 2013
Strop swappin role
By Joe Kaiser
Through little fault of his own, Kevin Gregg is out as the Chicago Cubs' closer for the rest of the season. Taking his place is 28-year-old righty Pedro Strop, who has pitched well in a setup role and now essentially gets to audition for the Cubs' closer job in 2014.
“Kevin’s done far and above the call of duty,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said today, per Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. “He’s done one heck of a job. It’s going to be an opportunity [for Strop]. We want to see what he does in that role. Kevin has been one of the better closers in all of baseball. God knows where we’d be without him.”
As the Cubs' skipper indicated, the veteran right-hander was one of the few pleasant surprises on the Cubs this season, signing with the club after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of spring training. But with a career-best 2.95 ERA and 32 saves to his credit in 2013, the impending free agent is in for a big pay raise in 2014 and may be tough to bring back, especially with clubs like Seattle and Houston eager to shore up their bullpen with veteran arms.
If Strop can show that he's capable of handling the closer role the rest of the way, he's someone who -- entering his first arbitration year this winter -- would be a much cheaper option. And that'd be huge for a Cubs team still expected to be a year or two away from contention.