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Cubs anticipating bolstered 'pen down stretch

Rondon expected to be activated Tuesday, with Strop following shortly
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MILWAUKEE -- Hector Rondon, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 17 with a right triceps strain, is expected to be activated on Tuesday and return to the Cubs' bullpen.

The Cubs are hopeful reliever Pedro Strop, on the DL with a meniscus tear in his left knee, will return in time to appear in five or six games before the playoffs begin. Manager Joe Maddon said he will ease both Rondon and Strop into non-stressful game situations as much as possible.

Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE -- Hector Rondon, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 17 with a right triceps strain, is expected to be activated on Tuesday and return to the Cubs' bullpen.

The Cubs are hopeful reliever Pedro Strop, on the DL with a meniscus tear in his left knee, will return in time to appear in five or six games before the playoffs begin. Manager Joe Maddon said he will ease both Rondon and Strop into non-stressful game situations as much as possible.

Full Game Coverage

The Cubs' bullpen threw 14 scoreless innings in the four-game series against the Giants, including eight shutout innings on Sunday. One reliever who has shined is rookie right-hander Carl Edwards Jr.

Video: SF@CHC: Edwards Jr. records first save of his career

"He has the potential to be a premier reliever in this league, period," Maddon said. "The fastball velocity and cut is an unusual combination, and combine that with a curveball that's good against both righties and lefties, [it's effective]."

Bullpen of the Week: Cubs separate from pack

• Lefty Mike Montgomery will close the Cubs' series against the Brewers on Wednesday, making his fourth start as the sixth man. Maddon said Montgomery is penciled in to pitch on Sept. 14 against the Cardinals, giving the Cubs a six-man rotation for another turn.

"There is some flexibility," Maddon said Monday.

Video: CHC@COL: Montgomery allows one hit in 4 1/3 innings

Even with the extra starter, Cubs pitchers such as Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester should reach their goal of 200 innings. Arrieta is at 174 innings while Lester has 169. The addition of Montgomery is to make sure the other starters aren't overworked heading into the postseason.

"There's the altruistic component -- Cubs win the World Series -- and there's the individual component -- 'I want this,'" Maddon said. "I want to believe our guys are more into the altruism of the moment as opposed to the individual element."

• Heading into Monday's game, the Cubs have allowed the second-most stolen bases in the National League this season, with 116. Maddon said that can be corrected.

"It's just an awareness factor," Maddon said. "We have to be more aware who's the baserunner, what the situation is. We have pitchers who can be a little tardy to the plate, but there are other ways to get that done."

One element that's improved the Cubs' chances is having Javier Baez at second base. The infielder is stellar at making quick tags on basestealers.

Video: CHC@MIL: Montero nabs Nieuwenhuis stealing second

"You should always apply a hard tag whenever you have the chance to do it," Maddon said. "[Baez] does it all the time."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago Cubs, Jake Arrieta, Javier Baez, Carl Edwards Jr., Jon Lester, Mike Montgomery, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop