HOUSTON -- Cubs closer Pedro Strop could return for this weekend’s series in St. Louis if the injured left hamstring that has sidelined him since May 6 shows progress during a scheduled rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday in New Orleans.
“The big thing is how does his leg react,” manager Joe Maddon said. “You don’t know. When you go through bullpens, it’s hard to replicate. I’m big on listening to the player in this situation.
“Let him do his thing and then speak back to us. How do you feel? If he’s tested, do you need more testing to satisfy the doctor/trainer side? He’s feeling really good.”
Steve Cishek has gotten three saves and Tyler Chatwood one since Strop’s injury forced Maddon to rearrange his bullpen roles. He hopes Strop’s return will allow him to get back to more normal roles.
“The thing I’d like to do is get back to these guys pitching one inning primarily,” Maddon said. “Maybe four outs at the most if their numbers are good. I think part of this situation we got into was with these guys pitching multiple innings. Like Cishek [going] 2 1/3 [last week vs. the Nationals]. Didn’t throw a lot of pitches, but the up and down takes its toll.”
The Cubs will play their 26th game in 27 days when they finish a three-game series against the Astros on Wednesday. They’re off Thursday before a three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Memorial Day is the first major checkpoint for the standings, and with the Cubs having won 18 of their last 27 and spent almost this entire month alone stop the NL Central, Maddon likes what he sees.
“We’re in first by what, a game and a half?” he asked. “That’s not really significant. I’m just pleased we’ve played well overall. That’s all I look at. If you’re a good team that plays well daily, you’ve got a chance to sustain this. You can absorb some stuff like we did early on. We had a tough series in Cincinnati. I like the way we’re playing. We’ve only played maybe two bad games of the last 30. That’s not bad.”