Last night in the Cubs makeup game in Washington, Joe Maddon made one of his signature managerial moves. These have been known to be signature for all of the wrong reasons. For those who don’t know, Joe Maddon will not go in to the Hall of Fame for his in game managerial decisions.
In the top of the 10th, with the Cubs up 1 run and the bases loaded, Joe decided to let Pedro Strop hit for himself. He had already pitched 1.2 innings and had 21 pitches. Pedro came up as an infielder but the main reason he switched to pitching is because he could not hit a lick. In his 10 year career, he is 0-4. He is not someone you are expecting to increase the lead with in this situation. Well, let’s just say the absolute worst case scenario played out. Strop grounded in to a double play and tweaked his hamstring running to first base. He is expected to miss a few weeks during a pivotal time for the Chicago Cubs.
Now, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back at it, it was the wrong decision obviously. If Joe could have tapped into his inner Miss Cleo, he would have pinch hit and known Pedro would have been quite valuable during this stretch run. Joe Maddon is not Miss Cleo. He had no idea his relief pitcher would get hurt hitting. I would say the odds of that happening have to be under 10%.
The question comes down to this; would you rather have Pedro Strop pitching with a 1 run lead or anyone else in the bullpen pitching with POSSIBLY a 2+ run lead? With how this bullpen has been pitching, Pedro Strop is one of the few guys you can actually trust. Going back to hindsight being 20/20, Rosario obviously handled the bottom of the 10th and the Cubs won the game. It is easy to say Joe should have pinch hit and let Rosario take the ball in the bottom of the inning knowing how the game played out.
This was a must win game. As I stated previously, Joe has lost almost all trust in his bullpen. The Cubs have played a game the last 314 days in a row. The bullpen has been taxed the most from all of this. He felt most comfortable riding the hot hand of the most consistent pitcher from the bullpen in the last few years.
Joe Maddon does a horrendous job of handling his pitching staff. We all saw how he handled this in the 2016 World Series. They did not win because of his managerial skills. I am going to have his back on this decision. The previous inning the Cubs had the bases loaded with 1 out and two pinch hitters could not drive in a run. Losing Strop at this point of the season is DEVASTATING. I have said that multiple times because that’s how bad it is. He had been the Cubs acting closer while Morrow is gone and had done a great job. Brandon Morrow is supposed to come back sometime next week. Hopefully Carl Edwards snaps out of one of his many funks he happens to go in to and the rest of the bullpen can pick up the slack. Ideally, Pedro is back for the playoffs and everything clicks at the right time. This will take a lot of good luck but that is why they call those situations ideal.
End of the day, the Cubs won the game and picked up a half game on the surging Milwaukee Brewers. Someone else will need to step up in Strop’s absence. This one stings a lot but I have faith in this team from the North Side.