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Pedro Strop
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Spring Training Daily

ST Daily: Strop Sidelined

by David Shovein
Updated On: March 13, 2019, 4:19 am ET

Strop Sidelined

Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon dropped a bit of a mini bombshell on Tuesday when he announced that interim closer Pedro Strop has been dealing with a mild right hamstring strain. The 33-year-old suffered the injury when delivering his final pitch in Saturday’s Cactus League outing.

Maddon told reporters, "According to the MRI, it was like barely noticeable, so we don't think it's going to be anything horribly long," Maddon said. "But we don't know for sure. We'd like to think we're going to be able to get him ready for the beginning of the season. If not, maybe shortly thereafter."

It sounds like the plan is to have Strop continue to throw, but to avoid any mound work for the next week. If all goes according to plan and he’s able to avoid any setbacks, he could be ready in time for Opening Day. The higher likelihood seems to be that he’ll miss the first week or two of the regular season.

Fantasy owners have been scooping up the right-hander in the middle rounds of drafts, as he was expected to begin the season as the team’s closer with Brandon Morrow (elbow) expected to miss at least the first month of action.

Now, perhaps there’s a new face, or faces, that need to be on the radar. If Strop is forced to begin the season on the disabled list, Maddon still has some weapons at his disposal in the late innings. The intriguing arms who would then battle it out for save chances would seemingly be Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brad Brach.

All three are worthy of speculative adds in NL-only and deep mixed leagues, though none of them are expected to hold the job for long enough to make a major difference in saves.

Remember, Strop was very successful in the ninth-inning role for the Cubs after Morrow went down in 2018, posting a 1.78 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 23/8 K/BB ratio across 25 1/3 innings while converting 12 of his 14 save chances over the final three months of the season. Given Morrow's injury history, he seems like a poor bet to make it through an entire season intact. I still believe that if choosing to speculate on this bullpen, that Strop is still the guy that you want.

Martes Popped for PED’s

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that Astros’ prospect right-hander Frances Martes had been handed an 80-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The banned substance in question in this case is Clomiphene.

Martes was universally considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball before the 2017 season. His stock has taken a big hit though after a miserable 2017 season in the minor leagues followed by elbow troubles in 2018 that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery.

Martes is fortunate at least that the suspension isn’t going to cause him to miss any action on the field, as he’s still in the process of recovering from the aforementioned Tommy John surgery. The ban will begin at the beginning of the 2019 season and Martes isn’t expected to return until late in the year, if he even makes it back at all during the season.

Where it will hit Martes, is in the pocket book. He’ll go 80 games without pay to begin the season and he also won’t accrue any MLB service time while he’s on the injured list, as he’ll need to be removed from the 40-man roster while he’s on suspension. Ultimately, that will delay his arbitration years and is likely to cost him significant earnings down the line.

In addition, Martes will be unable to pitch in the postseason in 2019 should he make it back and the Astros happen to appear.

Run Run Robles

If Victor Robles entered spring training camp with something to prove, it looks like he has gone a long way toward silencing his doubters.

The 21-year-old speedster was supposed to be in an open competition with Michael Taylor for the team’s starting job in center field, but so far it has looked like a one-horse race.

The phenom was at it again in Tuesday’s game against the Astros, going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, two stolen bases and a run scored. He's now slashing .357/.472/.500 with a homer, 10 runs scored and five RBI in his first 28 at-bats of Grapefruit League play.

It’s the wheels though that have fantasy owners swooning. With his two swipes on Tuesday, Robles is up to five stolen bases on the spring. That comes on the heels of him stealing 22 bases in 73 games across four levels -- including the big leagues -- in 2018.

In this day and age, with speed being such a scarce commodity in fantasy leagues, it’s easy to see why Robles has snuck his way into the top 100 players overall in drafts over the last three weeks. He looks to be locked into the starting job in center field in Washington, and as long as he hits enough to remain in the lineup, he’s a very real threat to steal 30-40 bases.

The one major downside at the moment looks to be his lineup spot. He’s projected to bat eighth for a National League club, which is a major detriment to his runs scored and RBI potential.

There’s plenty of upside to be had here, but staking your claim to Robles inside the top-100 overall may not be for the faint of heart. Of course, if Adam Eaton suffers another extended injury and Robles winds up hitting near the top of the Nationals’ lineup, his value could soar.


American League Quick Hits: Austin Hays continued his hot hitting in Tuesday's Grapefruit League loss to the Yankees, going 2-for-3 with a double, homer and four RBI. He’s now hitting .355 (11-for-31) with four homers and 11 RBI on the spring and has seemed to run away with the starting job in right field. … Aaron Judge smacked his fourth Grapefruit League homer as the Yankees topped the Orioles. … Josh James (quad) threw 20-to-25 pitches during a live batting practice session on Tuesday without issue. … Jose Altuve (oblique) resumed participating in running drills on Tuesday and is expected to return to Grapefruit League action over the weekend. … Charlie Morton told Jon Morosi of MLB Network that he fully expects to retire once his current contract with the Rays expires. … CC Sabathia (heart) threw his first live bullpen session of the spring on Tuesday. … Aaron Sanchez hurled four shutout innings against the Rays on Tuesday and hasn’t been scored upon in 8 ⅔ innings on the spring… Danny Duffy (shoulder) is expected to throw 25-30 pitches off a mound on Wednesday. … David Price made his spring debut Tuesday, giving up two runs in three innings against the Tigers. … The Mariners released Dustin AckleyHunter Strickland (back) threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He’ll throw in an intersquad game on Wednesday and is expected to travel to Japan with the team. … Mallex Smith (elbow) and Gerson Bautista (pectoral) will not travel with the club for that opening series. … Mark Trumbo (knee) is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday. … The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin passes along that the Rays have "maintained regular contact" with free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel. … Ned Yost officially named Brad Keller his Opening Day starter. … Didi Gregorius (elbow) has been taking dry swings with a bat. … Yolmer Sanchez (shoulder) said that he expects to play on Wednesday. … Aaron Hicks (back) took a cortisone shot on Monday, but said he’s feeling better and isn’t worried about missing Opening Day. … Indians RHP prospect Triston McKenzie (back) is expected to miss about six weeks with an upper back strain. … Chris Sale is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday.

National League Quick Hits: Tyler Mahle was dominant in Tuesday's Cactus League victory over the Cubs, punching out five over three shutout innings. … Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted Tuesday that Buster Posey was scratched from serving as the team's designated hitter earlier in the week due to general tightness. He still believes that Posey will be able to catch on Opening Day, but reiterated that Posey is unlikely to handle his ordinary catching workload to begin the season. ... Madison Bumgarner pitched well in Tuesday's Cactus League victory over the Brewers, allowing two runs on seven hits over his five innings of work. … Stephen Strasburg punched out six over 4 ⅔ innings in a win over the Astros. ... Carter Kieboom crushed a pair of home runs off of Justin Verlander in that one and is now hitting .364 with three long balls and eight RBI on the spring. … Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell announced Tuesday that Jimmy Nelson (shoulder) will not be on the team’s Opening Day roster. He’s still expected to be ready to return at some point in April. … Carlos Martinez (shoulder) is expected to begin the season on the injured list and could pitch out of the bullpen initially upon his return. … Ronald Acuna went 3-for-3 and homered for the second consecutive game as the Braves shut out the Cardinals. … Jed Lowrie (knee) has resumed throwing and hitting programs this week in Mets camp. … Jameson Taillon made his spring debut Tuesday, allowing three runs in four innings versus the Twins… Trevor Richards fired five shutout innings in a victory over the Mets. … Jacob deGrom punched out six over five innings of two-run ball against the Marlins. … Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said that if Alex Reyes makes the Opening Day roster, he will work as a reliever to start. … Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that Jordan Lyles is still on track to be the team's fifth starter.