Strop set to rejoin Cubs' bullpen Friday

Right-hander will see game action before postseason begins

Strop set to rejoin Cubs' bullpen Friday

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' bridge to closer Aroldis Chapman is nearly repaired.

Right-hander Pedro Strop, who's been on the disabled list since Aug. 11 with a torn meniscus in his left knee, threw a simulated relief appearance Tuesday at Wrigley Field and came out of it feeling good.

The next step is for the Cubs to reinstate Strop from the 15-day disabled list Friday, when the hard-throwing setup man is expected to make a relief appearance in the series opener against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

"He's going to pitch on Friday, and then we have different days planned out for him after that," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "[Hector] Rondon threw the ball well [Monday] night, better than anticipated, and what I saw out there [Tuesday], Stropey's fine. It would just be a matter of being sharp, because physically he's fine."

Strop is 2-2 with a 2.89 ERA in 50 games this season. Rondon, the Cubs' closer prior to the trade that added Chapman, was on the DL from Aug. 19 to Sept. 6 with a right triceps strain.

They'll both be together in the Cubs' bullpen soon, in front of Chapman, with the postseason coming a couple weeks down the road. Assuming Strop returns Friday, there will be 10 games left in the regular season to help Rondon and Strop sharpen their command.

"The plan is five [appearances] before the playoffs, and I think it's pretty good," Strop said. "It's plenty of time for me to pitch and do my thing, or for them to get the confidence and see that I'm good, still, in a situation to get outs. I think five innings is good enough."

Strop said his pitch count in the simulated appearance was "in the 20s," and he faced live hitters during several game scenarios. Strop said the only ball that was hit off him was Albert Almora Jr.'s ground ball to second, and he was also tested on mobility off the mound.

"He moved around well, covered the bases well, fielded his position well," Maddon said. "There was no holding back anything. So, yeah, that could be very important for us."

Worth noting

• Maddon said the Cubs will begin scripting their pitching schedule and playing time for position players next week, when they travel to Pittsburgh for a four-game series against the Pirates. Included in that plan will be one bullpen start against the Pirates. Having already clinched the National League Central allows the coaching staff the luxury of mapping out the plan.

"When you're playing the Cardinals [this weekend], there's still playoff implications involved, and even with us there are in regards to winning home-field advantage," Maddon said. "But I think maybe by next week, or hopefully by next week, it might be the time to script things a little bit more closely, whether it's relief pitchers [or] playing time for players."

• Right-hander Justin Grimm also threw a simulated inning of relief Tuesday. Maddon said there is no injury issue. He just wanted to get Grimm some work between appearances, without having to do it in a live game.

"He had really good stuff," Maddon said. "We just wanted him out there throwing. Just trying to back off him a little bit, too, but he's doing fine."

• Maddon didn't say whether Mike Montgomery will get another start before the end of the regular season, but he'd like to get the left-hander a relief appearance or two before the playoffs start. Montgomery is expected to handle the long-relief role once the postseason begins.

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.