As I noted in my Wild Card preview, the Cubs bullpen is taxed, thanks in part to both Brandon Morrow and Pedro Strop being injured. I don’t know if Strop is still injured or not, but he’ll be in uniform tonight. The Cubs just activated him for the Wild Card game.
Strop, who took over as the closer from the injured Morrow midseason, went down with a hamstring injury while running the bases against the Nationals in a mid-September game, sending him to the disabled list. He’s been saying all along that he thinks he can make it back for the playoffs, but until today the Cubs said nothing definitive on the matter. Now they have.
Strop is 6-1 with a 2.26 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 57/21 in 59.2 innings on the year. Getting him back for tonight’s one-and-done game is a big deal.
With a ninth-inning solo home run off of Royals pitcher Jacob Barnes on Sunday, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso set a new National League rookie record for home runs in a single season. He now has 40 with 36 games left in the regular season.
Cody Bellinger, currently the home run leader with 42, hit 39 home runs in his rookie season in 2017, holding the record until today. The major league record is 52, set by the Yankees’ Aaron Judge also in 2017. Judge had broken Mark McGwire’s record of 49 hit in 1987.
Alonso went 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI double, and three runs scored along with the homer. He’s now batting .271 with a .979 OPS with 40 homers and 95 RBI on the season.
With their 11-5 win over the Royals, the Mets improved to 64-60. They have the same exact record as the Phillies and Brewers, sitting 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card.