Marcus Stroman is embracing his bullpen role as Cubs fight for playoff berth

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CHICAGO (670 The Score) – As the Cubs fight for a playoff berth, right-hander Marcus Stroman continues to loom as a key figure for them.

Stroman is currently working out of the Cubs’ bullpen after returning last Friday from a rib injury, and he has told manager David Ross that he’s happy to fill any role the team needs. That meant working back-to-back days as the Cubs were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks last weekend. Stroman hasn’t pitched since then.

“I told Rossy that I am available back-to-back days," Stroman said Wednesday. “I take really good care of my body. So whatever role they see fit, late innings or swing type of games, whatever they want, I feel good. My arm feels good. Essentially, it's just about getting guys out. I feel like I can do that in any inning against anyone. Just being in a position to help, I can do anything they want.”

Prior to last weekend, Stroman hadn’t pitched out of the bullpen since 2014, his first MLB season. Even so, he’s found comfort in working as a reliever lately.

“I love the confidence of Rossy to put me out there and trust me,” Stroman said. "I feel the team really trusts me. I know my body can do it. I think they know I am not lying and that my body is in position to really do so. I am not scared of anything. I have been in this league a long time. I can pitch six or seven innings any time. Now, it’s about pitching and getting less outs. So in that role, I can be more aggressive. Your intensity is just a little higher when you came into a game like that. I know my stuff. I know it plays against anyone. It's exciting to me to pitch in multiple roles. To be used as a closer or opener is exciting in big-time roles. That’s what we need right now. So I am happy to contribute anyway I can.”

Stroman doesn’t feel he’s at 100% health, but he can pitch without trepidation, which is what matters most. He also indicated he’s ready to make a start for the Cubs if called upon down the stretch. Stroman has a 3.76 ERA in 25 appearances in 2023.

“I have a fracture between my ninth and 10th ribs of the cartilage,” he said about his last injury. "It just is going to take a little time to heal. But it feels way, way better than it did last week and the week before that. I am not worried about it. It's just soreness. I can deal with it between outings. This is pretty intense, high-pressure baseball right now. I just think everyone is just focused on winning. I was built up for my next start. I could have gone out there and done that for four or five innings. At this point, I am good to go. Load-wise, I can go out and make a start.”

Ross has praised Stroman for his strong communication about how he’s feeling and what he’s comfortable with in his new role. And as the Cubs sit in the third and final wild-card spot in the National League entering play Thursday, they know every pitch in every game matters.

“I know I am an elite starter in this league, but for now, I am a weapon out of the bullpen,” Stroman said.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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