By Bruce Levine--
CHICAGO (CBS) -- The door is wide open for a new setup man on the North Side of Chicago.
Right-hander reliever Pedro Strop has been lost for four to six weeks with a meniscus tear in the left knee. After surgery, an optimistic view would have power-throwing Strop returning for an October playoff run.
The setup role will be handled by right-hander Hector Rondon and numerous candidates, but for now, Rondon hasn't pitched in seven days due to triceps soreness in the right arm. The Cubs are optimistic he will be back this weekend sometime.
Until then, applications are being accepted by manager Joe Maddon. In Strop's place, the Cubs recalled right-hander Justin Grimm from Triple-A Iowa.
Strop has a 2.89 ERA and 0.89 WHIP this season to go with 21 holds.
"Grimmer is back, so he has done this before," Maddon said. "This will give more opportunity to different guys, particularly Joe Smith, who will be used more often. He has had success in that role for a long time."
Smith was obtained from the Angels before the non-waiver trading deadline. He has had a few marginal outings since being acquired (5.40 ERA in two outings). Smith has experience, having had five consecutive years of 70 or more appearances.
"I feel I thrive on being used," Smith said. "I am here to be used as they see fit."
The progress of rookie Carl Edwards makes for a possible transition for him into the seventh- or eighth-inning role soon -- in due time.
"Not yet," Maddon said about the possibility of Edwards moving into the Strop role. "I don't want to go there yet. He was spectacular last night. I think we have used Carl with some time in between because of the organizations approach for him. I see giving Grimm and Smith more opportunities in that role."
The success of the starting pitching in the second half has limited the innings crush on the bullpen so far. That will probably be tested more in the last 50 games of the season, as Maddon will want to control some of the starters' innings and pitch counts. This manipulation would be implemented so that the starters are fresh for October.
The Cubs bullpen sports a 3.56 ERA this season.
"We still have a really strong bullpen," Maddon said. "We are trying to build though the ninth inning with the lead. We can still do that. We are going to miss Strop. Stroppie is the kind of guy you really feel good going against the other team's top hitters all the time. Just get well, get back and we will play it from there."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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