The Chicago Cubs are looking to be very, very cautious when it comes to the return of Pedro Strop. While the team's fill-in closer says he's ready to make his comeback from a hamstring injury, the team is being very, very cautious with their approach.

"I think we're just being overly cautious because we don't want this to happen again," Joe Maddon told the media on Thursday morning. The "this" the Cubs manager was talking about was yet another hamstring injury. That's because Strop has had three of those types of injuries since July of last year.

Chicago Cubs need help but want it long term

There is very little doubt that once the team's fans see that Pedro Strop is ready to return, they are likely going to start wondering why the team is pouncing. That's because, in his absence, the bullpen has been ... uneven to the say the least. That was certainly evident in the recently completed series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

On Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs managed to pull off a win thanks to four innings of very good ball out of the pen from converted starter Tyler Chatwood. But on Thursday, the bullpen allows the two runs that would eventually be the losing margin.

There have also been some pretty obvious moments when not having a closer with the stuff of Pedro Strop has hurt the team.

In the series opener against the Phils, Brad Brach blew the save in the ninth inning and Kevin Ryan allowed a run in the 10th inning to lose.

The bullpen blew another save on Friday afternoon when they went to the ninth inning with a 5-4 lead. Steve Cishek ended up allowing a two-run home run and the Cincinnati Reds won their third straight game against the Chicago Cubs thanks to a leaky bullpen.

Strop on his way back

"We're building strength, we're working hard to make it stronger instead of just, Oh, it's OK and pain-free, let's go out there and have the same thing happen again," Pedro Strop recently said when he was asked what the Chicago Cubs are doing to try and avoid him going back on the IL shortly after he returns.

"We're just taking care."

The real question now, is with the bullpen blowing a total of nine games now, how long can the front office take the cautious route? For now, the team still holds a 1.5 game lead in the NL Central. The fact that they aren't really losing ground in the standings seems to be one of the reasons they are not rushing.

While that's not a terrible approach, it's also not one that allows the team to build a lead. The Chicago Cubs could be four or five games up on the Cardinals and Brewers. If Pedro Strop is really as close to returning as the team is saying, then he could be back by the end of the month. That's another week of games. One wonders if waiting will really avoid another injury and whether he'll be back in time to help the team fix its bullpen problems.