De facto closer Pedro Strop’s hopes of returning from an injured left hamstring in time to make at least one appearance before the playoffs have dimmed since last week.
But Strop said Monday he’s throwing at ‘‘like, 90 percent’’ during the flat-ground stage of his program. He hasn’t thrown from a mound since suffering the injury Sept. 13 and said he doesn’t have a timetable for when that might happen. He has tested the hamstring only with light jogging.
‘‘It’s been feeling good,’’ said Strop, who still holds out hope for making an appearance before the regular season ends Sunday. ‘‘I think I can. We’ll see. . . . I wish I could be in there right now.’’
Strop was 11-for-13 in save chances after closer Brandon Morrow went on the disabled list in July with what turned out to be a season-ending elbow injury.
Manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t rule out Strop returning to a game this week, but he emphasized not rushing a pitcher so important to the Cubs’ playoff plans.
‘‘I don’t want to discount anything,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘If he had not been able to throw through all this, then it’d be a different story entirely. But he’s been able to keep his arm moving, so as his leg feels better, his arm’s ready to go.’’
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks reached a career-high 191 innings with his 7 2/3 innings Sunday against the White Sox. And when he makes his final scheduled start of the regular season Friday against the Cardinals, it will give him a career-high 33 starts.
Hendricks, who started Game 1 of the playoffs last season, said he feels as strong this late in the season as he ever has, and a consistent 88 mph fastball in recent starts says the same thing.
‘‘The big difference for me this year with him is the maintenance of his velocity,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘And, No. 2, the changeup kept getting better.’’
Hendricks is 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his last seven starts. That gives the Cubs an impressive one-two playoff punch — left-hander Jon Lester and Hendricks — compared to the rest of the projected National League field.
‘‘He has more innings, but he’s in great shape,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Physically, he’s throwing the ball as well as I’ve ever seen him throw the baseball.’’
Quick return for Bryant
The day after Maddon suggested Kris Bryant would get a second consecutive day on the bench to rest the left shoulder that has cost him 7½ weeks this season, Bryant was back in the lineup at third base.
‘‘He’s feeling good,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I just want to really pay attention to that. You just can’t take it for granted that he’s 100 percent well after what he had gone through. But he’s feeling good.
‘‘Let’s see how it all plays out, but he’s ready to roll.’’
After allowing a two-run home run in the first inning Monday, left-hander Cole Hamels teed off against Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon for his own homer leading off the third. It was only the second homer of his career and first since 2012.
Hamels, by the way, didn’t allow a homer in his first seven starts with the Cubs. But Francisco Cervelli’s first-inning shot was the sixth homer against him in four starts since.