The 2018 season has been a strange one so far for the Chicago Cubs. While they currently sit at 44-35 and remain two games behind the Brewers, it seems that they have not played to their potential all season long.
The year has been filled with ups and downs, inconsistent play from both pitchers and hitters, and key injuries. One of those injuries, Yu Darvish, suffered a setback in his bullpen session this week.
That is going to lead to another MRI for the prized free agent signing. While this is awful news (and the Cubs need Darvish), it could be a blessing in disguise.
In finding a temporary replacement for Yu Darvish the Cubs may have discovered their fifth starter unintentionally and found a solution for their short and long-term starting rotation plans.
Enter Mike Montgomery.
Since Montgomery has entered the rotation he has been fantastic. In his six starts and 35.2 innings of work, he has only surrendered eight earned runs to the tune of a 2.02 ERA.
This is including four earned runs in his last start against the Reds. Two of those were related to the implosion of Pedro Strop, where he cruised through six innings and experienced some trouble in the 7th. In fact, he’s only given up more than one earned run once in those six aforementioned starts.
Maybe that’s why Montgomery said he wanted to be a starter at the beginning of the year.
Regardless, this gives the Cubs a crutch to lean on as Yu Darvish rehabs his triceps injury. Montgomery made his case that he should be the fifth starter going forward.
While it’s nice to have an additional lefty out of the pen, it seems that he performs much better as a starter anyways. In 10 fewer innings as a reliever this year, he has given up seven more earned runs and has a hefty 5.33 ERA.
The emergence of the greatest of all-time, Randy Rosario, has made the loss of Montgomery from the bullpen much easier to swallow.
If Montgomery can continue to pitch well then the Cubs have a decision to make when Yu Darvish returns. Roll with the hot hand with Montgomery… or send him back to the bullpen and continue with Tyler Chatwood, who has almost matched last year’s walk total in almost 80 fewer innings (77 in 147.2 IP vs. 63 in 68.1 IP).
It will be interesting to see what the Cubs do. Montgomery is arbitration eligible after this year.
His value may rise significantly if he finishes the year as a starter and continues to outpitch the rest of the starting rotation. But he should still be affordable.
At worst, he gives them an option besides Yu Darvish or Tyler Chatwood at the moment.