There’s a pretty limited scope for this post: how have the Cubs’ primary three lefty bench bats been doing lately?
Animating the post is the looming playoffs, and the attendant need to pare down 30ish very useful players to just 25 for the NLDS roster. It’s perfectly plausible that the Cubs will carry all three of their lefty bench bats, but it’s also possible that, if the Cubs decide to carry eight relievers, one of these three could be left off the roster.
So, then, here’s your check-in …
After a disastrous start to his season in Oakland (following a very surprising late-Spring Training trade from the Cubs), Coghlan has, on the whole, righted the ship a bit with the Cubs. In 98 extremely sporadic plate appearances with the Cubs this year, Coghlan is hitting .244/.357/.378 (99 wRC+). No, that’s not what you’d want to see from a bat-first, platoon-protected corner outfielder, but it’s also probably at least partially the product of how infrequently and inconsistently Coghlan’s playing time has been. The guy who can play once or twice a week, pinch hit from time to time, and still put up great numbers is a rare bird.
For what it’s worth, in the second half against righties only, Coghlan is hitting .283/.346/.435 (108 wRC+). Moreover, since returning from his second injury with the Cubs this year (September 1, 45 PAs), Coghlan is hitting .293/.333/.463 (110 wRC+).
Tommy La Stella
We won’t go over the off-the-field stuff with La Stella’s season, because it’s worn out at this point, and it is very unlikely to impact the playoff roster question. On the year, La Stella has been that rare bird who puts up great numbers while playing once or twice a week and pinch hitting (.282/.373/.427, 117 wRC+).
It’s been more of a slog in 29 plate appearances since returning to the Cubs August 31 (.231/.310/.308, 69 wRC+), but that’s hardly a sample – heck, if you chop off just the first few days back while presumably shaking off the rust, La Stella’s line shoots up to .286/.375/.381 (108 wRC+). The point there is not that he’s been hot lately; instead, the point is that it’s a nothingburger sample.
La Stella very likely is who he is: a high-contact, solid lefty bat with a so-so glove at second and third base. That has a lot of value.
It’s been a rough, up-and-down year overall for Montero, but it’s pretty hard to argue that he hasn’t look a whole lot better lately, both behind the plate and at it. I’m not exactly sure what changed, but things started looking much better around mid-August in all phases of the game. Heck, even going back all the way to the All-Star break, Montero is hitting .229/.340/.361 (94 wRC+). Given his improvement behind the plate, that’ll play just fine.
Throw in the fact that having three catchers on the roster allows for a whole lot of late-game options for Joe Maddon, and I still really like having Montero on the Cubs’ postseason roster.
In the end, all three of Coghlan, La Stella, and Montero are doing some things lately to make you more inclined to want them on the postseason roster. It’s still possible that other considerations are going to outweigh the desire for the three lefty bats – there are no super easy choices here when you have so many good players – but, as I sit here today, I’d try to figure out a way to carry all three.