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Mike Montgomery’s Shot to Lock Down a Rotation Job and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Historically, The Wife and I haven’t done much – if anything – for Valentine’s Day. I haven’t done anything significant this year, like usual, but I am also slightly terrified (as I am every year) that I was supposed to do something significant. Yes, I have become that husband.

(Love you, dear!)

  • It’s been clear since he worked into the rotation last year as the sixth starter that the Chicago Cubs are hoping lefty Mike Montgomery emerges in 2017 as a long-term starter for a team that is going to need them in 2018 and beyond. Then, when the Cubs let Jason Hammel go, they explicitly stated that part of the reason was to give other starting pitchers an opportunity to emerge in 2017, with an eye toward helping in the future. Montgomery wasn’t named by name, but we knew that he was in that group, especially given his potential upside. Fast-forward to last month, when the Cubs signed lefty starter Brett Anderson, and some started to ask whether that meant Montgomery was headed back to the bullpen. Given Anderson’s injury history, though, and the ever-present need for more than five starting pitchers, the better response to the Anderson signing was that it had virtually no impact on Montgomery’s projected role with the Cubs in 2017. If he can start successfully, he’s going to start. It might not be every turn through the rotation, but he’s going to get a significant number of starts no matter what happens with Anderson (or Eddie Butler or Alec Mills or the rest of the rotation).

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  • I offer that all as a precursor to Montgomery’s thoughts upon arriving at Spring Training, which you can read here at Cubs.com, and here at the Chicago Tribune. He is not bothered by competition, and prepared this offseason like a starting pitcher. But he’s ready to start and relieve, knowing that needs change throughout the year. From where I sit, I hope Montgomery is given substantial stretches of the season to simply stay in the rotation on a semi-regular schedule so that the Cubs can really, truly see what they might have in him for the future. If Anderson and the front four starters are all healthy, then the Cubs can operate with the kind of modified six-man rotation they employed late last year, which would preserve all of the arms in the rotation for the stretch run (and, a great deal of research suggests, could also improve each pitcher’s individual effectiveness).
  • Patrick Mooney writes about the things under the microscope this spring, and, coming off a World Series win, obviously, there’s not a whole lot of scandalous stuff. That said, there are things that will be pored over, including Jake Arrieta’s contract year, and what happens in center field.
  • Mark Gonzales writes about whether it’s time for a famous, long-retired former Cub to come back into the fold. No, not Sammy Sosa – it’s Mark Grace. The first baseman, who now lives in Arizona, has mostly been involved with the Diamondbacks in various roles since his retirement, but is now something of a free agent, after departing as the team’s assistant hitting coach. He could still do some TV work for the Diamondbacks, but joining the Cubs in some kind of capacity – formal or informal – still seems possible. So much more here from Gonzales.
  • A reminder: today is the last day to submit your entry for the Cubs’ ring bearer contest.

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  • This is really cool:

  • New cap varieties for the spring, if you didn’t like the earlier ones that came out:


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  • Hug someone:


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Yesterday was a busy one, so if you missed anything else:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.