Attendant to Yu Darvish leaving last night’s start early (it was a calf cramp), Mike Montgomery got in some middle innings, tight-game work of the kind that had you wondering if he was possibly getting stretched out to make an appearance as a nominal starter in one of Saturday’s games.
Although pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is lined up as a possibility, the Cubs have yet to commit to him as one of the starters. In years past, Montgomery would have always been the guy eyed for the start, but the Cubs previously indicated a desire not to bounce him around quite as much this year as they did last year.
Well, sure enough, Joe Maddon confirmed to the Tribune that, if he is stretched out properly, Montgomery is indeed a candidate to take one of those Saturday doubleheader starts: “The plan is to hopefully get Montgomery stretched out to (start). We’re not going to not use Montgomery in a game we need to for that to happen. I’m aware of trying to get him stretched. If he gets stretched, then I can back him out the next couple of days and save him for Saturday.”
Notably, Maddon said that before last night’s game, though last night’s appearance is not incompatible with that plan. That said, the Cubs would probably need Montgomery to throw something akin to a long bullpen session on Thursday to be in position to throw 50 to 60 pitches in a short start on Saturday, and ideally not in a close-and-late, high-stress-type game situation. We’ll see what happens.
Keep in mind, the Cubs get to bring up a 26th man on Saturday regardless, and it’s going to be a pitcher. So it’s possible that what the Cubs will actually do – regardless of who “starts” the game – is pair up Alzolay and Montgomery in a piggyback start. It worked last year well with Montgomery and Eddie Butler, as it gives the opposition a couple very different looks, limits the times through the order to one or *maybe* two if the performance and pitch count permit, and also saves the bullpen from having to go four or five innings.
So how about it? Madbert Alzogomery? Let’s do it!