Mike Montgomery Really Taking to Starting Role, Classy Cubs, Good Grimm, and Other Bullets

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Mike Montgomery Really Taking to Starting Role, Classy Cubs, Good Grimm, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

‘Margaritaville’ always feels like a light-hearted party song, but you ever really listen to the words? It seems to be about a sad alcoholic who remembers very little, has lost his relationship, and stumbles around town stepping on metal with bare feet.

  • Remember Spring Training? Well, I mean, yeah you do. I should be more specific. Remember the decision about the Cubs’ fifth starter? How both Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery looked adequate, and, thus, given their backgrounds and prior usage, it made more sense to have Anderson in the rotation and Montgomery in the bullpen? It was never a reflection of the Cubs’ belief in Montgomery as a future starter – indeed, they’ve said openly that they hope he can emerge as a controlled starting pitcher for the next several years, and the expectation was always that he’d still get plenty of starts this year. Still, when Anderson went down with a back injury/extremely poor performance, it was Eddie Butler who came up to take the rotation spot, not Montgomery sliding out of the bullpen. Again, that seemed to be more about the Cubs’ need to have Montgomery in the pen to work long outings than being a reflection of the Cubs’ interest in seeing Montgomery start. Ultimately, it took a Kyle Hendricks injury to get Montgomery into the rotation.
  • Montgomery has now made three starts this year, each lasting an inning longer than the previous, and each showing a better game score. You could actually argue that his “starting” goes back a few games before that, when he was piggybacking with Eddie Butler. In those six outings combined, Montgomery has posted a stellar 1.88 ERA, and a solid 3.58 FIP and 3.77 xFIP. His strikeout rate is still lower than you’d hope to see (19.7%), but his walk rate is not the nightmarish terror it was when he was pitching out of the bullpen (7.5%). Most importantly, his groundball rate has been an INSANE 67.6%. At that level, Montgomery can do almost anything with his K/BB and he could still have a lot of success.
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

  • Speaking of the back-end starters, Brett Anderson is still rehabbing in Arizona, now up to about 60 pitches, per TCR. Anderson is on the 60-day DL (back), and is eligible to return in the first half of July if the Cubs figure out how best to accommodate him. I know he looked pretty awful earlier this year, but it’s worth saying again that, for his career, when healthy, he’s always been good. He just hasn’t often been healthy.
  • It doesn’t sound like Jason Heyward (big cut/scrape on his hand) is a definite for today’s game (CSN). At some point, the Cubs may have to make a roster move to stop playing short-handed.
  • Do you remember how bad Justin Grimm’s numbers were to start the season before he was sent down to Iowa? Needless to say, they were sufficiently horrifying that if you look at his season numbers right now, they still look bad. HOWEVA, since returning from Iowa, he’s thrown 10.0 innings with a 0.90 ERA, a 2.02 FIP, a 2.88 xFIP, a 42.9% strikeout rate, and a 5.7% walk rate. Just awesome. We’ve seen this kind of streakiness from Grimm before, so hopefully this streak of dominance lasts.
  • Random curiosity:

  • Classy and deserved:

  • Burn:

Beautiful new billboard ad outside Wrigley Field.

Posted by Bleacher Nation on Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.