Mike Montgomery wants to start. His biggest issue? He’s currently on a roster being flooded with starting pitching and there seems to be no letting up.
Montgomery has been in the league for only a handful of seasons, but in that time he has proven himself to be worthy of a regular major league roster spot. He was a decent starter when he came into the league in 2015 for the Seattle Mariners. Partway through his second season he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, who were looking to bolster their pitching staff on the way to a playoff run. He became a Cubs household name for his spot starts and timely outs, most notably the final out of the 2016 World Series versus the Cleveland Indians. However, in 2018 he wants a different role: He wants to be a starter again.
In my opinion, he has earned the chance. Mind you, most teams give a lot of guys the chance when spring training rolls around in February, as the Cubs most likely will with Montgomery in 2018. The bigger issue for him, though, is a plethora of capable starting arms on the current squad and the notable lack of proven relief hurlers. Cubs manager Joe Maddon and others above him in the Cubs organization have praised Mike for his team play, constantly putting the needs of the team above his own want and ambition. To be honest, I wish I could see more of this in sports. But now, to management’s surprise, he’s stepping up his wants and trying to look out for “number one.”
It recently came to light through an anonymous source close to Montgomery that although he’s been happy fulfilling the needs of his team, he now wants to chance to start whether that’s in Chicago or on another team. He hasn’t demanded a trade as of yet, nor has Cubs upper management heard anything about this firsthand, but regardless of validity to the claim, Mike deserves an opportunity. I can’t say he’d make the rotation, especially with the few gents on the current roster who are, hands down, better pitchers. On top of current Cubs Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, and Tyler Chatwood, the club is also currently in the running for the services of Yu Darvish.
In the end, however, I believe everyone deserves a chance, second chances, and sometimes even a third. In Seattle he was at best a modest starter, racking up a 4.60 ERA in 16 starts. In 21 starts since, he has accumulated a much more respectable 3.85 ERA. On the opposite end of the spectrum, after a lackluster 2016 NLCS versus the Los Angeles Dodgers (where he did still earn a win), he logged a 1.93 ERA in five relief appearances against the Cleveland Indians during the 2016 World Series. His numbers aren’t the most spectacular, and as the new season draws near, hopefully he’ll find some happiness once again in the Wrigley Field bullpen, especially if Darvish does decide to head Chicago’s direction. Either way, Maddon should give him a chance. Should Montgomery be a reliever in 2018? Probably, but he has still earned his shot.