Chicago Cubs: Mike Montgomery’s worth showing in Lester’s absence

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Cubs lost Jon Lester, they already were having pitching issues. In steps bullpen guy/starter/bullpen..and now again starter Mike Montgomery. The results have been fantastic in place of Lester.

When the Chicago CubsJon Lester gave up nine runs (7 ER) against the Cincinnati Reds, clearly there was something wrong. Lester was later diagnosed with lat tightness and is only expected to miss a few starts. With the rotation finally starting to come together and pitch better, it was a devastating blow to the Cubs. Or was it?

Mike Montgomery, who had been shifted back to the bullpen–and had been doing well–was brought back to the rotation to fill in for Lester. With Lester not expected to miss more than a few starts, Montgomery was needed to only “hold things together.” I think we can all say he’s done much more than that.

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Filling in for Jonny

Against the Reds on Aug. 23, Montgomery went six innings, allowing just four hits and striking out four. Skipper Joe Maddon said he wanted to keep Montgomery around 85 pitches, and he did just that tossing 89 while finishing six brilliant innings.

On Monday night, he followed that up with 7+ innings of superb baseball, allowing just one run on six hits. Montgomery allowed a solo home run to Jordy Mercer to start the eighth as that finished his night. But Monty got a standing ovation from the crowd that felt very much like a playoff baseball crowd.

With Arrieta pitching like the Arrieta of old and Kyle Hendricks rounding back into form, the Cubs needed this effort from Montgomery. Jose Quintana–who Montgomery lost his spot too–has been hit or miss. John Lackey had been impressive until his last few starts. The Cubs are scoring runs at near the same pace as last year. They’ve done it in bunches, but it’s been the pitching that’s been the missing link from last years team.

Next: Cubs not far off 2015 pace

With 32 games left, the Cubs will need to squeeze out every bit they can of the pitching staff. Montgomery will be a big part of that, as well as Lackey and Quintana. September call-ups are upon us, and the Cubs are still hoping to get back Addison Russell and Willson Contreras back before the regular season ends.

Every stellar outing the Cubs can get from Montgomery bodes well for the team. His time in the rotation was filled with ups and downs, but this is the time the Cubs need him to come up big–and so far he’s done just that.