Chicago Cubs no longer have a choice in Mike Montgomery’s role

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

After yet another sterling effort on the mound, Mike Montgomery boxed the Chicago Cubs into a corner, all but locking up a spot in the rotation.

Scrolling through Twitter, you might not get too excited about a 1-0 Chicago Cubs loss. But you should. Left-hander Mike Montgomery twirled six innings of one-run, two-hit ball in his latest ‘spot’ start in lieu of the injured Yu Darvish.

That makes four starts since the team’s big offseason addition hit the disabled list for the second time. Oh, and Montgomery is yet to allow more than one earned run in any of those outings. In 23 2/3 innings of work, the left-hander has allowed just 13 hits – resulting in a 1.14 earned run average as a starter.

Remember earlier this year when he made it perfectly clear he preferred to start? And we all kind of wrote him off as a critical long man, but hardly anything more? Yeah, me neither.

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Entering  Wednesday’s performance, Montgomery had piled up proof to back up his claim. But now, with news that Yu Darvish looks to be on the mend – things could get hairy in a hurry. Because, with four consecutive gems from Montgomery, the Cubs can hardly tuck him away in the pen again.

If they did so, it could prove disastrous.

Success goes back to last season

The left-hander has allowed one run or fewer in nine of his last 11 starts (going back to last July). I get that he has tremendous value as a reliever who can eat innings. But he’s clearly feeling this whole starting thing. And he’s earned the right to continue.

Despite the Cubs now racking up 18 straight scoreless innings, Montgomery did everything he could to get his team a win against the Brewers, who further extended their lead in the division. Not once did he pack it in or throw in the towel.

In fact, on a dropped third strike, Chris Gimenez fired a ball over the head of Anthony Rizzo at first early in the game. That gave Milwaukee a runner at second with nobody out. He could have panicked. Instead, the lefty worked out of it masterfully, preserving the then-tied game.

Cubs fans love to talk about ‘mental toughness’ (especially since the Darvish signing). This guy has it. He shows it every time he takes the ball filling in. Oh, and you want the ultimate measure? He hasn’t said a word about what he deserves.

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He continues to let his work do the talking. That’s a winner.