Chicago Cubs: How long will Mike Montgomery be a key piece of this staff?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Mike Montgomery
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 14: Mike Montgomery /

. SP/RP. Chicago Cubs. MIKE MONTGOMERY. B -

As both a reliever or a starter, Mike Montgomery remains a valuable member of the Chicago Cubs pitching staff – and proved that to be the case this season.

On July 20, 2016, the Chicago Cubs acquired Mike Montgomery, along with Jordan Pries, from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn.

At the time, Vogelbach was a second-round draft pick and one of the Cubs’ top 20 prospects and Blackburn was a 2012 first-rounder.  The goal was to add a lefty arm to the 2016 club and further groom and establish Montgomery as a big leaguer.

By season’s end, he became a fan favorite after recording the final out of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians, earning the save in Game 7.  Something which, I will never forget and appreciate him every day for.

Since his acquisition, Montgomery has become, in a way, the Ben Zobrist, for lack of a better term, of the Cubs pitching staff.  Like Zobrist, when underperformance and injuries plague the team, Montgomery is the go-to guy to plug in wherever needed.

As a utility spot starter, he’s an asset and a luxury that any team would love to have.

Montgomery is also cost-efficient.  He still has three arbitration years left and is expected to earn around $3M in 2019, a considerable steal when you compare it to other dreadful contracts like Tyler Chatwood, who is set to make $12.5 next season for walking more guys than anyone in baseball.

But unlike the ever-disappointing Chatwood, Montgomery was effective in both roles over the course of the 2018 season. He pitched in a total 38 games (19 starts), going 5-6 with a 3.99 ERA over 124 innings pitched.  In those 19 starts, he possessed a 3.69 ERA in 97 2/3 innings.

How much longer with Montgomery remain a luxury for the Cubs?

While his numbers aren’t setting the world on fire by any means, sometimes I find myself more comfortable with him out there on the mound as opposed to say, Jose Quintana, who is probably as hit-or-miss as you can get out of a starter.  After all, he’s shown that he could be a guy capable of 10 to 15 wins if given the opportunity.

He’s valuable in both roles and the luxury of having a long relief/sixth starter is something the Cubs should hold onto as long as possible.

Since 2017, the organization has tip-toed around his vocalization of wanting to become a full-time starter and the team has used him wherever they please.  However, it’s certainly inevitable that Montgomery will become more disgruntled with the situation and the Cubs won’t be able to brush it under the rug any longer.

With the 2019 Cubs rotation seemingly all but set, it looks like Montgomery will, once again, be delegated to the sixth starter role.

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Due to this, barring any major injuries to the staff, Montgomery will be an interesting player to watch next season as he could be a key bargaining chip for future trades that could bring over other players that will fill the void of roster needs.

We’ll have to wait and see how the situation transpires but, nevertheless, Montgomery provided another solid season in and out of the ‘pen in 2018.