While the Cubs haven’t committed to how they’ll address filling Brett Anderson’s spot in the starting rotation, Mike Montgomery feels ready to start if he gets the call.
Montgomery threw 52 pitches over 3 2/3 innings May 1 against the Philadelphia Phillies and 45 pitches over three innings against the Phillies May 4, giving him a solid runway to stretch out if he has to start against the Colorado Rockies or St. Louis Cardinals this week.
“I feel good to go for as long as I’m keeping getting outs and feeling good,” Montgomery, who has a 1.29 ERA in 11 games, said. “I don’t really want to put a limit on something like that.”
The Cubs placed Anderson on the 10-day disabled list Sunday and recalled Justin Grimm from Triple-A Iowa, and could consider Montgomery or right-hander Eddie Butler to take Anderson's turns in the rotation. With off days on May 11 and May 15, though, the Cubs won't necessarily need a fifth starter soon.
Montgomery was forced into Sunday night's extra-innings game against the New York Yankees, though if the Cubs need a starter Friday in St. Louis, him pitching in relief Sunday may not affect his status for that. Montgomery threw 36 pitches in two shutout innings.
While Montgomery isn't thinking about a pitch or innings target if he does start, manager Joe Maddon figured the 27-year-old left-hander could “easily” throw 75-80 pitches given his recent workload. Montgomery threw that first extended outing this month in garbage time against the Phillies (the Cubs lost that game, 10-2), then pitched the 10th through the 12th innings in the Cubs’ 5-4 13-inning win three days later.
That blowout loss to the Phillies fit Maddon’s explanation of how to get a reliever stretched out to start during the season: “Bad games,” he laughed. But Montgomery has done this before, briefly moving from the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen to starting rotation shortly before being traded to the Cubs last July and then for a few starts in August and September.
Montgomery brought an urgent mentality — like the one he showed with two outs in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series — to those seven starts last year, which he said helped that transition, too.
If anything, perhaps that approach could help the Cubs’ woeful first inning ERA, which sits at 11.03 after Jon Lester allowed a run in the opening frame of Sunday night’s game against the New York Yankees.
“I was able to take that into a starting role instead of saying, okay, it’ll take a few innings to get a feel or whatnot,” Montgomery said. “It’s, hey, I’m coming out guns blazing right away and I’m going to give them everything I got right away.”