When Mike Montgomery stepped into the Cubs’ rotation following Yu Darvish’s placement on the 10-day disabled list skipper Joe Maddon characterized the move as temporary and suggested that the lefty would be bullpen-bound once everyone was healthy. After four excellent starts by Montgomery, though, GM Jed Hoyer is making no such proclamations, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.
Hoyer suggests that the Cubs will “use common sense,” noting how well Montgomery has pitched and plainly stating that the front office has taken notice. The GM also stressed, however, that his comments don’t necessarily indicate that one of the team’s five members of the Opening Day rotation — Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Tyler Chatwood and Darvish — will be losing his spot, either.
[Related: Chicago Cubs depth chart]
The Cubs have utilized a six-man rotation in the past, and it seems that could be a possibility based on Hoyer’s comments. Darvish is set to throw a simulated game on Tuesday of this week, as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat wrote last night, and Montgomery will step up and make his fifth start in place of Darvish on that same day. It’s not hard to see why Montgomery at least has the Cubs thinking about altering their plans; in 23 2/3 innings over four starts in place of Darvish, he’s pitched to a 1.14 ERA with a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio. While the lack of punchouts isn’t ideal, Montgomery has induced grounders at a 60.9 percent clip and has allowed hard contact at a below-average clip (29 percent) while inducing plenty of weak contact (21.7 percent) as well.
Of course, Montgomery has had opportunities in the rotation in the past and has not locked down a long-term spot in the Cubs’ rotation, so it’s not especially surprising to hear Hoyer imply that the four-start stretch, while impressive, isn’t guaranteeing him anything. Beyond that, the Cubs have invested significant financial resources in Darvish (six years, $126MM) and Chatwood (three years, $38MM). While both have struggled — Darvish with home runs and Chatwood with a staggering 8.2 BB/9 mark — each right-hander figures to be afforded ample opportunity to work things out given those contractual obligations.