Acquired from Seattle in July, Mike Montgomery made five starts and 12 relief appearances during the second half of the season, flashing the potential to be an intriguing sleeper if he's tasked with starting in 2017. Cubs fans will remember Montgomery regardless of how he's utilized going forward, as he threw the final pitch in Game 7 of the World Series. Other than a spike in home runs allowed, Montgomery's peripherals between the rotation and bullpen were nearly identical last season, and his greatest obstacle in becoming a good starter will be control, as he walked batters at a 12.2 percent clip following the move to Chicago. That surge was accompanied by a spike in his swinging-strike rate, and his overall mark in 2016 (11.6 percent) points to a pitcher with good weapons and a strong understanding of how to use them. Barring an unexpected addition to the rotation, Montgomery is the frontrunner to begin 2017 as the Cubs' No. 5 starter.
Montgomery went two innings in Monday's loss to the Brewers, allowing three hits and an earned run. He struck out one and did not issue a walk. This was the third time in five appearances this season that Montgomery pitched at least two innings, so the Cubs seem comfortable with him in a multi-inning role. This enhances Montgomery's fantasy appeal a bit, as he could rack up more wins and strikeouts. However, he'd be even more valuable if he found his way into the rotation, which is a possibility if injuries strike any of the team's other starters.
Montgomery pitched two scoreless innings in Wednesday's loss to the Dodgers, allowing one hit and two walks. He struck out one. Montgomery had allowed a run in each of his previous two outings this season, so it was nice to see him keep the Dodgers off the board. The lefty also went two or more innings for the second time this year, and his experience as a starter should allow him to pitch multiple innings of relief for the Cubs on a regular basis.
Montgomery was saddled with the loss on Opening Day, allowing a walk-off single to the Cardinals' Randal Grichuk in the bottom of the ninth inning. Montgomery retired Matt Carpenter to begin the frame, but a one-out double by pinch-hitter Jose Martinez started the rally. The Cubs seem to view Montgomery as a good high-leverage option, so don't get too worried about this hiccup.
Montgomery said he's comfortable with being put in the bullpen, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. It was announced on Thursday that Brett Anderson would be the team's No. 5 starter, while Montgomery will start the year working in the bullpen, where he excelled for the Cubs in 2016. "I feel good about it," Montgomery said. "I'm here to get outs and it doesn't matter when or where it is." Anderson does have a lengthy injury history, so Montgomery could make some starts eventually.
Montgomery will begin the year in the bullpen with the announcement of Brett Anderson as the team's No. 5 starter, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. This isn't much of a surprise, as Anderson has never pitched in relief before, while Montgomery excelled in a relief role last season, including getting the save in Game 7 of the World Series. Montgomery will begin the year in the bullpen, but Anderson's injury history would suggest that Montgomery will get some starts down the road.
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