Montgomery was traded to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday for first base prospect Dan Vogelbach, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. Montgomery was having a fantastic year out of the bullpen for the Mariners, posting a 2.34 ERA and 1.09 WHIP with 54 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. The left-hander features a fastball, curveball and changeup mix. His fastball velocity has increased almost three miles per hour this season compared to 2015. The former top prospect in the Royals system will give the Cubs bullpen much needed depth, especially from the left side. Expect him to slot right into a seventh or eighth inning role with the Cubs.
Montgomery fell to 3-4 with Sunday's loss to the Astros, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks across five innings of work. He struck out seven. The left-hander entered Sunday's start having gone 11 consecutive appearances without allowing multiple earned runs against, but that streak promptly came to an end as Houston plated three in the first three innings. He still threw the ball well, as 65 percent of his pitches went for strikes and he notched a season-high in punchouts, but he simply ran into a hot opponent on Sunday. Montgomery had earned his latest start with a strong close to the first half, but in light of Sunday's loss and with Felix Hernandez (calf) and Taijuan Walker (foot) expected to return soon, he is unlikely to remain in the rotation.
Montgomery will start Sunday against the Astros, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Manager Scott Servais will reward Montgomery for his strong showing in the first-half finale (one run over 6.1 innings) with another start Sunday, but it's hard to imagine Montgomery sticking in the rotation once Felix Hernandez (calf) and Taijuan Walker (foot) are cleared to return. The 27-year-old lefty has been outstanding in a long-relief role this season and that's probably where he belongs long term.
Montgomery allowed just one run with three strikeouts and no walks across 6.1 innings Sunday versus the Royals, improving his record to 3-3. Montgomery was selected to make his first start of the season to help get Seattle to the All-Star break, and he put together a quality start to earn the win, despite four late runs allowed by the bullpen. It is unclear what the next step will be for Montgomery, but the club had considered giving him another start after the All-Star break and could be even more inclined to do so after Sunday's performance.
Montgomery, who is scheduled to make a spot start Sunday, could start another game after the All-Star break, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. The Mariners play five games in five days after the All-Star break before Felix Hernandez is expected to return to the rotation July 20, so they'll need a fifth starter with Taijuan Walker out. Whether Montgomery gets that chance could depend on how well he pitches Sunday against the Royals.