The Cubs starting rotation is almost locked down for the 2017 season. The fifth spot is open for competition, but Mike Montgomery is making his case.
The Chicago Cubs are one of a couple of teams with a complete roster. They have the offense to score a lot of runs, recently revamped bullpen will lock down saves and the rotation can keep opposing batters off base. The only negative is that they don’t have a solid one through five rotation. At least not yet. Mike Montgomery can take the fifth spot and be a deep fantasy sleeper.
Montgomery made himself known for fantasy owners and Cubs fans in the second half and postseason, mostly out of the bullpen. He started the 2016 season with the Seattle Mariners and ended the season recording the final out of the World Series.
After making 16 starts in his first season in 2015, the Mariners transitioned him to the bullpen. Looking at his splits for the full season, that looked like a smart decision. In seven combined starts, he had a 3.28 ERA, 1.178 WHIP and 34-14 K-BB ratio. In 42 total bullpen appearances, Montgomery posted a 2.10 ERA, 1.166 WHIP and 58-24 K-BB ratio.
The Cubs are looking to take Montgomery out of the bullpen and into the rotation this Spring. In four games (three starts), 7.0 innings, he has a 3.86 ERA, 2.00 WHIP and an 8-3 K-BB ratio. While those numbers don’t look the greatest, especially the WHIP, that’s nothing compared to his competition.
While those numbers don’t look the greatest, especially the WHIP, that’s nothing compared to his competition.
Brett Anderson has a 6.75 ERA, 2.00 WHIP and 6-1 K-BB ratio. Anderson has been injured frequently throughout his career. From 2009 to 2016, eight seasons, he made over 30 starts just twice. Unless Montgomery completely falls apart, Anderson does not fit into the rotation plans.
In his outing on March 9, Montgomery allowed three hits, one run in two innings against the Mariners. That was his first home run allowed at the time. He has allowed two home runs this spring.
As he was making his way through the Kansas City, Montgomery was posting high strikeout rates and decent walk rates. The strikeouts dropped as he pitched more in the majors. He did have close to a strikeout per inning in 38.1innings with the Cubs. If he can continue the upswing, then an 180-strikeout season is possible.
Montgomery threw his curveball 28.9 percent of the time with Chicago, the most at any point in his career. He also has a cut fastball and changeup, but both were used under 13 percent each. He has a solid outside strikeout percentage and a first strike swing rate. It does help that he’ll pitch against pitchers at least twice per game.
Montgomery is all but locked in the Cubs No. 5 spot. I don’t think he’ll reach 200 strikeouts, but 150 strikeouts with a 2.85 ERA and 1.27 WHIP is not that bad. Some No. 2 or 3 starters can reach those numbers. He will go undrafted in standard leagues and shouldn’t be. I’m targeting him as a bench option with starting lineup potential.