All in all it was a pretty routine win. It’s the kind of thing the Cubs couldn’t do yesterday when they should have. They got a couple runs early enough, but then broke it open late when Sean Rodriguez was too distracted by the shiny Gatorade coolers in the dugout and threw a ball about six feet wide of first. But hey, the Cubs were due some luck.
But the real story of the night was Mike Montgomery, and the mind starts to race about what could be.
Here’s a thing you wouldn’t know. If Montgomery has enough innings to qualify among starters, his line-drive rate against would be third lowest behind Scherzer and Ariel Miranda of the Mariners. His ground-ball rate would be third-highest behind Marcus Stroman and Clayton Richard. His hard-contact rate against would be in the top-25. You wouldn’t realize.
When you restrict him to just a starter, his numbers are actually even better. A 13.3% line-drive rate, and a 62.2% ground-ball rate. Ok, it’s only 53 innings as a starter but you get it. Basically, if Montgomery could walk only a league-average number of hitters, he’d be utterly dominating. And it’s not like a 3.1 BB/9 rate is obscene. It just could be a little better. And you see that 69% left-on-base rate as a starter, and you think he’s been a touch unlucky. You don’t want to wonder where the Cubs might have been if Montgomery couldn’t have filled in the all the roles he has. Let’s not now, either.
So as we look forward, you know Maddon is pretty excited how to use Montgomery in the playoffs. He’s not going to get any starts, but there will only be one first call on the days that Henricks and Arrieta (and possibly Lackey if Quintana can’t put it together). Monty is just as touch on righties as he is on lefties, but you can see how excited a manager would be to trot him out once through a lineup that’s been set up to combat a right-handed pitcher. Though the Nationals and Dodgers aren’t helpless anymore against lefties, you’d still take your chances. You can see where if they only get four effective innings from a Hendricks start in the playoffs, Monty could come through and blow through lineup over two to three and take you right to Edwards-Davis if that’s all you’re comfortable with.
Anyway, the mind reels. Something to look forward to in a season where we’ve needed to search for them.