Perhaps there’s something going on in the left-handed batter’s box at Wrigley Field. Because both Chris Coghlan and Miguel Montero have been feeling their oats lately. And both of them have gone from serious question marks as to whether they’d even make the playoff roster to surefire locks (though I’m still going to make strange noises and possibly injure myself if Coghlan starts a playoff game).
First Coghlan. He’s been utterly unconscious the past month, with a .409 wOBA and slugging over .500. It’s not something we could have ever foreseen when he was brought back from Oakland where he was making small children cry and dogs sick. It’s certainly making for a pretty jammed outfield, with the playoff roster containing possibly seven players who can reasonably play out there in the playoffs (Coghlan, Bryant, Soler, Fowler, Zobrist, Heyward, and either Almora/Szczur).
The biggest difference for Coghlan since August 1st is he’s not getting buried by fastballs anymore. Before the season’s last two months, he was hitting .157 on fastballs. Since he’s hitting .316, and with a very reasonable BABIP of .313 so it’s not really luck. He’s just been able to catch up. His whiffs-per-swing percentage before August 1st on fastballs was 20%. It’s 8% since. Clearly, John Mallee has been able to find some adjustment for Cogs to quicken up his swing or shorten it or something, because he’s getting to the pitches that were waving as they went by in the season’s first four months.
Coghlan has also been able to tap and fist some breaking pitches for hits, as he’s hitting .500 on change-ups and .400 on sliders during this span. But with the considerably high BABIP on those and the .000 ISO, that might have a little to do with luck.
Miggy’s resurgence waited until September. These past three weeks Miggy has a wRC+ of 124, while slugging .500 and an OPS of .841. It appears that Montero’s willingness to use the opposite way is a key to his resurgence. In the past month he’s hit two homers to left, and managed seven other hits going the other way as well. Before that Montero only managed 10 hits to the opposite way, and no homers.
Montero also seems to be something of an Arrieta-whisperer, though that’s only based on one start last week against the Cardinals. But that’s as good as Jake has looked in a while. That alone might be enough to get him on the playoff roster.
All of it makes the Tommy La Stella drama seem even more silly. If we assume the Cubs are going to have an 11-man pitching staff with the four starters, and good luck trying to put together the seven relievers you are sure are going to be there, the Cubs probably don’t need three lefty bats on the bench. Which they will have some nights during the playoffs.
We know Ross, Contreras, Rizzo, Zobrist, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Fowler, Heyward are locks. That leaves five spots. Unless Soler is hurt, you’d have to believe after last year’s heroics he’s going too. That’s four. Coghlan, La Stella, Montero and one of the younger outfielders. I guess it all fits.
I’ll be quiet now.