The Cubs had a rare Wednesday off and I wanted to be productive before digging into the various shows I’m consuming right now, so here we are. Wow, only took me 20 minutes to get to the second sentence of this, so I’m clearly going to need to be succinct here. Anyway, there were a few little items that I found interesting enough to cover in short form before bed.
Up first, David Bote was not in the lineup for the Iowa Cubs as they opened play in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. That could be nothing, but it could also be something. As Bryan Smith of Bleacher Nation tweeted, Bote can be called up earlier than scheduled if he’s coming up to replace an injured player. That’s actually how he came up last time, only to be optioned back to Iowa when Ben Zobrist returned.
It’s interesting to me that David Bote is not playing tonight in Iowa’s playoff game. He cannot be called up for another week, *unless* someone is put on IL. Bote was on Iowa’s playoff roster, but could a decision have been made on this off day that would otherwise bring him up?
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) September 5, 2019
The most obvious candidate for an IL stint would be Kris Bryant, whose right knee has been barking since the All-Star break. It snarled at him prior to Tuesday’s game and was only expected to keep him out of the lineup temporarily, though the Cubs might want to get a replacement back to Chicago right away and shelve KB for a little while to make sure he’s good for the final weeks of the season.
Or maybe it’s Yu Darvish, who was scratched from his most recent start with forearm tightness that’s reportedly been bothering him for the last month or more. The Cubs have said that’s more a matter of monitoring his workload, so hitting the IL would be pretty ominous.
And again, this could just be one of those weird deals that just makes you cock your head and wonder why it worked out that way. That’s kind of how it was for this next guy, whose Cubs tenure disappeared like a fart in the wind earlier this season.
Given the role he played in the 2016 World Series title, it sure seems like Mike Montgomery has disappeared quickly from Cubs fans’ collective consciousness. Aside from a few weirdos relitigating the trade that brought Monty to Chicago in exchange for Dan Vogelbach, which came about when the Mariners passed through, the lefty swingman really hasn’t merited a second thought.
Ancillary legend status aside, Montgomery pitched himself right out of town and ensured that even the most nostalgic fans just hoped he’d get a shot to spread his wings in a new destination. For as much as the Cubs have gotten big wins with guys like Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, with Rowan Wick and Brad Wieck carrying some potential, the whole change-of-scenery thing works both ways.
Montgomery wanted to start full-time, something that wasn’t going to happen for him in a Cubs uniform. And though injuries contributed to his disappointing 2019 campaign, it was evident that he just couldn’t get comfortable. He spoke publicly about being willing to do whatever the team needed, but, while that wasn’t quite a fib, Montgomery always fancied himself an ace-level starter.
That wasn’t evident in a 5.67 ERA or paltry 1.38 K/BB ratio across his first 27 innings, numbers that no doubt had both Monty and the Cubs front office itching for a change. So he was shipped off to Kansas City for Martín Maldonado, who was eventually flipped to Houston after experiencing discomfort with his own reduced role.
So how’s Monty doing in the time since?
Since being traded to the Royals & becoming a starting pitcher full time, Mike Montgomery's ERA has dropped by 2 runs, WHIP and batting average allowed are down, and his strikeout rate is way up.
Not an indictment on the Cubs, but he is clearly in a more comfortable role now.
— Jared Wyllys (@jwyllys) September 4, 2019
He’s still having a little trouble getting lefties out, but he’s posted a 3.69 ERA and a 3.42 K/BB through nine starts with the Royals. Good for him. Maybe it’s the lower pressure or just the ability to take the bump on a normal schedule all the time, something Montgomery really yearned for after the yo-yo lifestyle he lived in Chicago.
When it comes to players who’ve gotten a bump following a move to Chicago, however, Nicholas Castellanos is setting the bar pretty high. Big Nick Energy has fueled the Cubs since his arrival at the trade deadline, and his addition has even been obvious to guys who’ve only been around for a few days.
Ben Zobrist gushed to reporters about the impact Castellanos has had, though he had to raise his voice when the right fielder came into the room with his stereo bumping. Rather than letting it devolve into Kerry Wood vs. Sammy Sosa Part II, Castellanos turned down the volume so the interview could continue.
Then he turned up the volume on his bat to drive Zobrist home twice in Tuesday’s win. Pretty fun when things are clicking like that. Which reminds me, I need to get clicking on the remote so I can get into Wu-Tang: An American Saga on Hulu. Got a subscription just for the show. I also need to finish the latest episode of Snowfall and get started on the new season of Mayans M.C.
Oh, then there’s the second season of Mindhunter to finish and a few episodes of the Crime Junkie podcast to binge. If you’re ever wondering how someone with a regular gig maintains a moderately popular Cubs blog, well, it’s because I’m a little compulsive with it. Can’t put out content if you’re sleeping.