Mike Montgomery continues to make rotation case during Cubs’ twinbill split
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Mike Montgomery or Tyler Chatwood?
The Cubs won’t go near that question, and they might have plenty of time — and options — to avoid it altogether.
But when Chatwood and Montgomery each started a game in Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers, one of the Cubs Twitter’s favorite questions played out front and center during a very long day of baseball at Wrigley Field.
Neither pitcher got the decision during a twinbill the teams split. Albert Almora Jr. drove home Kris Bryant from third with a walk-off single to right in the 10th inning for a 2-1 victory in the second game. The Cubs blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss in the opener.
And neither pitcher was spectacular.
But after Montgomery got through a shaky start — one earned run in six innings — in the nightcap, the calls to leave him in the rotation when Yu Darvish returns from a triceps injury only got louder.
After retiring nine of his last 11, the left-hander has a 1.21 ERA in his five starts. He hasn’t pitched less than 5⅔ innings (that was in his first one) or allowed more than one run in any of them.
“We’ll just wait till everybody’s well, and then we’ll make our decision,” said manager Joe Maddon, who said a six-man rotation for a stretch in the second-half is an option. “But honestly I have not even thought about it for a second. First of all, you’ve got to get Yu well to even be worried about something like that.”
Over the weekend, general manager Jed Hoyer suggested Montgomery could pitch his way into a longer-term starting role this year and said the club would use “common sense” once everybody is healthy again.
Meanwhile, as Montgomery racks up quality starts, Chatwood racks up high pitch counts and walks. He had five more walks Tuesday, extending his major-league high to 63 in 68⅓ innings this season.
Chatwood also has six starts in which he has pitched around traffic well enough to allow one or zero runs.
“I joke with him that he feels like he needs people on base to like get after it a little bit,” catcher Chris Gimenez said. “I’m like, ‘It’s OK to not have anybody on base to do that, too.’ ”
Gimenez said Chatwood’s dealing with “a lot of emotions” as he and his wife near the birth of their first child.
Darvish sim game pushed to Wednesday
Because of the long day Tuesday created by Monday’s rainout, Darvish (triceps) had his simulated game/live batting practice session pushed back to Wednesday morning.
Maddon said that once the medical staff evaluates how he fares into Thursday, the Cubs will plan the next step in his rehab.
That could mean sending Darvish out on a minor-league rehab assignment next, but it seems more likely he would have at least one more throwing session before that.
Darvish 2019 homecoming
The Cubs reportedly will open the 2019 season against Darvish’s former team, the Rangers, on March 28 at Texas, according to a tentative scheduled expected to be announced late this season.
It would be the Cubs’ second interleague opener in four years.