In my first article, I wrote that Dan Vogelbach alone would not be enough to get Andrew Miller. Well, Vogelbach has been traded and the Cubs received (drum roll, please) Seattle Mariners reliever, Mike Montgomery. Wait, who?
The official trade has the Cubs sending first baseman and DH hopeful Vogelbach to the Mariners along with RHP Paul Blackburn in exchange for Montgomery and minor league righty Jordan Pries. The swap makes sense for both sides (right now, at least), especially considering the Cubs need for relief help and Vogelbach’s depth chart status behind All-Star Anthony Rizzo.
Montgomery has put up respectable numbers this season and will certainly help to fortify an iffy Cubs pen. Beyond his more than respectable 2.34 ERA, Montgomery has limited lefties to a pretty outstanding .164 BAA. He has the capability to pitch in matchup situations or for multiple innings at a time, a type of versatility that the front office and Maddon have come to prize dearly.
While Montgomery’s strikeout rate isn’t what you would hope for from a left-handed reliever, his eye-popping 58.8% ground-ball rate should make Cubs fans happy. Montgomery relies most heavily on his 4-seamer and his curveball, while mixing in a power sinker, a sharp cutter, and the occasional changeup. Expect good movement, a low walk rate, the occasional strikeout, and a ton of ground balls.
Montgomery is a bit of a late bloomer. In the words of GM Theo Epstein, the 27-year-old lefty has just begun to “come into his own.” Montgomery comes to the Cubs at a time when the biggest question marks being raised are in the bullpen, particularly the lack of filthy southpaws. Remember the days when the Cubs’ biggest problems were not just the bullpen, but also starting pitching, hitting, defense, the farm system, coaching and the front office? Yeah, let’s try to keep our “issues” in perspective.
Don’t expect this to be the only move the Cubs make, either. Vogelbach was just the Cubs 20th ranked prospect, and there are plenty of potential moves to be made. Sure, Montgomery isn’t as sexy of a name as Miller or Chapman, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.