When the Chicago Cubs broke camp, they did so with just one lefty in the bullpen. Brian Duensing headed to the 10-day DL with back spasms but should return soon. But one of the questions we could ask is if Joe Maddon trusts anyone out in the pen beside Mike Montgomery?
The Chicago Cubs dropped their second game of the season–another late loss–this time to the Milwaukee Brewers. And for the second time with a tie game late, Joe Maddon entrusted Mike Montgomery to keep the game there. There are a few questions that will surround this loss. But one of them is why Maddon has very little faith in anyone aside from Montgomery in late-game scenarios like this.
The Cubs will eventually have a second left-hander out in the bullpen with Brian Duensing. He started the season on the 10-day DL. That may or may not have had an effect on why Maddon left Montgomery out there for his third inning of work, but it seemed a bit unnecessary. Everyone is fresh in the pen, no one had been “overused” in the first three games. Was Montgomery really the best matchup against each of the Brewer’s hitters?
There will always be favorites
From the end of last season and through the playoffs it’s clear that Maddon had his favorites. Montgomery is etched in the memory of Cubs’ fans for being the man on the mound while getting the last out in the World Series. But that doesn’t mean he’s the only one that needs to be on the mound in a tie game late.
I can’t pick the brain of Maddon from afar, but I’m sure it comes down to not having another lefty in the pen. The Brewers don’t have the most impressive lineup in the league, so the hope was to keep his one southpaw in as long as he could. This is where losing Travis Wood could hurt. He had lost some effectiveness against right-handers, but wouldn’t fall under the “LOOGY” category.
Playing favorites in the pen will be fine come August and September. But this early in the season is a good time to put some other guys in these high-leverage situations. There are questions about this bullpen as it is. So getting a better gauge on who can handle what would be a solid move.
We’re only four games into the season, and there’s no need to panic on what we’re seeing so far. Once the Cubs’ get Duensing back we may see Maddon get into more of a rhythm with his relievers. The Cubs are still trying to identify specific roles leading up to Wade Davis, and that’s going to take time.