Cubs fans will never forget the ground ball hit by Michael Martinez of the Indians that was picked up by Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and KB's subsequent throw to Anthony Rizzo to end the 108 year stretch between World Series Championships. On the mound for that pitch was Mike Montgomery. Many people would settle for that distinction as only one pitcher can be on that respective mound. Montgomery had just come into the game to face Martinez, after the Indians had cut the Cubs two run lead to one in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game Seven of the World Series. Though he did not pitch a complete game like Overall and Brown, Montgomery should be proud of the image that will force him to forever be remembered in Cubs lore.
Mike Montgomery is now pitching for the Kansas City Royals, the same team that drafted him in the first round (36th overall) in the 2008 draft. His career has, perhaps, come full circle as he is reunited with his first organization after eleven years. It is very easy to forget that he was once a very hyped prospect with the Royals in 2010 (#39 of the Top 100 MLB prospects by Baseball America and #36 by Baseball Prospectus), 2011 (#19 by Baseball America, #21 by Baseball Prospectus), and 2012 (#23 by Baseball America, #31 by Major League Baseball) 1. There was no question Montgomery was still considered a top prospect when the Royals traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays after the 2012 season in a multiplayer deal involving James Shields and Wade Davis. Outfielder WIl Myers was the headlining piece the Rays received in the deal, though Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi were considered major acquisitions by the Rays in the deal. Infielder Patrick Leonard, the final of the four players sent to Tampa in the trade, is hitting over .300 in Double-A with the Biloxi Shuckers in the Milwaukee Brewers system with still a lukewarm shot of getting to the Major Leagues.
After winning 10 games, losing five, and making 25 starts in Triple-A in 2014, Montgomery was traded to the Seattle Mariners just prior to the start of the 2015 season in exchange for starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. Montgomery made his Major League debut for the Mariners in 2015, giving up just a run over six innings against the Yankees. He would throw two complete game shutouts for Seattle in just 16 starts, the only two shutouts he has thrown in his career to this point. In 2016, after pitching to a 2.34 earned run average for the Mariners in 32 games (2 starts), he was dealt to the Cubs just prior to the trading deadline with a minor leaguer in exchange for first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. Over the course of the 2016 postseason, Montgomery would pitch in 11 games as a relief pitcher and finish with a sub 3.00 ERA.
After some back and forth between the rotation and bullpen in 2017 and 2018 and some above average results, the Montgomery found himself in roster limbo in spring training this March. The Cubs had a five man rotation with sixth starter Tyler Chatwood forced into a long relief role. Montgomery has never fit the build as a back of the bullpen arm. Because of this, the Cubs may not have been a fit this season. Add in the fact that he pitched to a 5.67 ERA in 27 innings, the Cubs traded him to the Royals- the same deal that sent catcher Martin Maldonado to the Cubs. (Maldonado has since been traded to the Houston Astros.) The Royals have given Montgomery a chance to start again, though he has been far from dominant. He did pitch seven shutout innings against the Tigers in a game where he also had 12 strikeouts. He followed that up with a six inning performance against the Mets where he gave up one unearned run for his second consecutive win.
Do I believe Mike Montgomery will ever become a star? An All-Star? A Cy Young candidate? Probably not. But it is not to say it was never envisioned during his time as a prospect for the Royals. Kansas City will give him a chance to prove he can be a starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. He will either prove he has the tools to do so, or will simply be the answer to a trivia question about the last out of Cubs' World Series victories.
1. All prospect data cited from BaseballReference.com