Montgomery likely to get one more start

Montgomery likely to get one more start

CHICAGO -- Lefty Mike Montgomery will be in the bullpen for now, and most likely will be inserted into the rotation for one more start next week during the Cubs' final regular-season road trip. The addition of Montgomery has created what manager Joe Maddon calls a "soft" six-man rotation.

The Cubs, who clinched the National League Central title late Thursday, are trying to keep their pitchers fresh heading into the postseason. Montgomery has made five starts, posting a 3.33 ERA in those outings. Because of the off-day coming up on Thursday, he was not needed this turn.

"There will be plenty of time for rest for a lot of these guys," Maddon said.

Having two weeks to prepare for the postseason is unique, and there are still goals to be met.

"You want to win 100 games and clinch home field, absolutely," Maddon said. "There are still short-term goals that lead to long-term benefits. We want all that."

Why 100 wins?

"It's a pretty neat number," Maddon said. "I've never done that before."

Maddon and the coaching staff have had general discussions regarding the playoff roster, but the Cubs need to know who they're facing before finalizing anything. If the Cubs clinch the best record in the National League, that won't be decided until the NL Wild Card Game is played Oct. 5. The Cubs would then open the best-of-five NL Division Series at Wrigley Field on Oct. 7, and the game will be broadcast on FS1 and MLB Network.

Maddon didn't feel the scouting staff needed to do anything differently in preparation.

"The way we scout and do things now, it's so extensive," Maddon said. "Whoever it is, just take the stuff we've been utilizing and apply it to that particular day."

Among Maddon's goals in the final two weeks of regular-season games is to post lineups in advance so players know when they'll get days off, and avoid using relievers more than two days in a row. He also wants to get the reserves plenty of at-bats.

Worth noting
Jorge Soler, who came out of Friday's game with a sore right side, underwent an MRI, and all signs point to him returning to the Cubs' lineup this week.

"It was almost a 'normal' MRI and there was nothing hot or bad," Maddon said. "We'll treat it like a day-to-day situation. Hopefully, he'll be back [Monday] or the next day."

• Maddon said he did notice that Jake Arrieta's velocity was down a little during Saturday's start, but wasn't concerned.

"He's not complaining about being tired or anything," Maddon said. "He's fine."

Pitching coach Chris Bosio told Maddon that Arrieta wanted to "throttle back a little bit" and was more concerned about placement than overpowering hitters against the Brewers.

"His ball moves in ways that nobody else's does," Maddon said. "It's sinking, it's all over the map. He has one of the best curveballs, a cutter. He's got all these weapons. It's just the fastball command has been off."

• The Cubs' instructional league begins in Mesa, Ariz., on Monday. Besides the daily drills, a select group will combine with Angels players to play games vs. other teams in the Valley. The Cubs' prospects on that team include pitchers Dylan Cease, Jared Cheek, Oscar De La Cruz, Jordan Minch, Kyle Miller, Tommy Nance, James Norwood, Carson Sands, Justin Steele and Jen-Ho Tseng; catchers P.J. Higgins, Alberto Mineo and Ian Rice; infielders Carlos Sepulveda and Jason Vosler; and outfielders Donnie Dewees and Eddy Martinez.

The Cubs' top 2016 Draft pick, right-hander Thomas Hatch, who was selected in the third round, will take part in the workouts at the team complex in Mesa.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.