Back in Cubs’ rotation, Montgomery starts vs. Reds

CINCINNATI — Mike Montgomery’s current stint in the Chicago Cubs’ rotation isn’t necessarily an audition for 2018. Manager Joe Maddon already is convinced that the 28-year-old left-hander’s future isn’t in the bullpen.

“He is a starter,” Maddon said Tuesday. “I see him as a major league starter who we utilize in our bullpen. The reason that he’s done so well is that he’s accepted that (role). He knows his time is going to come. I tell him that all the time.”

Montgomery (3-6, 3.63 ERA) is scheduled to make his ninth start of the season on Wednesday night in the second of three games against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. It will be his first start since he was inserted into the Cubs’ rotation when Jon Lester went on the disabled list. Montgomery’s last start was July 19 at Atlanta.

As a starter, Montgomery owns a 5.13 ERA. In his last outing, Montgomery tossed 4 1/3 shutout innings against the Reds, which tied the longest relief outing for a Cubs pitcher this season.

“The work he’s done in the bullpen and his spot starts have been great,” Maddon said. “He’s got a lot of different weapons. As he learns not to force pitches in situations, he’s going to get really good. The big thing is his fastball command. When his fastball is going exactly where he wants it to, he’s really going to take off fast.”

Right-hander Asher Wojciechowski hopes to be a part of the Reds’ future plans as well. Wojciechowski (3-2, 5.36 ERA) will make his 17th appearance of the season and eighth start. He is one of four rookies currently in Cincinnati’s rotation. It is his second career appearance and start against the Cubs. The first one didn’t go so well.

On Aug. 14 at Wrigley Field, Wojciechowski lasted just 3 2/3 innings and allowed seven runs in a 15-5 loss. He yielded 10 hits, including two home runs. Wojciechowski didn’t walk a batter while striking out five that day.

The Reds (53-73) are rebuilding around young pitching. They want to get a look at several of their top young arms, including Wojciechowski, in the closing weeks.

“They can’t all make the team, but what we have to do is make sure that 2018 isn’t another 2017, where we haven’t moved the needle forward at all,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “If we have an open tryout in 2018, that will be a big mistake for us. A boost could come from having (Brandon) Finnegan back and having (Anthony) DeSclafani back.”

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, a consummate Cubs killer, has reached base in 26 consecutive games, one shy of his season-best streak. Votto has three homers, five doubles and 13 RBIs in 14 games this season against the Cubs.

The Cubs (67-57) have won 27 of the past 36 games against the Reds, and they have a chance to clinch their eighth victory in the previous 12 series with a win on Wednesday. The teams split a four-game series at Wrigley Field last week.