Montgomery transitioning smoothly to bullpen

Left-hander has a 1.99 ERA in his first 15 relief appearances

May 21st, 2016

CINCINNATI -- Scott Servais knew that once the Mariners had tied up Friday night's game against the Reds in the top of the seventh inning, he was going to use reliever Mike Montgomery in the bottom of the inning. The lefty, who is being used out of the bullpen for the first time this season after making 16 starts as a rookie last season, ended up going to the mound with a two-run lead to protect.

Montgomery gave up a one-out single to Billy Hamilton but then induced Joey Votto to hit into an inning-ending double play, earning his first hold of the season in an eventual 8-3 victory. The outing was a continuation of Montgomery's successful transition to the bullpen. In his last 12 games, covering 17 2/3 innings, Montgomery has allowed just one earned run. He has yet to allow any of the six runners he has inherited to score, as he has filled a variety of roles for Servais.

So when the seventh inning came on Friday, Servais had his mind made up on who would be taking over for starter Hisashi Iwakuma.

"I think when we left spring training, we didn't know what we were going to get," Servais said of Montgomery's transition to the bullpen. "[Friday] night, where the game was, whether we were tied or took the lead, we knew we were going to go to him, and let's see what we've got. He came in and threw strikes. He was aggressive, he got the key-double play ball. The lineup, where they were at they had some lefties in there. We thought it was a good fit."

Montgomery turned the ball over to Nick Vincent for the eighth inning before Joel Peralta finished the game with a scoreless ninth. Closer Steve Cishek was warmed up and ready to pitch the last inning, but Peralta got the call after the Mariners tacked on three runs in the ninth.

The Mariners' bullpen is ranked No. 4 in the American League with a 2.76 ERA and leads the league with an opposing batting average of .196 and just 87 hits allowed in 124 innings. Montgomery's successful transition has been a big reason why.

"I think my role has been pretty versatile, whether it's coming in early or finishing games with leads," said Montgomery. "I think we do have some roles with Cishek and [Joaquin] Benoit being those late guys right now but we've had Vincent do a role and [Vidal] Nuno. I think if those guys need a break and are tired that we have other guys who can do it, too. The beauty of it is we have different roles that we can interchange and keep our arms fresh."