Duensing's confidence bringing results for Chicago Cubs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, left, and relief pitcher Brian Duensing celebrate the team's 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox in a baseball game Tuesday, July 25, 2017, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, left, and relief pitcher Brian Duensing celebrate the team's 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox in a baseball game Tuesday, July 25, 2017, in Chicago.

 
 
Updated 7/29/2017 8:12 PM

MILWAUKEE -- The under-the-radar pickup for the Chicago Cubs -- and maybe all of baseball -- last season was left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery.

This year, that title on the Cubs might go to left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, signed last winter as a free agent.

 

After a rocky April, during which Duensing posted an 8.10 ERA, he has gone on quite a nice roll.

In July, Duensing had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.64 entering Saturday's game against the Brewers at Miller Park.

In his previous 36 games, from April 24 through Friday, he had a 1.42 ERA and averaged 9.95 strikeouts per 9 innings.

"Confidence," manager Joe Maddon said. "I just think he got his feet on the ground with us. Our guys love him. In the off-season, that's all I heard about. Early on, it didn't play out really good for him. But I think we did a better job of getting him on the right guys as we got to know him better.

"He's very durable. I didn't realize how durable he actually is.

"Look at his numbers against righties. They're pretty good. That's a big part of his success, also. He's getting some really significant outs for us right now. I have a lot of confidence in him because I think he can pitch through a tough righty right now. He had been a starter in the past, so he knows what that's all like."

Entering Saturday, right-handed batters were 19-for-102 (.186) against Duensing.

Rotation switch:

Joe Maddon said he will move Jon Lester up one day in the rotation. Lester will pitch Tuesday's series opener at Wrigley Field against the Diamondbacks, with Jake Arrieta going Wednesday. That is a flip-flop in plans, and it's made possible by an off-day Monday.

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Maddon said Lester will be attending a funeral on Wednesday.

Liking the group he has:

The nonwaiver trading deadline arrives Monday at 3 p.m., Chicago time. Joe Maddon again said he likes the group the Cubs have and would prefer not to see a player traded off the major-league roster.

"We like our guys; we like our team," Maddon said. "I don't talk to them (the front office) on a daily basis about that. They come to me when they've got something cooking. I prefer it being that way.

"I like this group here, a lot. I think we have all the ingredients we need right here, and there are also some kids in Triple-A that can still help, too.

"So whatever the boys decide, I'm fine with it. I don't necessarily see a subtraction among the position-player group or anybody that's here really. I'd be surprised if the addition is through subtraction here."

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