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The “Curious” Case For Jordan Montgomery To Be In Yankees’ Rotation
- Updated: March 20, 2017
On Friday, the New York Yankees threw a combined no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers. The game was started by ace Masahiro Tanaka, but it was finished by young left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery. Pitching four perfect innings to seal the no-hitter for the Bronx Bombers, Montgomery now has Joe Girardi thinking. AQuoted by the New York Daily News, Girardi said of Montgomery, “we’re curious about him.” The implication from that statement is that the Yankees are now inserting a new name into the starting pitching competition. With the new consideration, Montgomery (who has only pitched out of the bullpen thus far in Spring Training) will have an opportunity to make his case for the rotation later this week when he will start a game.
For Those Who Do Not Know
For some fans of the Yankees, Jordan Montgomery is an unknown. He has yet to see any MLB action and he is not one of the top prospects within the organization. According to the MLB Pipeline, Montgomery ranks thirteenth within the organization. The highest Montgomery has reached in the organization is Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was a fourth-round draft pick for the Yankees in 2014 out of the University of South Carolina.
His scouting grades will not blow anybody away. On a scale that runs from 20-80, Montgomery ranks as an overall 50 in terms of how his stuff looks and how he will project. Montgomery has smooth mechanics that he has shown the ability to repeat without trouble. Even though Montgomery trails Justus Sheffield, Albert Abreu, and James Kaprielian in the prospect rankings, Montgomery is the one who’s getting the potential opportunity to be in the rotation.
Strong in the Minors
Jordan Montgomery has pitched three seasons in minor league baseball. He has soared through the minor league levels with relative ease in his young professional career. His career minor league ERA in 60 games (56 starts) is 2.61. Last season, Montgomery had a 14-5 record with a 2.13 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 25 games pitched between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A.
The majority of those 25 starts came in Double-A, but his numbers remained constant between the two. Actually, Montgomery pitched better in his six starts in Triple-A. In his six Triple-A starts, Montgomery posted a 0.97 ERA while striking out 37 batters in 37 innings. Montgomery only walked 9 batters in those starts as well, helping his WHIP be an even 1.000. While strong minor league numbers are not a guarantee of succeeding at the MLB level, it certainly does not hurt Montgomery’s case. Since 2015, Montgomery’s highest ERA came in High-A ball in Tampa. That ERA was 3.08.
Impressing the Boss
Heading into Spring Training, there were no expectations for Jordan Montgomery. His number is 90 currently and the thought was he would get to show his stuff to Joe Girardi for a potential call-up later in the season. At best, the thought was Montgomery might pitch well enough to earn a spot in the bullpen. Now, Montgomery has turned heads with his strong spring. From the same New York Daily News article, Girardi states “we like him a lot… He’s got a good breaking ball, a good changeup and throws a downward angle, which we like.” Obviously, Montgomery has taken this opportunity in Spring Training to its fullest potential thus far.
Solid Spring Training Numbers
So far in Spring Training, Montgomery has pitched in four games for a total of 10.1 innings. In those 10.1 innings of work, he has posted a 3.48 ERA with opponents only batting .179 off of him. While Montgomery’s ERA is not lower than Adam Warren’s or Chad Green’s, his opponents’ batting average is a lot better than theirs (Warren: .220; Green: .226). Between the two statistics, the opponents’ batting average is one I prefer to take more merit in since it’s Spring Training. Warren’s ERA is only lower than Montgomery’s since he has pitched 1.1 more innings (they both have given up 4 earned runs).
Montgomery’s “bad” statistic is that he has given up 7 total runs (3 unearned). While the defense Montgomery would be pitching with at the MLB level will be better than the invitees that have normally been playing behind him, Montgomery needs to have damage control on the mound. However, this is not something I would be too worried about.
Sneaking Into a Two Horse Race
At this point, the pitching competition for the final two spots in the rotation is most likely narrowed down between Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino. Adam Warren has lookws strong in Spring Training, but he is considered to be a bullpen arm too strongly to break that barrier into the rotation. Chad Green has a solid ERA, but he has allowed 12 baserunners in only 8.2 innings of work (7 hits, 5 walks). Meanwhile, Luis Cessa has effectively pitched his way out of the competition with a 7.04 ERA in 7.2 innings.
Luis Severino will be the fourth starter in the rotation to begin this season. Barring any injury, Severino has demonstrated that he can throw three quality pitches that should help him avoid his struggles from last season. For Montgomery, it comes down to stealing the spot from Bryan Mitchell. Mitchell is highly thought of within the organization. He has a lively fastball and a massive upside. Mitchell would have been in the rotation at the beginning of last season had it not been for an injury. However, if Montgomery can continue on his upward trend (and Mitchell continues to struggle a bit), Montgomery could find himself as the fifth starter.
The Main Point for Jordan Montgomery
In my personal opinion, if Joe Girardi thinks Montgomery is MLB ready, then he should be in the starting rotation. He does not pitch like the conventional lefty on the bump, which should be a massive plus for the young pitcher. While I think highly of Bryan Mitchell (and have stated how I thought he should be in the rotation), the emergence of Montgomery has swayed my opinion about this competition. It comes down to one simple thing: another left-handed pitcher in the rotation is always a plus.