At the beginning of this season, the Yankees were challenged with a tough question: who is going to be the fifth starter? Jordan Montgomery has turned out to be all the Yankees could have asked for and more.
Montgomery, drafted as the 122nd pick in the 2014 MLB draft, is looking like one of the best draft picks the Yankees have made in the past couple of years. Montgomery has seemingly never disappointed the Yankees, even through his minor league career, and the statistics speak for themselves.
Montgomery’s minor league statistics were exceptional, he went 25-14, with a 2.57 ERA, in 61 games, over 297.2 innings pitched. This guy was as legitimate on paper as anyone in the minors. These statistics led the Yankees to offer him a Spring Training invitation in 2017, where Montgomery was able to show the Yankees he was for real.
With C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Masahiro Tanaka already having solidified spots in the rotation, it was going to be a challenge for Montgomery to get one of those two remaining rotation spots in Spring Training. To make matter worse, Luis Severino began to look like the top prospect he was in the minor leagues, and he deservedly locked up the fourth spot in the rotation.
Proving Himself With Numbers
Montgomery had some tough competition, with the likes of Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, and Adam Warren. Warren, with five years of experience on Montgomery, would probably have been the textbook decision. However, this did not seem to faze Montgomery at all, as he had a 3.20 ERA in 19 2/3 innings this spring.
Video courtesy of the YES Network
After not having decided who their fifth starter would be, the Yankees decided to send Montgomery down to AAA Scranton-Wilkes/Barre at the end of Spring Training, not having decided who their fifth starter would be.
Fortunately for Montgomery and the Yankees, due to scheduling, they would not need a fifth starter until April 16th. This allowed Montgomery to go down to the minors and prove that he was ready for the show.
Ready For the Show
In his only start in AAA in 2017, Montgomery pitched five innings, with eight strikeouts, and only walked one batter. The Yankees had seen enough at this point and made the decision to call up Montgomery to the MLB. As many Yankees coaches have said, “He shows poise on the mound that is well beyond his years.”
In 10 games since being called up to the Yankees, he has gone 3-4, with a 3.67 ERA, 53 strikeouts, in 56.1 innings pitched. This stat line does not jump off the paper, but when considering Montgomery lacked any major league experience before this, it is quite impressive.
Any fan that has watched him pitch can attest to his poise and stature on the mound, which is eerily similar to former Yankee Andy Pettitte. I am not a huge fan of comparisons, but if Montgomery can be anything like Pettitte, then the Yankees are in for something special.
First Scoreless Outing
Montgomery has been pitching very well this season, but his performance on June 3rd proved why the Yankees made the right decision. Turning in his first ever scoreless start, pitching six innings, while only allowing three hits, and striking out 5.
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Montgomery had batters looking foolish on his breaking balls, and his command seemed to improve as the game went on. Although he had three walks, anybody who watched the game could attest to the fact that his stuff was the best we have ever seen from him.
His number of walks will come down with time, as his comfort level improves, and he gets adjusted to pitching in the big leagues.
The rookie has come a long way since his first start, and that was very apparent in his last start. He finally looks like the solid MLB starter that all the fans were hoping for.
If he can go a little further into games, and keep that pitch count down, which has plagued him in all of his starts, he is going to be one of the premier starters for the Yankees for years to come.
This should be incredibly exciting to all Yankee fans. The Yankees have been struggling with pitching for the past few seasons. Montgomery should be able to come in and finally sure up that fifth spot in the rotation, something that the Yankees have been waiting to see for some time.
Look for Montgomery to come into his next start with a ton of confidence, which should lead to another outstanding performance. The Yankees are finally catching a break for once, with all the pitching troubles they have faced over the past few seasons. Without a doubt, the Yankees made the right decision on this one.