Yankees: Three goals for Jordan Montgomery in 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 05: Jordan Montgomery
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 05: Jordan Montgomery /

The Yankees starting rotation is pretty set heading into the season. Barring any other signings, they will feature Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, Jordan Montgomery, and C.C. Sabathia.

Reports have come out indicating general manager Brian Cashman has interest in Yu Darvish, but other than that there have not been any recent rumors about starting pitching. With that being said, Jordan Montgomery is projected to get a full-time role in the Yankees rotation.

Monty put together a stellar rookie season and could be a legitimate long-term pitching option for the future. Aside from a small rough patch, he showed an abundance of potential in ’17 that surprised many.

Over 29 starts, he went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA, 144 strikeouts and a better than average .275 BABIP.

As Montgomery gears up for the season, here are three goals for him to have a successful sophomore campaign

1. More innings

Montgomery threw 155 innings last season. Part of this was due to the Yankees preserving him by skipping some of his starts. However, he averaged a little over five innings per start last season.

This is a result of giving up runs early or getting into jams and having to pitch out of them. More experience is sure to combat this issue and allow Montgomery to throw more innings this season.

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The Yankees are going to need Gumby to be an inning eater more than ever with CC Sabathia re-signing earlier this offseason. With the big fella pushing 37-years-old, he needs to establish himself as a workhorse in the backend of the rotation. Now is the time to shoot for 180-200 innings.

2. First pitch strikes

A high first-pitch strike rate is the building block of an excellent starting pitcher. Elite starters like Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber have rates in the mid-high 60s.

Starting a count 0-1 versus 1-0 leads to more strikeouts, lower ERA’s and decreased walks; all things that encapsulate a dominant pitcher.

Montgomery’s rate was not bad at all at 59.9 percent, but there is always room for improvement.

He was still able to have a productive season even with a sub 60 first-pitch strike rate. If he breaks the low-mid 60s this year, it will result in a significantly better season and make the Yanks’ rotation even better.

3. Don’t try and do too much

Again, with Sabathia returning, it will put even more pressure on Monty to anchor the back of the rotation. I’m not saying that Sabathia is going to have a bad season. It will just be harder for him to put up the same numbers as last year being a year older and more injury prone.

Montgomery needs to focus on pitching quality innings and giving his team a chance to win every time he steps on the mound. He does not need to be dominant to be valuable. We have Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka for that.

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Monty has a serious opportunity in front of him. If he continues this trend, he is poised to have another productive year.

He is no Cy Young candidate but is precisely what the Yankees need. Montgomery needs to prove that he can be more than just a bridge to the bullpen.