Not to be spectacular, but to be dependable amid a rotation sea of unpredictable peers.
As long as Montgomery’s conditioned and ready to throw 150-175 above-average innings from the No. 4 spot, though, that makes every big swing made by Brian Cashman to round out the staff more palatable.
So far this spring, so very good from the Montgomery, the Bend-Don’t-Break King.
Known for clogging the bases before navigating out of trouble, it’s possible Monty intends to keep his opponents off the base paths entirely this year, instead.
Judging by the reaction from Didi Gregorius on this two-strike breaking ball in the first inning Sunday, Montgomery’s stuff appears to have leveled up nearly two years removed from Tommy John surgery.
Yankees lefty Jordan Montgomery hit another level on Sunday.
Any lefty has to know an 0-2 chase pitch is coming in that scenario, likely a breaking ball burrowed into the dirt.
Gregorius got a sweeping breaking ball, and couldn’t even fathom where it was landing. Not sure we’ve seen a batter have that type of reaction against Montgomery in a while.
After all, the fastball looked a bit crisper at 93-94, too. And when Montgomery’s heater is ticking the mid-90s with low effort, the breaking ball naturally looks more deceptive.
Yes, we know this is a spring training judgment. We’re well aware.
But remember: the Yankees don’t need Montgomery to constantly flash ace-like stuff to this degree. They just need it to appear from time to time in an otherwise solid body of work. His third inning, which he navigated out of without a run after a bloop single and infield hit, looked a lot more like what you can typically expect from the big lefty (who, it should be noted, arrived to camp 15 pounds lighter this year).
Mix soft contact, the occasional whiff, and an excess of mental fortitude together, and you’ve got the perfect package for Montgomery to be a successful mid-rotation starter.
His ALDS Game 4 start last year should serve as an official data point in favor of his gumption; the red-hot Rays were left frustrated and befuddled in a must-win game, rarely able to push their men in scoring position over the line.
If he can break off a curve like this with consistency, too? Then yes, the Yankees have found their No. 4, likely for quite a while.