Yankees: Can Jordan Montgomery provide much-needed rotation help?


The season just started for the Yankees and the rotation seems to have success written on it if they can stay healthy, but can Jordan Montgomery provide some spark?

There were many questions concerning what the Yankees would do to bolster the starting rotation in the offseason. Many discussions took place about trading for a top starter or signing a top free-agent pitcher, with starters like Luis Severino and Domingo German facing a more uncertain role in their rotation transition.

In 2020, the Yankees put a rotation of Gerrit Cole, James Paxton, J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and Jordan Montgomery together for the start of the season, only to see things fall apart by July. Deivi Garcia made his debut when injuries sidelined Paxton and Severino, and the team wasn’t nearly as deep as it needed to be. After a devastating loss in the postseason, the questions to the rotation needed to be answered.

Now that the 2021 season is in action, the Yankees have answered many of the questions people asked about Gerrit Cole’s support. The Bombers traded for Jameson Taillon and signed Corey Kluber to a one-year deal. Those two transactions, when paired with Jordan Montgomery and the returning Domingo German, filled out the rotation.

Mixed reaction filled baseball nation due to the injuries Taillon and Kluber dealt with the previous season. Also, the suspension that German served for his actions off the field brought questions about whether it would affect his ability to pitch. Although those are legitimate concerns and questions, maybe Montgomery’s progress can give Yankee fans hope.

Montgomery was initially called up in 2017, where he went 9-7. He finished the season with 144 strikeouts. Unfortunately, he would have season-ending surgery during 2018 that would him bench until Sept. 2019.

In his return from surgery, he would appear in two games and collect five strikeouts. In the 2020 season, he won two games and lost three, but saw his ERA fall to around 5.11. During the 2020 season, fans wondered if he would even make the 2021 season’s roster.

In three games during spring training, however, he went 3-0 with an 0.90 ERA, whiffing seven in 10 innings. The key was confidence in the addition of using the cutter. In a press conference, Montgomery said “The cutter has become a weapon I can use more consistently,” and he certainly controlled the narrative when he had the chance this spring.

And don’t forget, he saved New York’s season temporarily in the ALDS, bending but not breaking in a tone-setting Game 4 against the Rays.

Thanks to the addition of the cutter, Montgomery found himself connected with two of the top southpaws in Yankees history in CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Montgomery even explained that they showed him how to throw it. He employed the pitch a bit last year, but is confident to use it more going forward.

Having a connection to Sabathia and Pettitte could certainly lead to Montgomery becoming a dominant southpaw. Being surrounded by veterans like Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber can be the boost the South Carolina alum needs, too.

With spring training behind him, don’t allow the rest of the rotation concerns to distract from the progression of Montgomery’s pitching.