2. Jordan Montgomery
Heading into his second year of arbitration eligibility, Jordan Montgomery has proven over the last two years that he should be a mainstay in the starting rotation. His 2020 regular season wasn’t pretty, but his gutsy performance to keep the Yankees alive in Game 4 of the ALDS said it all.
Then, in 2021, he finished the year with a 3.83 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 162 strikeouts across 30 starts (157.1 innings). It was his best season as a starter and also featured his highest workload. He especially deserves a ton of credit for the criminal lack of run support he received, too.
The Yankees have made many mistakes in the past with their failures to invest in starting pitching, but the Gerrit Cole signing and gamble on Corey Kluber suggest they’re trying to dispel that notion. Signing Monty to an extension would be another helpful indication of that.
When you factor in the eternal uncertainty surrounding Luis Severino, another injury-prone starter in Jameson Taillon (who’s already going to miss the start of 2022), and a potentially undefined role for Nestor Cortes Jr. (is he going to be this good as a starter next year?), the need for Montgomery to provide stability in the middle of the rotation feels essential for this team to take the next step and work toward contender status.
The lefty will be entering his age-29 season in 2022 and he’s signed through 2023, but it wouldn’t be a bad move to give him a bit of a raise and show you want to keep him beyond his controllable years. It’d provide the Yankees with a clearer picture down the road, which is something they haven’t had with their pitching staff in over a decade.