Former New York Yankees back-end starter Jordan Montgomery has experienced a resurgence in St. Louis. Conveniently, his turnaround came immediately after the Yankees pulled the trigger and dealt him to the Cardinals.
Couple that with the fact that Brian Cashman effectively replaced Montgomery with Frankie Montas and didn’t add any depth to the rotation, and you’ve got yourself a hot-button topic, with or without a Montgomery mid-career breakout.
But the breakout did come, and days after Cashman made it clear he didn’t think Montgomery would be a part of a theoretical 2022 Yankees playoff rotation, the left-hander began the long climb to cementing his spot in St. Louis’ postseason quartet (and the climb ended up being pretty short, actually).
When pressed on what changed between the two stops, Montgomery confessed plenty on Ryan Ruocco and CC Sabathia’s R2C2 podcast this past week, making it clear he lost confidence in his fastball because of the Yankees’ teachings, then regained it right away in The Lou.
Perception is often reality, but how true could that really be? The Yankees couldn’t see any value in Montgomery’s fastball? They couldn’t, at least, see how uncomfortable that advice was making the lefty?
Guru pitching coach Matt Blake stepped into the fray to rebut some of Montgomery’s assertions on Tuesday before the Yankees began play at Fenway Park, speaking to The New York Post about his (and the team’s) side of the story.
Matt Blake responds to former Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery
On the one hand … of course he did. No matter what really went down, you don’t really want a revamped Monty cracking wise about how the Yankees were too foolish to figure out his fastball.
On the other, Blake’s rebuttal — coming in the wake of a difficult Montgomery start with six runs allowed (four earned) against the Brewers — feels well-measured, and like a perspective worth hearing.
This also isn’t the first time Montgomery has taken a sneaky shot at his former club, though this time around, he was a little more explicit.
Blake continued to rebut Montgomery’s assertion by giving examples of Yankees acquisitions who have been told to emphasize their fastballs, not stray away from them. This point didn’t seem quite as salient; Montgomery’s accusation wasn’t that the Yankees hate fastballs in general, but rather that they didn’t like his fastball.
Regardless, Blake wanted to make it very clear that his philosophy involves whittling down a pitcher’s arsenal to only his most effective options, then playing those options up.
Not enough heat for you? In manager Aaron Boone’s appearance on The Michael Kay Show on Thursday, he didn’t mince words.
When asked if Montgomery’s recent comments on the Yankees’ “tinkering” were unfair, he plainly said he believed they were, then took a little jab at the NL Central.
Yankees-Cardinals World Series, we beg of you. Deliver yourself.
Maybe Montgomery’s early success has been a smidgen of fool’s gold. He’s always been a good pitcher, and will continue to be one, but facing the Nationals, stripped-down Yankees and Cubs, all with renewed confidence, won’t give anyone a complete picture of what kind of pitcher he’ll be next season and beyond.
That said, Montgomery has proven time and again in August and September, that he’s capable of dominating on any given day if he feels empowered to do so, and for whatever reason, he didn’t feel Blake and the Yankees had set him up to be the best version of himself. Nothing Blake claims can change that feeling.