Sunday night's Texas Rangers defeat of the Houston Astros in ALCS Game 1 still feels a little fool's gold-y. After all, Houston could not have performed worse offensively; a leaping Evan Carter catch and Jose Altuve base running blunder shut down their singular scoring chance. Will that really be the series' theme? Or will the whole thing be turned around by a thunderous smack, like the David Ortiz grand slam that got the 2013 Red Sox back on track?
Regardless of how sustainable the beatdown was, Jordan Montgomery deserves utmost credit for delivering the hammer.
According to Bob Nightengale's column Sunday, the Yankees and Cardinals will both pursue a reunion with Montgomery after his exceptional postseason ends. The lefty remained unbeaten in postseason play during his career by taking home the Game 1 win, which sounds like the type of pitcher who might've just been valuable if he'd managed to crack the vaunted 2022 Yankees playoff rotation. But maybe that's just us.
Montgomery's ALCS debut lasted 6.1 innings, and he allowed five hits and a walk while striking out six. Three of those strikeouts involved Yordan Alvarez waving over pitches off the plate after being lulled into a trance, thanks to Monty being allergic to the heart of the dish.
Yankees should re-sign Jordan Montgomery after postseason domination
Was this always the plan? Float Montgomery for a year and a half, take a chance on Bader, then re-sign him once his free agency arrived, cost be damned? If so, the Yankees will lose some money they could've saved with an extension, but they'll gain a pitcher who improved under someone else's tutelage. Weird logic, but all's well that ends well as long as Monty's progress is sustainable.
He's certainly been road-graded this postseason, tested at the Trop, Camden Yards and Enron (jk) Field, a place he shockingly never pitched in October with the Yankees. Sunday night was his first-ever playoff start against the Astros, and he summoned Andy Pettitte's fastball inside, staying completely away from the middle of the plate against Alvarez in a masterpiece to behold.
Could the Yankees really repeat the Pettitte trajectory 20 years after letting their homegrown left-hander waltz to Houston, then return home? The Pettitte-sized hole in the Yankees' rotation was partially responsible for New York's 2004 ALCS collapse to the Red Sox. At least Montgomery's departure didn't result in any kind of similar disaster for the Yankees. Plus, he learned some valuable lessons on the outside.
The contract will be costly, but the Yankees' operation makes money hand over fist. They'll either pass on Montgomery this offseason, doubling down on their miscalculation, or they'll have to bite the financial bullet. Hopefully, they don't swing and miss, Yordan-style.