Jordan Montgomery is the New York Yankees’ secret weapon for their bullpen when it comes to conquering October.
Sure, he hasn’t been in pinstripes since last May. He’s been recovering under the radar and the southpaw is almost ready for his return.
And not a moment too soon for this Yankees team. Montgomery has the opportunity to do something that no one would have ever expected prior to 2017.
Jordan “Gumby” Montgomery can be the savior in multiple roles as the Yankees enter their postseason stretch.
Montgomery quietly put together a stellar rookie campaign, going 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA during the 2017 season. The lefty ended up finishing sixth in the Rookie of the Year race, a contest which no one ever imagined he would be a part of early on.
After succumbing to injury during the early stages of 2018, Montgomery underwent Tommy John surgery and then disappeared from the limelight. In his absence, the Yankees found other pieces to fill the rotation, including trading for James Paxton this offseason and testing out Domingo German in 2018.
But now, with his rehab stint beginning and September right around the corner, Montgomery should be back in pinstripes. But what role could he find himself in during the chilly nights of October?
If the Yankees choose to stretch him out, Gumby can fill in for a starter, especially with the health of CC Sabathia‘s knee constantly in question. Having an extra lefty who has experience of playing in the Bronx could bode well for the team moving forward.
Perhaps the most realistic option, if the Yankees are really looking to trust Montgomery on the biggest stage, would be to use him out of the bullpen. Even if they wanted to use him as a starter in the playoffs, they might roll with a three-man rotation and stretching him out would not be a stellar idea at this point in the season.
Right now, he’s been working through his rehab with short stints. The two-inning performances have looked impressive and if the Yankees don’t want to risk injury by stretching his length, why not give him a shot as an innings eater out of the already dangerous ‘pen?
At the moment, Chad Green, Luis Cessa and Nestor Cortes Jr. are doing that work. Adding Montgomery’s dominant stuff into the bullpen could truly make that ‘pen lights-out come October.
If the opportunity arises to try out the opener strategy that has, honestly, worked pretty well for the Bombers in the regular season, Montgomery could be another key cog as well.
Imagine having an actual starter, although returning from injury, be the primary opener and allowing the rest of that bullpen to work like they always do. It would be a lighter workload and a familiar position for Montgomery, who has struck out 40 batters in 35 first innings in his career. During the shortened 2018 season alone, opponents are batting .100 against him.
While many expect him to jump right into that starting role, they might be disappointed to see Gumby not provide the length they’ve been craving. Montgomery was able to consistently provide performances where he went six innings, something that helped the bullpen. But the reality is, that’s just not a smart pull for him this year.
Adding him into the bullpen mix would be a slam dunk for the Yankees. It would give him some more in-game action while also filling a need with a pitcher who can easily pitch two or three strong innings when necessary.
The automatic reaction is to get him back in the rotation. But could it be that Jordan Montgomery can make a bigger impact in the bullpen?
The postseason is coming quickly and the Yankees have a lot of decisions to make. With Montgomery making the jump to Triple-A and well on his way back to the majors, the bullpen would be the ideal option.