Matt Marton | USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees’ explanation for making the Harrison Bader-for-Jordan Montgomery trade at the deadline made enough sense. They had decided Montgomery would not make the postseason rotation. And he is not a good fit in the bullpen. So might as well get Bader — a defense-first center fielder — to take pressure off Aaron Judge and shore up a messy outfield situation. Even if they had to wait a few weeks for him to be healthy.

That said, how the hell did the Yankees decide Montgomery was not in the plans? General manager Brian Cashman was able to talk his way through the inquiry before Monday’s Subway Series win over the Mets. But he likely will not be able to do that much longer.

Montgomery tossed a one-hit complete game shutout for the Cardinals on Monday, blanking the Cubs, 1-0, on just 99 pitches. The southpaw is now 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA and a 0.62 WHIP with St. Louis. He’s been brilliant. And the Yankees will run Frankie Montas back out against the Mets on Tuesday night.

Cashman looks bad right now. Especially when you consider Montgomery was good with the Yankees to begin with. This is not revisionist history.

It would be unfair to ding Cashman for Joey Gallo’s Hollywood revival. Everyone figured he would be more productive once he got to a place where no one cared quite as much. But Montgomery pitched into the sixth inning almost every start and was having his second straight season with an ERA in the threes. He was also one of only a handful of starters on staff with postseason experience.

It’s hard to understand why the Yankees felt the urge to give up on him. But they did. The Cardinals are now one of the hottest teams in baseball. And the Yankees, well, you know. Not that Montgomery is solely responsible on either side. But he has certainly contributed to the cause. Bader needs to play like an All-Star upon his return for Cashman’s sake. And Montas had better figure it out soon.

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James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.