Jordan Montgomery has turned his surprising Yankees departure into a potentially bright future for himself.
The big lefty, now with the Texas Rangers, shut down the defending champion Astros in Game 1 of the ALCS. Montgomery pitched 6.1 shutout innings in the Rangers’ 2-0 win over Houston. He is now 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in three playoff starts.
Talk about winning the breakup!
A quick recap. The Yankees drafted Montgomery out of South Carolina in 2014 and, in time, he became a reliable arm in the rotation. His stuff wasn’t overpowering, but his curveball/changeup combination induced whiffs and he was often a lock to eat some innings. It made his being traded to St. Louis for an injured Harrison Bader all the more confusing, even if he’d be the odd arm out in the playoffs.
Cue a new uniform, a newer confidence in his fastball, and Jordan Montgomery looks like a whole new pitcher. He’s posted a 3.17 ERA with both St. Louis and Texas.
Most importantly, for him at least, it’s his contract year. Come winter, he’s getting a multiyear deal and maybe even $20 million a year.
The Yankees could also have spots open in their rotation. They’ll probably spend at least a little bit this offseason, so could Montgomery put the pinstripes back on?
Folks on #YankeesTwitter won’t like this answer, but probably not. For what it’s worth, Montgomery wasn’t too happy about being traded and it’s hard to imagine all will be forgiven with a big contract. He’ll still get his money, just not from the Bronx.
But more importantly, it just seems the Yankees’ pitching philosophy, great as pitching coach Matt Blake is, just isn’t what’s best for Montgomery. Looking at FanGraphs, he only threw both his four and two-seam fastballs 38.2% of the time in 2021, his last full season in New York. The rest of his pitch use in order was changeup (24.4%), curveball (23.7%), and cutter (13.7%).
The next two seasons, across three teams, Montgomery has thrown his fastballs, primarily the sinker, over 50% of the time. The cutter is all but gone. Where was this pitcher in New York?
The truth is that sometimes, a team and a player just aren’t a good match anymore. The Yankees tried it their way with Jordan Montgomery, got some good years and starts out of him, and moved on. If anything, veteran pitching coach Mike Maddux unlocking something in him proves that Brian Cashman’s vaunted analytics team missed something.
Thus, even with Hal Steinbrenner’s promised changes, don’t expect Jordan Montgomery back on the Yankees. Between baseball reasons and potential lingering hard feelings, it’s just not going to happen.