clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jordan Montgomery ranks among potential breakout starters

Who are the young pitchers to watch in 2020?

Minnesota Twins v. New York Yankees

Every year, breakout players emerge for fans to appreciate. This past season both Gio Urshela and Domingo German surprised many throughout baseball, helping the Yankees en route to winning 103 games. Next season fans are hoping Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, or Michael King can continue the trend for the organization. As we pay attention to the Yankees this offseason looking to take the next step into the World Series, here are some other teams who have breakout candidates who can propel them into the postseason.

Dinelson Lamet

The San Diego Padres have made multiple moves to improve their chances in 2020. Tommy Pham, Jurickson Profar, and Trent Grisham have all been added through trade, while Drew Pomeranz signed as a free agent to join Kirby Yates in the bullpen. The team is young, but has veterans like Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado. They also recently saw Chris Paddack and Fernando Tatis Jr. enjoy success in the majors. One more player, however, could make an impact in 2020. Dinelson Lamet pitched 114.1 innings in 2017, but missed all of 2018 and parts of 2019 because of Tommy John surgery.

Some of the numbers on his Statcast profile seem unreal, both his curve and slider generated whiff rates over 48% in 2019. He also has a high-velocity arm, as shown by his average fourseam fastball of 95.9 mph. His fastballs are not producing great results, even with a quicker sinker at 96.3 mph on average, but the secondary pitchers show great potential.

Out of all starting pitchers in 2019 who produced more than 150 swing-and-misses, Lamet generated the 16th best mark—just decimal points in front of Stephen Strasburg, and slightly behind Patrick Corbin and Chris Sale. The sample size is small considering he only pitched 73 innings this past season, but the numbers continued promising results from a 10.94 K/9 rate in 2017 improving to 12.95 in 2019. With an offense having added three pieces to their lineup and bullpen help, having another pitcher to go with Paddack could be quite beneficial to an organization trying to end the Dodgers’ reign.

Griffin Canning

Many baseball fans might have wanted to see Mike Trout receive some help on the pitching side, but the Angels brought in Anthony Rendon instead. Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, and Tommy La Stella will surely help the lineup as a whole, while Julio Teheran and Dylan Dundy have been added into the rotation. Either one of these together with Andrew Heaney will be expected to make a difference as a stater, but Griffin Canning might have something to contribute as well.

Canning made his debut in 2019, suffering some right elbow inflammation towards the end of the season, but he did log 90.1 innings. His three most used pitches are a fourseam fastball, slider, and curve, each with an xBA of .230 or lower. The curve proved the most production, accounting for 16% of his total pitches delivered, it generated a .184 batting average and .327 slugging percentage, plus a whiff rate of 34%. With a slider producing a whiff rate of 45.2, Canning finished 20th on the list considering the previous criteria, this time slightly behind Stephen Strasburg, but in front of Charlie Morton and Clayton Kershaw.

Zac Gallen

Even though the Marlins are going through a rebuild, having seen Caleb Smith, Sandy Alcantara, and Zac Gallen in the same rotation wasn’t only entertaining, but also promising. Now Gallen has been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, looking to enter a rotation with Madison Bumgarner and multiple talented pitchers in Robbie Ray and Luke Weaver. The Diamondbacks will maintain a similar offense in 2020 but have added a workhorse starter looking to improve an 85-win team hopefully into a Wild Card contender.

Out of the recent breakout candidates mentioned, Gallen might not possess the best velocity, but his fastball is just a dominant as his secondary pitches. With three pitches to work with, he produced a 2.81 ERA over 80.0 innings. His fastball ranks 34th in average spin rate, placing him in the 71st percentile. Overall, though, his fourseam fastball produced reliever-like numbers, allowing a .192 batting average and .308 slugging percentage. The changeup produced a 40.7% whiff rate, a -4 degree launch angle, and a .157 batting average and .196 slugging percentage against.

Jordan Montgomery

It’s hard not to root for Montgomery in 2020, after watching Tommy John surgery take away some of his 2018 and almost all of his 2019. He forced himself into the 2017 rotation surprising the Yankees’ organization, going on to pitch 155.1 innings of 3.88 ERA ball.

The most important pitch in Montgomery’s arsenal early in his career has been his curveball, which he threw most frequently during his rookie season and was on pace to do so once again in 2018. Using your most productive pitch has become a part of the Yankees’ pitching philosophy for some time now. His curveball produced a .175 batting average, .281 slugging percentage, and 42.8% whiff rate in 2017, and continued to put hitters away the following season over six starts. Come 2020 the focus will be on Montgomery to reestablish his curveball, while his changeup and slider give him a three above average pitcher to counter the production of his fastballs.