If there’s a knight in shining armor on the way to reinforce the Yankees’ battle-weary rotation, chances are, his name will not be Jordan Montgomery.
The last time the Yankees saw the 26-year-old southpaw, he was leaving a 2018 start against the Houston Astros after only one inning due to elbow tightness. Initially diagnosed as a flexor strain that would sideline him for six to eight weeks, a torn UCL was discovered a month later after a bullpen session. The left-hander had season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 7.
Montgomery opened the year on the 60-day IL, continuing his rehab before shoulder discomfort cut short a bullpen session this week. While the MRI showed no structural damage—merely shoulder inflammation—his latest injury makes it even less likely that Montgomery will make it back this season.
Tommy John surgery recipients traditionally take 12 to 15 months to rehab, which would put his return time somewhere between two weeks ago and early September. This lines up perfectly with his original return date of mid-August, the one that has been floated since spring training. In recent years, however, teams have exercised more caution when handling pitchers returning from the surgery. Players now take closer to 18 months, as has been the case since 2013. This more recent timeline would put Montgomery’s return at around December — months after the season’s end.
A midseason return for the young left-hander was always considered a best-case scenario, one where nothing goes wrong in his rehab. With the recent shoulder inflammation, that is no longer the case. Even if, as the MRI indicated, there is no structural damage, the truth is, this is a longer setback than just two weeks. Not only does the inflammation need to heal, and not only does he lose those two weeks of rehab and strength training, he also loses two weeks’ worth of strength training in his arm. These push back his recovery by anywhere from two weeks to a month or so, putting his return date back to later in August or early September at the earliest.
That is not to say that Montgomery cannot contribute this season; he might rehab smoothly, slot either into the rotation or the bullpen, and provide the team a shot in the arm down the stretch. But this is best-case scenario. More likely, if Montgomery even takes the mound for the Yankees this year, it would be in a low-leverage situation in a meaningless game. Counting on anything more than this would not only be a foolish move from the front office, it would be downright amateurish.
A Prince Charming may be out there, a starting pitching acquisition that will slot into the Yankees’ rotation and shape a tight division race down the stretch. And while there are hopes that he could be a key piece of the rotation for the next few years, don’t go looking to crown Montgomery just yet.