After a long recovery from Tommy John surgery, Jordan Montgomery is slated to return to the Yankees today in the series finale against the Blue Jays. His return marks a victory both for himself, and for the team. The last time we saw Montgomery was on May 1st, 2018 against the Houston Astros. Montgomery felt tightness in his elbow that day that would eventually lead him under the knife.
His return comes at a good time. This week, the Bombers will receive an enormous influx of pitching, with Luis Severino and Dellin Betances joining Montgomery. Since two weeks remain in September, all three hurlers will have a chance to show what they have down the stretch.
It feels like ages ago, but Montgomery had started that 2018 season on a solid note, with a 2-0 record and a 3.62 ERA in six starts. He was just as strong in 2017, running a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts as a rookie. The potential is clearly there, but now we get to see what Montgomery is capable of in the lead-up to the playoffs. The 26-year-old missed out on the postseason in both 2017 and 2018, so expect him to bring some fire when he takes the field on Sunday. Manager Aaron Boone indicated he could have the chance to pitch his way to the postseason roster, stating “I wouldn’t rule out the fact if he comes out and pitches really well and efficiently he could push himself into that conversation.”
In his rookie season, he already showed the durability to become a back-end of the rotation arm. He managed 155.1 innings, striking out 144 and walking 51. Reports have indicated that his fastball velocity is right around where it was before injury, as he seems to be sitting around 91 or 92 mph. That bodes well, as the stuff that allowed Montgomery to succeed in 2017 and 2018 should still be around now.
Though starter J.A Happ has looked good over his last few starts, he’s still been a shell of what he was last season overall. He owns a 5.07 ERA on the year, and a strong return from Montgomery would give the Yankees more flexibility when it comes to some of their struggling veteran starters.
That said, it’s difficult to envision exactly what role Montgomery would play if he did find his way onto the playoff roster. The team already appears to have paired another lefty in CC Sabathia with Domingo German in an interesting tandem. Perhaps Montgomery could work multiple innings in a tight spot, or face a few left-handed hitters.
Regardless, that Montgomery has made it this far is a win, and that he sounds like he hasn’t lost his stuff could be a boon. If he pitches his way into the playoffs, great, and if not, the Yankees have another interesting arm to take to camp in 2020. No matter what, we we can assume that after missing 16 months, Montgomery is going to come out determined to prove he belongs.