After two losing the majority of two seasons to Tommy John surgery, Jordan Montgomery performed respectably in his return to the Yankees rotation in 2020. His overall ERA look ugly, but some of that can be attributed to the the small sample size that defined 2020. Tagged for four runs in less than an inning against Tampa, his stat line never bounced back. Facing that same Tampa team, Montgomery finished his season on a strong note, throwing four quality innings with the season on the line in Game Four of the ALDS.
2020 Statistics: 10 Starts, 44 IP, 5.11 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 9.61 K/9, 1.84 BB/9, 0.9 fWAR
2021 Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible, Free Agent in 2024, Two minor league options.
After throwing 155 innings and finishing sixth in American League Rookie-of-the-Year voting in 2017, Montgomery had thrown just 31.1 major league innings over the past two seasons combined. He was not a lock for the Yankees’ rotation heading into spring training this past season. As a player with minor league options and a short track record, he would have to earn his spot. Even when the Yankees opened the season, Montgomery was optioned to the alternate training site and not on the active roster until the third series of the season. This was more a function of the Yankees taking advantage of the off-days on their schedule to carry a different mix of pitchers early on than major about on Montgomery’s abilities.
There are some reasons to be optimistic about Montgomery’s underlying statistics from the 2020 season. He was in the 95th percentile of all major league pitchers for opponents’ exit velocity, as they averaged just 84.6 mph off the bat when facing Monty. Montgomery was also in the 88th percentile for hard hit rate at 29.9%, as he kept batters off balance with his mix of pitches. The stats show that opponents had trouble squaring up Monty’s stuff in 2020.
He also displayed improved control, with a 4.7% walk rate that placed him in the 92nd percentile of major league pitchers. In only one of his ten starts did Montgomery walk more than one batter. He appears to have ditched the slider that he had used around 13% of the time in 2017, which may have played into his strike-throwing capabilities.
Montgomery increased the use of his changeup and was comfortable throwing the pitch to both lefties and righties, as he used it over 25% of the time to great effect. Opponents produced just a 79.7 mph exit velocity off of the pitch this season, to along with a .386 SLG.
While the Yankees work to fill in the remaining rotation pieces around Gerrit Cole, most fans are comfortable penciling Montgomery into the four or five spot of the starting rotation. The Yankees will likely not feel the need to control his workload heading into 2021, as he will turn 28-years-old this offseason and will be approaching three years since his Tommy John surgery by the time the season begins.
Jordan Montgomery was a useful member of a Yankees rotation in 2020. He bounced back from two largely lost seasons to give the Yankees serviceable production from his spot in the rotation. His overall numbers will fall victim to the small sample size, but Montgomery gave the Yankees a chance to win for the most part when it was his turn to take the ball.