The Yankees brought in two notable arms this offseason in order to bolster the starting rotation in Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon. While the two of them seem to slot in as the second and third starters in the depth chart, Jordan Montgomery is a solid name as the team’s No. 4, and will look to build upon a middling 2020 campaign.
2020 Stats: 44 IP, 5.11 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 9.61 K/9, 1.84 BB/9, 1.43 HR/9, 0.9 fWAR
2021 ZiPS Projections: 93.3 IP, 4.15 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 8.68 K/9, 2.99 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9, 1.7 fWAR
In Montgomery’s first “full” season back since missing the majority of 2018 and 2019 with Tommy John surgery, Monty put together a decent year, considering his expectations. He was tasked with being a solid back-end starter who could hold his own, and he met that goal. The 5.11 ERA is pretty alarming, but an above-average 3.87 FIP makes it less daunting. The 44 innings is a small sample size, especially for a pitcher coming off a major elbow surgery, but there is some optimism for him heading into this season.
Montgomery pitched the biggest game of his life with his team’s back against the wall, down two games to one to the Rays in the American League Division Series. The 27-year-old clutched up for New York by tossing four innings of one-run ball and allowing just three hits as he propelled the team to a decisive Game 5.
As the 2021 season approaches, we’ve seen some impressive pitching from Monty in spring training. Through his five frames in Florida, he has three strikeouts, four hits, and one run allowed. The southpaw will be an important part of this team, especially if Kluber and Taillon run into injury issues as they have in recent years. If that is the unfortunate case, there is certainly a chance that Monty throws the second-most amount of innings on the team behind Gerrit Cole in 2021.
Jordan Montgomery has also been getting some high praise from some former Yankee lefty starters. Both Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia have talked to Monty about his fastball.
Jordan Montgomery said that he has been getting texts from Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia. Pettitte's message? "Your fastball is better than mine, so you've just got to throw it in there for strikes."— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 2, 2021
That’s some high praise about his heater. Montgomery’s fastball velocity has never been among the best in the league, as the highest he’s ever been ranked was this past season in the 40th percentile. In fact, he only threw the pitch 19 percent of the time in 2020, and that could have been because he only threw it in the strike zone 52.8 percent of the time. It will be intriguing to see if Monty will incorporate his fastball more often this season.
According to Montgomery’s 2020 MLB percentile rankings, his biggest weaknesses were his fastball velocity, fastball spin, and curveball spin. However, not many hitters were able to get good wood on balls in play, as he was among the best in exit velocity and hard-hit percentage, but also succeeded in throwing strikes with his low walk rate.
Jordan Montgomery will need to develop his secondary pitches more this season, as the Yankees will be counting on him to be a consistent piece to the rotation. If he’s able to do so, he could be one of the more reliable pitchers on this team.