Picking up where he left off after his scoreless three-inning start against the Phillies on the seventh, Jordan Montgomery steamrolled the Blue Jays batters for five more innings in a 1-0 win on Wednesday afternoon. The southpaw didn’t allow a hit and struck out four batters, issuing a single walk across 66 pitches in a scoreless outing, dropping his spring ERA to a minuscule 0.90.
Impressively, Montgomery’s sinker was clocked as fast as 94.5 mph, a significant jump above the 92.5 mph average speed of the same pitch in 2020, already the highest mark of any of his four big league seasons to date. It’s possible that there’s a hot gun at Dunedin’s TD Ballpark, but Monty’s steady success this spring suggests some legitimacy to his increase in velocity. Montgomery has continued his work in the gym since recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018, and might now be athletically peaking in his age-28 season.
Jordan Montgomery today. Sat 93-95. Up to 66 pitches with 42 strikes against a good Blue Jays lineup. It is definitely what you want. pic.twitter.com/jAu99GVNXH— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) March 17, 2021
Montgomery’s counterpart, 31-year-old Quad-A starter Thomas Hatch, entered the contest with an outside shot of making the Jays’ Opening Day roster. In 17 games last season, he posted 23 strikeouts in 26.1 innings with a 2.73 ERA.
However, following Hatch’s delivery of a fastball on an 0-2 count to Aaron Judge, he turned around and grimaced, immediately calling for the team’s trainer. Hopefully for his sake, it’s nothing too serious and Hatch can get back on track towards big league viability in the near future.
Worrying scene in Dunedin. Thomas Hatch threw this 93.8 mph fastball to Aaron Judge, yelped, and then called out #BlueJays trainer Voon Chong. He was rubbing his elbow and forearm before leaving the game. pic.twitter.com/HGYgS06Dzh— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) March 17, 2021
On the offensive end, the Yankees scratched their lone run in the fifth, as Judge opened up the inning with a walk and advanced on an error by Cavan Biggio. He crossed home plate on a Gleyber Torres dribbler that was scored a fielder’s choice. In total, the Bombers finished with five hits, all singles — the loudest of which were both struck by Judge, each clocking in at around 107 mph.
In the sixth, Jhoulys Chacín replaced Montgomery, going 2.2 innings strong and striking out three, working out of a tight spot in the seventh when he allowed two baserunners on a walk and a single. The surprise star of the Yankees spring, Lucas Luetge, replaced him in the eighth and allowed a hit to Otto Lopez, who was subsequently picked off by catcher Max McDowell to end the inning.
Luetge opened the game’s final frame by allowing another single, this time to Richard Ureña, but was again backed up by staunch defense as Judge’s replacement, Socrates Brito, hosed him attempting to stretch his base knock into a double. Luetge then returned to form to close out the game’s final frame, retiring the next two Jays on swinging K’s, good for his 12th and 13th strikeouts of the spring out of the 22 batters he’s faced. He has yet to allow a run in 6.1 innings of work.