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Yankees 2022 Season Preview: Jordan Montgomery

The left-hander will try to repeat his success from 2021 as he enters his sixth season in the Bronx.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jordan Montgomery has come into his own with the Yankees since emerging as a down-ballot Rookie of the Year candidate in 2017. He’s fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery that sidetracked his subsequent couple seasons, and now after a strong 2021 and entering his sixth year in pinstripes, the southpaw is projected to have another respectable campaign.

Montgomery was relied upon to be the No. 2 behind Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, and held his own. In 2021, he was second among the team’s starters in total innings pitched, strikeouts per nine, and fWAR. Here are his numbers from last year, along with his ZiPS projections for the upcoming 2022 season:

2021 Stats: 157.1 IP, 3.83 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 1.28 WHIP, 9.27 K/9, 24.5% K%, 2.92 BB/9, 7.7% BB%, 1.09 HR/9, 3.3 fWAR

2022 ZiPS Projections: 140.1 IP, 3.85 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 9.49 K/9, 2.50 BB/9, 1.28 HR/9, 2.8 fWAR

Comparing the numbers from last season to this year’s projections, they’re pretty similar, with a slight regression for the lefty. He’s expected to see a bit of an uptick in strikeouts, but apparently we will be seeing more of the same Jordan Montgomery that we saw last year—and that’s not a bad thing.

It’s a big season for the 29-year-old. He’ll be entering his second-to-last year before he hits free agency, so he has something to prove. Indeed, Montgomery came back from Tommy John in 2020, but the shortened season meant that he only tossed 44 innings. So we didn’t really get a big enough sample as to how he could perform after such a major procedure to his throwing arm. His 2021 was a testament to his sheer guile.

As previously noted, Montgomery was second among Yankees starters in innings pitched, K/9, and fWAR. In a rotation that is shaky at times and filled with some risk, he needed to step up behind Cole, and he did just that. Monty become all that more important when Corey Kluber went down with an injury that kept him sidelined for months.

But that is all in the past now. Looking ahead to the present and the future, ZiPS has Montgomery continuing to be that solid second starter behind Cole, which the Yankees desperately need if they don’t plan on adding to the starting five. Luis Severino hasn’t been a regular starter since the end of 2018. Nestor Cortes Jr. and Jameson Taillon are decent options behind him, but will Cortes be able to repeat his surprising success and carry it into 2022? Will Jameson Taillon be able to stay healthy enough and make an impact? These are valid questions, especially since Taillon is coming back from ankle surgery and wouldn’t be on track to make the Opening Day roster if the start of the season hadn’t been delayed by the lockout.

Montgomery is an off-speed/junk pitcher, throwing mainly his changeup, curveball, and sinker. He has a fastball and cutter as well, but doesn’t throw them nearly as much as the other three. With spring training now underway and teams practicing again, Montgomery has been getting to face some of his teammates at the plate. Here’s a video of him getting Anthony Rizzo to strike out swinging on a beautiful looking curveball. That’s what they call lefty-on-lefty crime!

There’s a lot of weight on Jordan Montgomery’s shoulders entering this season. The AL East is once again stacked with talent and the Yanks need him to be the steady pitcher behind Cole. If his ZiPS projections speak to the type of season he’ll have, I’m sure many fans would sign off on that.