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Jordan Montgomery looks poised for a career season

Even without getting many strikeouts, the left-hander is doing an excellent job of shutting down his opponents.

Los Angeles Angels v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Fresh off a dominating effort against the Los Angeles Angels — one of the best offenses in the American League, no less — left-hander Jordan Montgomery is making sure that the rest of the Yankees’ incredibly and surprisingly strong rotation doesn’t leave him behind.

Montgomery hurled seven strong innings against the Angels on Tuesday, allowing just four hits and a run, with a walk and four strikeouts. Of course, who knows what his pitching line would have looked like if Aaron Judge didn’t catch that ball to take a homer away from Shohei Ohtani, but Monty was good, poised, and composed on the mound.

Montgomery’s 2022 season is on track to potentially be a new plateau in his young career. Of course, it’s still very early, but the results so far have been awfully encouraging. His 3.04 ERA (124 ERA+), 1.01 WHIP, and 4.2-percent BB% are all in line to be career-bests. He strikes out 4.6 hitters for every walk, and all signs currently point out at his strikeouts going up soon.

Expanding on the latter point, Montgomery has 45 punchouts in 10 starts and 53.1 innings, a 19.2-percent strikeout rate. That mark is way lower than the 24.5 percent he had in 2021 and the 22.8 percent he’s averaged in his career. However, more strikeouts should arrive in short order, as his 13.2 swinging strike rate (SwStr%) is actually better than his career mark of 12.8, and his 29 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) is right in line with the 28.6 percent he’s averaged over his six-year MLB tenure.

Overall, Montgomery’s stuff is better than ever. He has about the same fastball velocity, 92.2 mph, he showed in 2021 (92.6 mph), but his pitch movement profile has been better and, as a result, he is tougher to hit.

As seen in the pitch movement chart below that most of his pitches have more break (and drop) in 2022. The “drop” section indicates vertical movement, while the “break” one describes horizontal movement.

Jordan Montgomery pitch movement chart

Year Pitch Inches of drop Inches of break
Year Pitch Inches of drop Inches of break
2022 Four-seamer 17.4 9.2
2021 Four-seamer 15.3 6.8
2022 Sinker 22.2 17.1
2021 Sinker 19.8 15.1
2022 Curveball 48.3 2.8
2021 Curveball 46.7 1.0
2022 Changeup 28.4 11.1
2021 Changeup 25.5 9.7
2022 Cutter 25.4 0.1
2021 Cutter 27.1 0.3

The improved movement profile has enabled Montgomery to increase the whiff rate on his sinker from 11.7 percent last year to 20.5 percent in 2022. It’s the pitch he uses the most — 33.9 percent of the time — so it definitely doesn’t hurt. His curveball’s whiff rate also jumped quite a bit, from 42.9 to 47.2 percent.

Montgomery has also induced more grounders than ever this campaign. His 46.2-percent groundball rate is the highest of his career, and a significant increase from the 42.7-percent mark he had last year.

Montgomery is a perfect middle-of-the-rotation arm: he doesn’t have ace-level stuff, but it’s good enough to miss major league bats consistently and is aided by impeccable control and great command. He won’t hurt himself with free passes and is giving up fewer hits in 2022 than in years past.

All things considered, the crafty left-hander seems poised to have a career-year. Groundballs, control, command, and whiffs are good things to show or have if you are a pitcher, and Monty checks all the marks. His prospects for the rest of the season are extremely encouraging, even if the strikeout total is not ideal yet.