The Yankees currently have a full rotation, but the team continues to look for more pitching. They have been connected to Yu Darvish, have had talks about Gerrit Cole and Chris Archer, and Michael Fulmer, and seem to like Alex Cobb. If the team is still looking to upgrade, doesn’t that mean Jordan Montgomery will be the odd man out?
Heading into the offseason, we knew the Yankees were going to need to add another pitcher or two to the rotation. Luis Severino, Sonny Grey, and Jordan Montgomery were all that was expected to return for 2018, but then Masahiro Tanaka didn’t opt out and CC Sabathia was re-signed. Instead of being content with that rotation, the Yankees are looking for more, and it’s Montgomery who will ultimately pay the price.
In 2017, he entered camp at 24 years old and surprised both the fans and the team by pitching well enough to make the major league rotation. Everyone was looking at Severino, but Montgomery proved to have staying power through the year, and he managed a 3.88 ERA with a 4.07 FIP in 155 innings as a rookie. Worth 2.7 WAR in 2017, he actually ranked sixth in Rookie of the Year voting. You would think this would guarantee him a spot in next year’s starting rotation, but don’t be too sure about that.
While Montgomery’s numbers were certainly fine for a rookie, and you can probably blame his second half slide on fatigue, there were a few problems that could ultimately lead to his undoing. As Kento Mizuno recently pointed out, his fastball is slow and ineffective, and his pitching style might not mesh with organizational philosophy. He also had a bit of a home run problem, which some numbers suggest could get worse, and he was noticeably knocked around by left-handed hitters.
By searching for another starting pitcher, the Yankees may be trying to get out in front of Montgomery’s possible sophomore slump as hitters catch up to him in 2018. You can obviously say that these five pitchers won’t be enough for the season and the organization will need reinforcements, and you wouldn’t be wrong. The thing is, though, if the Yankees do bring in another pitcher, who do you think he is replacing? CC might have questions surrounding him, but it’s Jordan Montgomery who they can send down.
This isn’t exactly me saying to dump Montgomery, but it is possible that we already witnessed his peak. The Yankees might be thinking that too for all we know. Remember that Shane Greene looked pretty good right up until he was traded. Montgomery is certainly better than Greene was, but they were both profiled to be solid backend starters and nothing more.
I’m hoping that Montgomery gets another chance in 2018 and proves to be a valuable piece of the rotation for the next few years, but he’s certainly not the player to get attached to. If the Yankees can get someone like Darvish, don’t be surprised if the team sends Montgomery out in order to fill a need in the infield. At this point, there is likely far more where he came from in Scranton.