After recovering from Tommy John surgery, can lefty Jordan Montgomery contribute to the New York Yankees for the 2020 season?
When Yankee fans think back to the 2017 season, a name that doesn’t seem to come to mind very often as a key contributor is Jordan Montgomery. After sitting out most of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with Tommy John surgery (and a setback in June of last season), it’s easy to forget about Montgomery and how crucial he was to the Yankees in 2017, mainly because the Bombers just kept rolling along without him. But now, with Montgomery fully healthy, the Yanks anticipate big things from the towering lefty in 2020.
Montgomery’s 2017 Season
When looking back at Montgomery’s first and only full season in the bigs, his numbers are very, very solid. He pitched in 29 games (all of which were starts), 155.1 innings, struck out 144 batters and pitched to a 3.88 ERA. Of course, these numbers aren’t stellar, but when looking at an impact rookie from the 2017 season, Montgomery stands out, as these are numbers that could be built upon in later years.
The fact alone that Montgomery started 29 games should speak volumes alone to what the Yankees think about the lefty. 29 starts is a lot to make in a season in this day and age, and the fact that the Yankees were consistent in using him as frequently as they did show how highly they believe Montgomery can elevate his game.
What to Expect in 2020
Montgomery got off to a decent start in 2018, too. through six starts, Montgomery had a 3.62 ERA in 27.1 innings, striking out 23. Once he went down with Tommy John surgery, however, it took the young pitcher a while to return. He did come back in September of 2019, pitching to a 6.75 ERA in four innings.
However, Montgomery is healthy now and can fight for a spot in the Yankees’ rotation. As of now, the competition for the fifth starter spot boils down to J.A. Happ, Montgomery, and maybe Luis Cessa. With Domingo German suspended the first 63 games of 2020, this opens the door for someone to swoop in and claim the role of a back-end starter.
Although Cessa had a somewhat-competent season in 2019 and Happ is a proven veteran, I’d expect the fifth starter spot to go to Montgomery out of Spring training. Happ varied from competent to downright-bad in 2019 and there are even some rumors he might get dealt before pitchers and catchers report, so that loosens up the competition even more.
At the end of the day, Montgomery has the stuff to make an impact at the big-league level. The only question is whether or not he’s able to shake off the rust from his time off in 2018 and 2019. If he can do that, expect Montgomery to contribute a strong amount this season.