As Spring Training games officially begin today, lets lake a look at left-handed starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery. Just one season ago, the former South Carolina Gamecock entered camp as a real long-shot to earn a 25-man roster spot. Fast forward to today and he is now the favorite to land the fifth starter’s rotation spot after a strong rookie campaign that saw him pitch to a 9-7 record and 3.88 ERA over 33 starts.
Referring to the problem with his changeup last season, Montgomery recently said, “My changeup was gone. I really kind of got through the year with two pitches. If I hadn’t had my curveball and throwing it for strikes and expanding (the strike zone) with it, who knows what would have happened? It’s good knowing that I got through it without my best pitch, which is my changeup… I just have to get my arm up and throw through it, which is easier said than done, but I feel like I’ve got a little more feel for it this year, I’ve got a cooler head. I know my mechanics and know what I’ve got to do.”
Major league averages for changeups last season were 49.3% grounders and 30.9% swing-and-misses. Jordan’s change was below-average when stacked against those numbers. The data obtained also showed a drastic drop-off at the end of the season – which is the reason why fellow lefty Jaime Garcia was acquired from the Minnesota Twins and the trade deadline last July.
The 25-year old Montgomery went on to tell NY Posts’ Dan Martin, “I kind of panicked last year a little bit, which is not usual for me, I didn’t make many adjustments. My fastball was inconsistent.”
When ‘Monty’ regains his fastball and changeup, he will be much more effective, especially against right-handed opponents. Left-handed batters slashed .195/.271/.391 while righties hit at a .241/.301/.386 clip.
The analytics show that he stopped throwing the changeup as much towards the end of 2017, but here are his percentages by pitch for last season:
- Fastball – 42%
- Changeup – 19%
- Slider – 13%
- Curveball – 26%
The 6’6” southpaw has a great attitude heading into camp; he told NJ.com’s Randy Miller, “I’m going to try to be as prepared as I can and work on things that I didn’t do last year…I always try to work as hard as I can. Nothing’s guaranteed, so I feel like when you slack off and feel like you’ve got it made, that’s when the carpet is going to get pulled up from underneath you. I’m going to keep treating every day like I did last year and try to be the best as I can.”
When asked about his competition or general manager Brian Cashman adding another starter to the mix, the South Carolina native responded by saying, “I can’t control any of that, so I’m not going to let it take any of my happiness or joy away. I’m going to do my thing and carry myself the right way and work as hard as I can, and whatever happens, happens.”
Despite ‘Monty’s’ efforts and overall positive rookie campaign, Cashman has openly explored rotation help this off-season. The Yankees have recently been linked to Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Chris Archer and were connected to Yu Darvish, Gerrit Cole, and Jake Odorizzi before they were either traded or signed.
Inside the organization, New York has two stud prospects in the form of Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield ready to compete for a 25-man spot. To add another internal name to the mix, the super-effective Chad Green is being stretched out to battle for a rotation spot this spring.
To sum it up I’ll leave it to Jordan, “It’s good to look back on and see how inconsistent I was with all that stuff and still getting outs. We’ll see what I can do this year.”