New York Yankees: JA Happ is on a short leash as 5th starter with Jordan Montgomery rising

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery
Mar 22, 2018; Fort Myers, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) throws a pitch during the first inning of a Spring Training baseball game against the Minnesota Twins at CenturyLink Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries continue to be the downfall of most professional athletes, and serious ones plagued the New York Yankees during the 2019 season. With starting third baseman Miguel Andujar suffering a torn Labrum and pitcher Jordan Montgomery recovering from Tommy John surgery, the pair missed out on essential experience in a 103-win season.

The Yankees’ record proves to manager Aaron Boone that they’re capable of succeeding without several starters, which is ultimately bad news for injured players. Andujar will start the 2020 campaign in a reserve role. Boone has already made it apparent that Miggy will have to earn his spot on the team, as he will test his abilities in left field and at first base during spring training.

Montgomery, on the other hand, lost out on the 5th spot in the starting pitching rotation, subsequently failing to overcome J.A. Happ, who had a tumultuous second half of 2019. Having posted a 4.91 ERA last season, it’s surprising that Boone was unwilling to open up a competitive narrative between Happ and Monty, mainly because the latter pitched two sub-4.00 ERA seasons to start his young career. However, we can understand Jordan’s injury will take more time to come back from, despite featuring for a few at-bats last season.

How will the New York Yankees utilize their young arm?

Montgomery’s top three pitchers rank as following (2018):

  1. Fastball (40.8%, 90.3 mph average)
  2. Curveball (27.8%, 80 mph average)
  3. Changeup (22.1%, 83 mph average)

The lack of fastball speed doesn’t fit the Yankees’ mold necessarily, but they undoubtedly view him as a starting-caliber player, especially with the variety of pitches he holds. The blend of curve and changeup pitches makes him incredibly hard to hit off of, which attests to his quality two seasons in the MLB (2017-18).

I anticipate him making a comeback in a bullpen role, as a precautionary measure to slowly incorporate him back into the rotation. Don’t think that Happ is firmly planted as the 5th starter because Monty has plenty of talent to work with. If Happ’s struggles continue, Boone won’t hesitate to change things up at the back-end of the rotation.

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