New York Yankees: What’s Jordan Montgomery’s Ceiling?

With the New York Yankees needing a starter, Jordan Montgomery is gearing up for a big role, however what is his potential now?

Ryan Garcia
New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery
Apr 21, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) pitches against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Most people seem to have written off the New York Yankees 27-year-old lefty from South Carolina. Known as Gumby, he has been a forgotten member of that miracle 2017 team that came out of nowhere and captured the hearts of New York with a young exciting core. Leading the youth movement were guys like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, and Luis Severino.

They overshadowed Monty, who despite only having 155.1 innings pitched had a 2.6 fWAR, which put him on pace for around a 3.4 fWAR over 200 innings. His solid 3.88 ERA as a rookie put him at a nice start for his career. It seemed that things would go up for Monty, as he started 2018 with a 3.62 ERA through his first 27.1 innings. Then on a fateful night in Houston, Montgomery’s arm gave out on him, and he had to get Tommy John surgery. It seemed as if all was lost, however, we shouldn’t give up on him yet.

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Strong Spring Training Start

While Spring Training isn’t extremely important, however, it has its perks. A nice Spring Training builds confidence and momentum for a young player who wants a roster spot Opening Day. Success could lead to playing time, and Montgomery has started it with a bang. He has a 0.00 ERA in his first 2.0 innings with a 0.50 WHIP and 3 strikeouts so far, and while it’s a small sample size, it’s a nice starting point. I believe that he can continue to find success as he has before in the MLB, and should be healthy for the 2020 season. His secret weapon? It all lies on his dominant pitch.

Jordan Montgomery’s Money Pitch

The stuff that Montgomery has is pretty good, with a nice sinking fastball and solid changeup. These aren’t pitches that would blow hitters away, however, Montgomery does have a secret weapon. His curveball is flat out elite and in 2017 held batters to a batting average below the Mendoza line (.173). He also held them to a .281 SLG, which is mind-boggling. Those were both the 14th best marks in their respective categories. This could be attributed to his low spin rate with the curveball. A common misconception is that the only good spin is high spin when it’s actually best to have an abnormal spin. This means as far from average as possible, which is what Montgomery does. This type of spin means it will give Monty longevity as well as it doesn’t tax the arm as heavily as gripping and ripping pitches. A pitch like his curveball could make him a really nice starter, one who reminds me of another Yankee great.

Looking Like Pettitte

Andy Pettitte was 6’5 235 lbs. as a pitcher, only an inch shorter and 10 pounds heavier than Jordan Montgomery’s 6’6 225 lbs. frame. In Montgomery’s age 24 season he had a 3.88 ERA and 4.07 FIP, in Pettitte’s age 23-24 season he had a 3.87 ERA and 4.08 FIP. Both sat at around 89-91 MPH with their fastballs as well. While Pettitte throws a cutter, Monty throws a sinker, however, both use them similarly, pitching them to contact. I am not at all saying that Jordan Montgomery will go on and win 5 World Series titles, accumulate a 68.2 fWAR, win 256 wins in the regular season, and eclipse Pettitte’s MLB record 19 postseason wins. What I am saying is that theirs definitely a similarity between the two, and the Yankees may have another reliable lefty for the next 10 years who fights and wins just like Pettitte once did.