Why Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery will be better than ever in 2020

When the New York Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract, every pitcher in the starting rotation was moved down a slot. Despite the reconfiguration of the unit, the Yankees still have stellar options and are prepared to have one of the more authoritative seasons we have seen in quite some time, and that’s after a 103-win campaign in 2019.

Cole, who had a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts last season, both career-highs, will be the No. 1 starter for the Bombers, with Luis Severino and James Paxton slotting in close behind. Both are viewed as top-level pitchers who can hold their own during the postseason.

Further down the line rests Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery, the latter is returning from Tommy John surgery, but still managed to get a few innings of work last season.

Montgomery believes he will return stronger and more fluid with his technique in 2020, stating:

“My mechanics were pretty rough that year before (the surgery),” Montgomery told MLB Network Radio on Saturday.” I was doing anything I could to get my arm through, really contort my body to get it through because that was kind of the spot where it didn’t hurt.

“Now I can just let my arm through and keep my posture and use my thighs a bit more now, which I’m excited about. Clean everything up the best I can and be simple and smooth is what I’m going for.”

The New York Yankees won’t just give Jordan Montgomery a starting spot:

Monty will still have to fend off J.A. Happ for the final spot in the rotation, given the former Blue Jay isn’t traded, considering his $17 million salary. Happ had a putrid 2019 campaign but was productive in 2018 when he was first traded to the Yankees, logging a 7-0 record with a 2.69 ERA.

To push Happ down in the rotation, Montgomery will need to have a strong spring training, and he’s confident that he will prove his worth on the mound:

“I’m a little ahead of schedule right now,” he said. “Coming off (Tommy John surgery), taking all of last year off and getting ramped up right near the end of the year I kind of decided to take less time off and really make sure I come into spring training strong. It kind of made sense to take less time off. Working as hard as I did, rehabbing, strengthening and getting all those little muscles fired up and strong again, and to take all that time and then lose it kind of seemed silly to me. So I took two weeks off, eased into throwing really easy for two or three weeks and got it going after that.”

Ensuring a full recovery is the priority for Montgomery, who will now have Eric Cressey at his disposal. The Yankees hired Cressey after the firing of former strength and conditioning coach, Matt Kraus, one season after setting an MLB record with 39 different stints on the injured list. The Bombers are now in good hands with their new conditioning coach.