Yankees Player Profile: Jordan Montgomery, an opportunity to shine

William Parlee
Mar 5, 2020; Lakeland, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery (47) walks back to the dugout after being removed from the game in the fourth inning against the New York Yankees at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Montgomery is another Yankee player that has kept much of his private life private. The 26-year-old was born in Sumter, South Carolina. Monty is tall, 6’6′, and weighs 225 pounds. He played baseball as a boy. When in Sumter High School, he played baseball and in his senior year, was named the state’s player of the year. After high school, he enrolled in the University of South Carolina. He played for the South Carolina Gamecocks, where he again received awards, this time Freshman of the week and Freshman All-American. He played well enough in college to warrant the attention of major league baseball scouts.

In the 2014 major league baseball draft, Montgomery was selected in the fourth round by the New York Yankees. After his college year, the Yankees limited his pitching to 19 innings as he went 1-1 with an ERA of 3.79. In 2015 Jordan was promoted to the Charleston River Dogs, but shortly thereafter, he was promoted again to the Florida State League for the advanced A Tampa Yankees. Montgomery’s pitching continued to impress the Yankees, and in 2016 he began the season with the Trenton Thunder but was soon promoted to the AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. While there, he pitched the triple-A National Championship game in which he won for the Rail Riders.

On April 12, 2017, Monty was promoted to the major leagues, where he made his Yankee debut against the Tampa Bay Rays in a no-decision outing. His second game, he earned his first major league win against the Chicago White Sox. On June 9, he pitched a career-high seven innings while striking out eight against the Orioles. Prior to the All-Star Break, Montgomery pitched to a 3.65 ERA, striking out 87 batters in 91 1/3 innings. On July 25, he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Reds. In 29 starts in 2017, Montgomery finished with a 9-7 record and a 3.88 ERA.

After six starts when he was 2-0 with an ERA of 3.86. On May 1, he left a game against the Astros with elbow tightness. He was put on the IL, and it was discovered that he had a flexor strain and that he would be out 6-8 weeks. But in June, other problems arose, and he was scheduled to have Tommy John surgery, which typically takes a year to a year and a half to recover from. In 2019 he started the season on the 60 day IL and had been recovering from the surgery.  As the year progressed, his recovery accelerated with him pitching in rehab games. Boone has let it go slow with him, so he could gain full pitching strength, as well as extending him in innings.

When Montgomery was finally ready to pitch in real games in 2019, it was already September; he made his first start against the Blue Jays on September 15.  He threw 41 pitches in two innings and gave up three runs in the Yankee loss.  His only other game was on the 24th, he also threw 41 pitches in that game, which the Yankees also lost, but Monty did not give up any runs to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Montgomery has an enormous opportunity this year and an almost assured place in the starting rotation due to the back surgery on James Paxton, who will not return until May at the earliest, and the season-ending  Tommy John surgery to ace Luis Severino.  Previous to yesterday’s game against the Tigers (March 5), he had already appeared in two spring training games in which he pitched a total of four innings while not giving up any runs.  In yesterday’s Tiger game, he was shelled for four home runs in three innings of work in the Yankees 15-11 loss.  When manager Aaron Boone was asked if he was worried, he responded:

“Yeah, I think he … what he’s shown us, where he’s at physically, how he’s throwing the ball coupled with his track record already,’’ Aaron Boone said when asked if Montgomery was a lock for a rotation spot. “This is a guy that’s already had a really strong big-league season under his belt. So I’m excited about where he is and feel like he’s very much solidifying himself.’’

The game in Lakeland, Florida, at Joker Marchand Stadium, was a home run derby as the wind was blowing quite strongly (15-20mph) to center.  There was a total of eleven home runs in the game, nine of them by the Tigers.  After the match Monty was asked if he thought the wind had an effect:

“Two of them were good pitches. Obviously, you have to pitch to the wind, and I am not very happy about it,’’ Montgomery said.  “I have been trying to get my work done,’’ Montgomery said. “I believe when I get locked in my stuff will play.’’

Montgomery will embrace this chance, and try to make a name for himself this season while pitching with ace Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and others in the hopes of another World Championship.  There are no scandals attached to his personal life.  He is not married but is romantically involved with a young woman that he has been going with for over a year.  Keeping with his private nature, her name is unknown.  He has several photos of them together on his twitter account during the past year but was always careful not to include her name.  He, to date, spends his offseasons in South Carolina.  It is known that they both love long walks on the beach with his dog.

Montgomery has two nicknames, “Gumby” that he got in college and “Monty” used by many of his fellow players. He has two older Brothers. He has received many awards in his short career: Other than the awards mentioned earlier, he has received the Pitcher of the Week twice, once for the Dogs and once for Trenton, Baseball America double-A All-Star, and Postseason All-Star while at Trenton among others.  This year Monty has a golden opportunity to shine and make a major league career for himself.