Just as Yankees starter Frankie Montas left off in 2022, he’s picked up right back up in the injury department. Being shut down prematurely due to shoulder inflammation, Montas is still dealing with an injury that expects to sideline him for at least the first month of the regular season.
Frankie had an up-and-down 2022 campaign, enjoying phenomenal numbers with the Oakland Athletics, specifically hosting a 3.18 ERA, 3.20 xFIP, 9.37 strikeouts per nine, and a 73.6% left on base right across 104.2 innings. The very moment he joined the Yankees, his numbers took a catastrophic dip. He finished with a 6.35 ERA and 7.49 strikeouts per nine across 39.2 innings, but most of his issues were attributed to the injury.
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The Yankees need to get Frankie Montas healthy:
The expectation was that the 29-year-old, heading into a contract year, would be healthy to start the campaign, but the Yankees are already having to supplement his loss on the back end of the rotation.
The rotation is already facing problems, and considering several starters will have to mitigate fatigue down the stretch and limit their innings is already cause for concern. The only pitcher that has proven longevity is Gerrit Cole, but Carlos Rodon pitched a career-high 178 innings last season, the first time since 2016 that he broke the 140-inning mark. Luis Severino pitched over 100 innings for the first time since 2018 last year, meaning he could break the 150-inning threshold, but there is a concern considering he went through a stretch of shoulder inflammation as well. Nestor Cortés pitched a career-high 158.1 in 2022, making the All-Star team, but ran out of gas at the end of the season, meaning workload mitigation will have to be prioritized to ensure he’s 100% for the playoffs.
With Montas going down, the Yankees have two alternatives they can look toward, Clarke Schmidt and Domingo Germán. Schmidt, 26, earned a 3.12 ERA last season across 57.2 innings. He recorded 8.74 strikeouts per nine, 0.78 home runs per nine, with a 75% left-on base rate and 42.1% ground ball rate. He projects to have a big 2023, having shown improvements over the last three seasons. German, on the other hand, is a good supplementary piece but only has value as a back-end starter. At 30 years old, German pitched 72.1 innings last year, recording a 3.61 ERA and 7.22 strikeouts per nine.
Given Schmidt has good stamina and the capacity to feature out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation, he may be the preferable option to supplement the loss of Montas. However, management may want to limit his innings and utilize German has their reserve option, which is a good problem to have.
However, shoulder injuries can be a fickle beast, and the Yankees need to be extremely careful with how they manage the injury to Montas. Giving him ample time to recover is necessary, especially since he is already set to miss the first month of the season.