Yankees’ Frankie Montas earns inspiring review from Aaron Judge

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Aug 23, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Frankie Montas (47) walks off the field after being relieved during the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a terrible performance against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday, Yankees‘ Frankie Montas bounced back with a stellar performance against the New York Mets on Tuesday evening.

Over 5.2 innings, Montas allowed just two earned runs and six hits, striking out six batters and producing nine ground balls.

Since joining the Yankees, Montas hosts a dismal 7.32 ERA, 6.41 strikeouts per nine, a 57.7% left on base rate and 47% ground ball rate. His numbers have deteriorated significantly, mainly because he’s changed his pitch sequence up with the Bombers. In fact, since joining the Yankees, he seen his split-finger usage drop from 29.2% to 19.3%. Montas is known for his splitter/sinker combination, which is why this shift is interesting.

He’s also seen a slight drop in slider usage, throwing his 4-seam fastball more frequently. Given the strange sequence change, the Yankees are likely considering reverting back to his normal repertoire when he featured with the Oakland Athletics.

The slight pitch modifications completely threw off his game, which didn’t need to be tweaked with at all after the acquisition. He posted a 3.18 ERA, 3.20 xFIP, and 9.37 strikeouts per 9 over 104.2 innings with Oakland this year. For whatever reason, pitching coach Matt Blake tried to improve his stuff even further, but they may have run into a brick wall in the process.

The Yankees saw the best version of Frankie Montas on Tuesday:

Luckily, he was able to find his groove against the Mets on Tuesday. Montas had begun using his sinker more frequently again, but have been mixing in his 4-seam fastball at a healthy rate. His 4-seam and split-finger have produced the best numbers since joining the Yankees , but according to Aaron Judge, he’s been backdooring a few cutters early in the count to steal strikes.

“Packed house in the Bronx. First Subway Series, man,” Aaron Judge said. “He went out there and did his thing. He was working on his pitches, kind of similar to (Domingo) German using that backdoor cutter-slider and getting some of those lefties early on to kind of steal a strike. Then he’s got that sinker-splitter combo. It’s pretty tough to tell the difference between both of those. He showed some bulldog out there, that’s for sure.”

Considering Jordan Montgomery is pitching lights out recently after being traded from the Yankees of the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s tough not to compare the two starters.

Acquiring Montas wasn’t a catalyst for sending Montgomery away, but rather injecting more efficiency into the centerfield position with Harrison Bader.

At the end of the day, Cashman might have made a mistake trading Monty, but they feel more confident that Montas can provide solid performances in the playoffs.

Given his longevity and healthy blend of pitches, he has what it takes to make a significant impact. The Yankees’ best player, Aaron Judge, provided a fantastic review of his new teammate, which hopefully will go a long way in brewing confidence.

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