When New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman traded Jordan Montgomery to the St. Louis Cardinals, everybody was surprised. Given the Yankees needed starting pitching support, moving on from Montgomery seemed like an odd decision, especially since the team gained an injured outfielder in the process.
Harrison Bader still hasn’t made a return from plantar fasciitis, an injury he’s been dealing with for quite a while now. He’s seemingly ramping up his game and preparing to start rehab assignments at the minor league level, but Montgomery has been solid for the Cardinals down the stretch, featuring arguably elite stuff.
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With the Bombers, Montgomery featured a 3.69 ERA, 7.61 strikeouts per nine, 75.9% left on-base rate and 46.4% ground ball rate over 114.2 innings. However, a massive strategy shift has led to lucrative results, specifically a 1.45 ERA, 7.89 strikeouts per nine, 85.5% left on-base rate, and 56% ground ball rate over 43.1 innings with St. Louis.
In addition, his HR/FB ratio has fallen from 13.8% to 3.2%. He’s giving up 0.21 home runs per nine with the Cardinals, a fantastic number the Yankees are probably scratching their head about.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cardinals have given Montgomery more freedom to use his fastball.
“I’ve got a good fastball,” Montgomery said. “They trust me here. The Yankees didn’t … didn’t want me throwing fastballs.”
The Yankees may have missed big with Jordan Montgomery:
Montgomery makes an interesting point, especially since his velocity is up from 92.6 mph to 93.1 mph with his fastball. Clearly, the Cardinals are allowing him to be more decisive with his pitches, whereas the Yankees were forcing him to adjust.
Specifically, Montgomery saw an increase from 4.8% with his 4-seam fastball to 31.4% in August, a tremendous difference. He’s been using his sinker and cutter less frequently over that timeframe. His 4-seam fastball is generating a .132 batting average against the 12.3% whiff rate and 18% put-away rate.
By the looks of it, the Cardinals may have unlocked Montgomery’s potential, allowing him to rely more on his fastball. Despite having a fantastic pitching coach in Matt Blake with the Yankees, it seems he might’ve missed a catalyst in Monty’s game.