To Keep or Not to Keep: Jordan Montgomery
Over the next month as we begin to approach the 2021 Trade Deadline season, Ethan will be taking you through most of the Yankees MLB talent (including those on the IL) and his give opinions on what he would do if he ran the team and on what the Yankees will likely do.
Today we’ll be discussing Jordan Montgomery.
MLB Postseason/Division/WS Odds for the New York Yankees (2021): Preseason: Fangraphs – 91.3%/71.0%/17.5% BBRef – 84.0%/63.1%/11.8% 538 – 83%/60%/14% On June 14th: Fangraphs – 44.5%/14.4%/5.7% BBRef – 19.3%/0.9%/0.8% 538 – 37%/8%/3%#Yankees #StartSpreadingtheNews — Start Spreading The News (@NYY_Report) June 14, 2021
Understanding This Series:
At the beginning of this series, the Yankees currently sit with a 33-32 record, are 4th in the AL East (8.5 GB of the Rays), and are 6th in the AL Wild Card race (4 GB of the Astros). If they want to win 93 games this season (what they’d likely need for a wild card spot) they’ll have to play .618 baseball, a winning percentage of which just 2 teams (Rays and White Sox) are currently playing at. In this series we’re not believing that the Yankees, under their current roster construction and self-inflicted restrictions, have a shot at the playoffs. Thus, we’re looking at the 2021 Trade Deadline as a place to sell and to look towards 2022 and the future for this team.
Jordan Montgomery Background:
Breaking into the MLB in 2017, even though Jordan Montgomery was severely overshined in his rookie year by Aaron Judge he cemented himself as a piece of the Yankees starting rotation going forward with his 3.88 ERA (116 ERA+) over 155.1 innings in 29 starts. Now, if only things were that easy.
After 6 starts in early 2018 (to a 3.62 ERA), Montgomery was shut down with a left elbow strain and placed on the then 10-Day DL. He would stay on the 10-Day DL for 103 days before being moved to the 60-Day DL. Early on, the hope was that with rest they’d be able to avoid Tommy John Surgery…this didn’t happen. After getting successful TJS in early June 2018 it was clear Montgomery would miss the rest of 2018 and most of 2019. Montgomery would ultimately return in September 2019 to pitch 4 innings over a start and a relief appearance.
In the parts of two seasons (2020 and 2021) since returning, Montgomery hasn’t been the same above-average starting pitcher as he was before. During this time he has pitched to a combined: 5-4 Record (.556 WP; 23 Starts), 114.2 Innings, 4.55 ERA (92 ERA+; 3.69 FIP), 1.230 WHIP, 116 Strikeouts (9.1 K/9), and 28 Walks (2.2 BB/9). He’s showing that he’s been a below-average starting pitcher who has some really great games, and to be fair his 2021 ERA+ is currently sitting at 98. The more years removed from TJS the better version of Montgomery we may see.
On the contract side of things, Jordan Montgomery has already gone through his rookie contract and in 2021 is in his first year of arbitration- largely because he was accumulating service time while on the MLB DL/IL for nearly 2 seasons. With 2.5 years remaining before he could become a free agent, and as a lefty starting pitcher who was healthy in 2020 and is continuing to move past his TJS, Montgomery is an interesting pitcher to talk about.
What I’d Do and What the Yankees Will Do:
While I’m going to imagine that the playoffs in 2021 are out of reach for the Yankees, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to suggest they trade away any and every piece that may have some trade value. My thoughts are to do a rebuild on the fly- a la 2016- to reinvigorate the farm and clear some payroll space for free agency/the future.
Jordan Montgomery would not be a player I would trade away.
As a close-to league-average pitcher, his value isn’t incredibly grand to the point that the Yankees would be able to get a solid top prospect back for him. Instead, it would likely be a mix of lesser prospects with promise, thus it wouldn’t entice me- nor should it for the Yankees- to trade away a player who could be a solid back-end rotation guy. (Especially if he continues to improve back to what he showed his rookie year+.)
I think that it also serves the Yankees best interest to keep a left-handed pitcher in the rotation, especially when one can be had for the next couple years on a lower contract. While it won’t change things completely, having a rotation with 4 RHP’s and a LHP is much different than a rotation with 5 RHP’s for an opposing team to have to approach in any given series.
I’m a fan of keeping Montgomery for the foreseeable future. He needs the reps in the rotation to (hopefully) get back to where he used to be, much like how I would hope that if the Yankees sell they bring in their prospect arms to get reps as well.