What This Pitcher’s Injury Means for the Yankees
By Derek McAdam
January 20, 2023
The New York Yankees’ first major injury of 2023 has come, and it does not appear to be great news for the Bronx Bombers. On Jan. 14, it was announced that Frankie Montas would likely miss the first month of the 2023 season with right should inflammation. Additionally, it was found that Montas was at least two months behind in his off-season training.
As every Yankee fan would probably agree, this is a big concern for the team. Montas was acquired at last year’s Trade Deadline in hopes of giving the Yankees a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, especially after trading away Jordan Montgomery to the Cardinals in exchange for Harrison Bader. By acquiring Montas, the Yankees gave up several prospects, including JP Sears, who has gotten his MLB career off to a nice start in Oakland.
The first big concern is the fact that the trade for Montas continues to look even worse for Brian Cashman. It seemed as if from the beginning, the Yankees overpaid for a pitcher who was coming off an injury and was only under team control through the 2023 season. Montas struggled in his first eight starts with the Yankees, going 1-3 with a 6.35 ERA in only 39.2 innings of work. Now, there is no guarantee that Montas will be able to get back to the pitcher he was in the first half of 2022, where he finished with a 3.18 ERA.
The second big concern is trying to figure out how long it will actually take for Montas to return to the big league mound. Is Montas missing the first month because he is finally able to begin his off-season training and the beginning of May is when he will be able to return, or is he still hurting and the team is estimating that it will take the entire month of April before he can get back on the mound? It seems hard to believe that Montas is currently fine and that he only has to get his training going.
Also, what if, in the end, Montas ends up needing surgery? Currently, there is not a need for surgery, but something could end up changing that over the next couple of months. If he is still hurt, it may continue worsening to the point where surgery is absolutely necessary. If that’s the case, Montas’ Yankee career will most likely be over.
Shoulder injuries are nothing to mess around with, especially for pitchers. To me, this does not seem like an injury that is only going to leave Montas sidelined for just one month. I would not be surprised if Yankee fans don’t see Montas on the mound until after the All-Star Break, and that’s what I expect to happen. This is simply not a broken bone that has to take its six weeks to heal, but this could be a sign of further injury.
So what do the Yankees do in Montas’ absence? Several weeks ago, I wrote about how I thought the Yankees were going to manage their starting rotation to begin the season. After Montas’ injury, it seems as if that answer is becoming more clear.
The Yankees currently have Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Luis Severino as healthy starters. Now, it seems as if Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt will fight it out for that fifth spot. German seems to be the likely candidate to replace Montas, since he has more Major League starting experience compared to Schmidt. Plus, it seems as if Schmidt has found his niche in the bullpen as an innings eater.
An unlikely scenario would be that the Yankees look to the list of free agents that still remain on the market. Michael Wacha and Dylan Bundy are just two names that the Yankees could look into, although the list continues with many other potential starters. As I said, this seems like an unlikely option, considering the team has German and Schmidt to go to, while the remaining names are not all “eye-openers.”
Hopefully, I am proven wrong and Montas comes back around the same time that the Yankees have him listed out for. And hopefully, when, and if, he comes back, he can be the pitcher that the Yankees were hoping they were getting from Oakland in the first half of 2022. And while he is out, hopefully German, or whoever the pitcher may be, can come in and provide valuable innings for the Yankees during that time.
But looking at this situation in a realistic way, this is not a good sign for Montas or the Yankees. Let’s just see how this plays out over the next few weeks.