CHICAGO – The New York Yankees travelled to the South Side of Chicago to take on the White Sox Monday night, and came away with a 6-5 victory. Southpaw Jordan Montgomery dazzled in seven strong innings for the Bronx Bombers, as he allowed only one run and struck out nine batters.
Seemingly every start the young rookie has improved and lasted longer into games. But what has made Montgomery so successful this season? For starters, it is his vast pitch variety that keeps hitters off balance. Montgomery possesses a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball/cutter, a curveball, a slider and a changeup – making it very hard for hitters to know what is coming out of his hand at the time of the pitch. In Monday night’s game versus the White Sox, Montgomery made one mistake in the beginning of the game to power-hitter, Todd Frazier. The lefty threw a pitch right over the heart of the plate which Frazier took out of the ballpark for a solo home run. Following that blip, Montgomery struck out seven of eight batters on off-speed pitches that looked appealing but fell out of the strike zone, making him nearly impossible to hit all night.
Montgomery’s ability to better command the strike zone has been important in his recent success. In Montgomery’s first two months as a starting pitcher, he issued 19 walks combined, but he has walked only five batters in his last four starts. Ultimately, it seems as though Montgomery’s walk rate is declining while his strikeout rate is continuing to rise.
The fact that Montgomery’s fastest pitch reaches about 93 MPH while his slowest pitch tops out at about 75 MPH makes him very hard to gauge from the batter’s box. If he continues to keep hitters off balance with his bevy of different pitches, look for Montgomery to be an integral part of this Yankees’ rotation in less than a year.