Don’t get me wrong, Jordan Montgomery should not enter the season as our No. 2 starter. Yet I wouldn’t be surprised if he solidifies himself as a great No. 3 and a great arm in the 2021 rotation, and here’s why.
People forget how valuable Montgomery was in 2017. Only 24-years-old, he made 29 starts and surrendered a solid 3.88 ERA. In the first half of that year, his ERA was better, sitting in the mid three’s. Years away from his prime, his ERA and his efficiency were expected to improve. His progression was obviously affected by injuries, as he got Tommy John surgery the year after. Montgomery hasn’t been able to find that consistency he had in 2017 since returning, but things like that take time. He’s only had about a dozen starts since returning and his numbers should only continue to improve as he gets more work and continues to adjust since returning.
In 2020 he had a 5.11 ERA. On the outside, that may look like a mediocre number but ERA is an extremely volatile statistic, especially in small sample sizes. If you take away Montgomery’s two starts against the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies, he would have a 3.66 ERA. I think it’s safe to say that over a full traditional 162 game season, Montgomery’s ERA would’ve evened out and as a result would’ve been much lower. So don’t doubt him based on his 2020 ERA.
There were many good signs from Montgomery in 2020. For starters, he shined in the biggest start of his career. Pitching great in game 4 of the ALDS, an elimination game. He pitched great under pressure and he’ll definitely be under more in 2021. That’s only one game, however, so let’s dive into some 2020 statistics. In 2020, had the highest strikeout rate of his career (9.61 K/9). To pair with an elite 1.84 BB/9. Monty was also phenomenal at generating soft contact. He surrendered an average exit velocity of 84.6 mph, which ranks in the top 5 percent in all of baseball. Another great sign was his spike in fastball velocity. Montgomery is throwing harder now than he ever has in his career. This is encouraging to see as his fastball velocity was dropping in the past.
These are all great numbers and signs that create a better idea about his effectiveness. These stats could allude to a potential breakout season or at least a season of substantial improvement. 2021 will be a great year for Monty if he sustains these numbers while continuing to adjust from Tommy John surgery and continuing to improve on other areas of his game.
2021 is the most important season of Monty’s career. He has to prove whether he can be a solid middle of the rotation piece or if he’s more of a back end starter. He’ll have that opportunity and if Cashman doesn’t bring in another starting pitcher, it looks like he’ll have that opportunity as our #2. As a pitcher entering his prime with a lot to prove, I wouldn’t sleep on him.
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