In a season of wild twists and turns for the Yankees, Jordan Montgomery has quietly been one of the few constants.
The left-hander doesn’t come with much flash, but has provided plenty of substance, and will look to do more of the same on Sunday night when he starts the finale of a critical series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“He’s just continued to establish himself as a really good pitcher in this league,” manager Aaron Boone said Saturday before the Yankees’ 5-3 comeback win. “He’s physically more mature, he’s mentally and emotionally more mature. He’s benefitted from the experience that he’s gained.”
Montgomery has allowed three runs or fewer in 23 of his 28 starts this season, carrying a 3.55 ERA into Sunday’s series finale. Aside from a two-week absence in August after testing positive for COVID-19, the 28-year-old has made his start every turn through the rotation while becoming a consistent presence on the mound.
For a rotation that faced plenty of questions behind Gerrit Cole entering the season, Montgomery has delivered a strong answer.
“I’m starting to get really comfortable just being out there,” Montgomery said after his last start, a 7-1 win over the Rangers on Sept. 21. “Starting to really feel some things in my mechanics that I can repeat. Just trying to stay right where I’m at.”
After having a rare clunker against the Mets on Sept. 10, when he gave up seven runs (five earned) over 3 ¹/₃ innings, Montgomery responded by giving up just two runs over 11 ¹/₃ innings with 18 strikeouts against the Orioles and Rangers.
Sunday will offer more of a challenge against a better offense than his past two opponents, but Montgomery has been steady against the Red Sox this season — posting a 3.63 ERA (nine runs in 22 ¹/₃ innings) across four starts.
Third on the Yankees with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement (per Baseball Reference) — trailing only Gerrit Cole (5.8) and Aaron Judge (5.2) — Montgomery has a shot at setting a career-high in innings Sunday. He threw 155 ¹/₃ innings as a rookie in 2017, but after pitching a combined 75 ¹/₃ innings over the next three seasons, has piled up 149 ²/₃ innings so far this season in another sign of his dependability.
“I think he understands himself and his repertoire,” Boone said. “I think he does a really good job of identifying what’s working really well for him on a given day because he does have weapons. He’s got a fastball, cutter, sinker and then a really good curveball [and] changeup. He does a really good job of navigating those first couple innings and determining what he has working for him that day. He’s had a really good year for us.”
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