When somebody mentions a Yankees rookie, Aaron Judge is the first player to come to mind and reasonably so. He is clobbering the ball and making a case for not only Rookie of the Year, but also AL MVP. There is another rookie on the Yankees who is having great success and hoping to keep it up. Jordan Montgomery was the Yankees fourth round pick in 2014. He is a left-handed pitcher, and like Judge he is built like a horse standing 6-6/225. Currently he has a 3.62 ERA and a 4.04 FIP. Despite the numbers, he is showing some great performances that we will dig deeper into.
He has a smooth, overhand delivery. His arsenal includes a four seam fastball, sinker, changeup, slider, and curveball. He uses all five of his pitches regularly with the change-up being his least pitched at 13%. Oddly, he is throwing his curveball the most at 24.2% which is what was projected to be the worst of his arsenal. In fact, his curveball spin rate is ranked 66 out of 94 among pitchers with at least 1000 pitches. However, his vertical release point is the highest of any pitcher due to his height and overhand delivery (see left). His vertical movement is the 8th lowest among qualified starters, and he doesn’t have much horizontal movement either. Hitters are batting .212 against his curve. He is finding success with a pitch that really has nothing special to it. He is not getting lucky either as his BABIP against is .361. Maybe the high release is deceiving to hitters and hard to pick up.
His 2-seam fastball is arguable his best pitch. He commands the pitch well and has a lot of horizontal movement. He has the 13th most horizontal movement on his 2-seam among qualified starters and the 3rd most vertical movement. Here is him pitching to George Springer: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/videos?video_id=1561860883
Here is his heat chart for the 2-seam fastball:
He locates it very well on the inside of the plate to left handed hitters. Though hitters are batting.350 against the pitch, he has only allowed one home run with the pitch. Considering he currently has an 11.4% HR/FB, this pitch is not the culprit. His 2-seam is an above average pitch that he can command well.
Montgomery is very effective in making hitters swing outside the strike zone. He is 3rd in the league in O-Swing% with a 37% rate, tied with Chris Sale. And although hitters are swinging at those pitches, they are not making much contact either. He has the 12th lowest contact for pitches outside the zone.
The Yankees have high hopes for Jordan Montgomery. He is putting together a solid rookie season, and as the season continues, he will settle into pitches that result in the most success. If the Yankees want to make a post season run, they will need Montgomery to continue to progress. He is on the right track, and the Yankees will need that to continue.