Every word I'm about to type is going to make my insides light on fire. Jordan Montgomery has not only transformed himself into a postseason pitcher, he's reached a level where he's going into a hostile atmosphere like Houston and shoving his dick off. As I mentioned in my last blog, Yankees GM Brian Cashman traded away his young lefty for an injured outfielder in Harrison Bader because he did not believe Montgomery could be relied upon in October.
Monty threw 6.1 innings of shutout baseball in Houston last night. He had his way with the Astros lineup and hand delivered Texas a massive game one victory in the ALCS. The FOX guys had him on after the final out and there was a little bit of an "i told you so" in his words when talking about his stuff playing in October.
What a good feeling that's got to be. Monty is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and will be in line for quite the payday. A 1.88 ERA in 24 innings so far will only help his cause.
So what's changed for him?
Well for starters, it seems working with pitching guru Mike Maddux has it's perks. He happened to be there in St. Louis when Montgomery came over from the Yankees, but he was also waiting for him in Texas after the southpaw was dealt at the deadline this season.
Since his departure from New York, Montgomery started using his four seam fastball more. For whatever reason the Yankees did not think this was an effective pitch so you seldom saw him deploy it. Turns out his release point, and arm angle (thanks to his 6'6" frame) allow this 93 mph four seamer to play like it's 98-99.
Baseball Savant has a value system they put on pitches. Look how low his fastball was in 2021 with my stupid team.
And now in 2023
Can't tell you how frustrating that is to see. Usually the one area the Yankees thrive in is finding pitches that work for guys that weren't on other teams, see Clay Holmes' sinker.
Well it turns out not only is his fastball performing world's better now with the increase in trust, but so is his curveball. Now Jordan has always had a nice curve, but it seems the addition of the four seamer has turned this breaking ball into a monster.
It's now being called the Death Ball and last night it made Yordan Alvarez's experience miserable at the plate.
Passan goes into depth here as he breaks down the way Montgomery tunnels both pitches, making them impossible to decipher in real time. You never see Yordan look that bad at the plate, so clearly Monty is doing something right.
"When it comes out of his hand, it looks like a fastball," Álvarez said. "That makes it a little more difficult. The way he releases the ball, the angle he releases it, makes it a little bit more difficult to pick it up and makes it look like a fastball."
Montgomery's release point on the Death Ball is 80.2 inches from the ground, the second-highest vertical release on a curve in baseball (behind his opponent in Game 1, Justin Verlander). Montgomery releases his four-seamer 80.4 inches vertically and his sinker 80.9 inches -- and the horizontal release point on all three are within a half-inch of one another. The tunneling effect charms hitters into believing they're seeing one thing when it's something else, and it's what left Álvarez flailing, with five whiffs among the 17 pitches he saw.
Hard to believe the Yankees not only didn't see the advantage with this given their heavy analytical approach, but they told him to completely scrap the pitch altogether.
Not only does Montgomery have an elite playing fastball, but he's also got a "Death Ball." I want my pitchers having a death ball. The Yankees on the other hand have Brian Cashman and his army of nerds who have no idea what they're doing. They've made so many mistakes over the years, and the mishandling of Jordan Montgomery is just another notch on the ol' wall. Fire everyone.
P.S. Just the other day Nightengale mentioned a potential reunion between the Yankees and Montgomery come this offseason. I highly doubt this has legs since it would involve Cashman fully admitting he fucked up, something he's incapable of. If it doesn't involve blaming others for the team's failures he's not about it.
Kinda hope Montgomery just tells him to go fuck himself. Why would he ever come back here given the success he's found everywhere else. Just makes me sad, man.
P.P.S. Speaking of the Death Ball, remember the vaunted Daisuke Matsuzaka gyro ball? Shit had the baseball world buzzing as if we were about to see an intergalactic transformation take place the moment he released the ball towards home plate. In the end it was really just a changeup. Earned him a nice contract though, so props to him for using the hype machine.