The Cardinals have signed a deal with the New York Yankees to acquire left-handed starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery. The deal sent Harrison Bader back to the Yankees.
Here are five facts about the new starting pitcher for the Cards:
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Yankees, the South Carolina alum has played his entire six-year MLB career with the club.
In those six years, the 29-year old lefty has built a career record of 22-20 with a 3.94 ERA in 502 innings pitched over 97 starts. This season, the lefthander threw to a 3-3 record in 21 starts with 97 strikeouts. He has pitched eleven times in the sixth inning or deeper this season.
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Tall and lanky
At 6-foot-6, Montgomery is high on the mound, earning him the nickname “Gumby” while pitching in college. When he was a freshman, a senior noticed his long limbs and apparent lack of coordination and nicknamed him referring to the green Claymation character of the 1950s.
Initially, the southpaw indicated that he wasn’t fond of the nickname, but has admitted that it has grown on him over time.
With the Cardinals, however, that high frame is hardly noticeable. Not only will he not be the tallest player on the team, but he won’t be the tallest pitcher either. Adam Wainwright continues to hold that honor, with a towering 6-foot-7.
Montgomery is as traditional a pitcher as they come, generating ground balls 47.1% of the time. Like many pitchers who profile themselves as ground ball specialists, he uses a sinker to create downward action and force hitters to get on top of the balls. When throwing that sinker, batters hit only .228, compared to .357 when he throws his traditional four-seam fastball.
That said, don’t expect that sinker to get a lot of hitters. That sinker’s sniff rate is just 19%, the lowest of any of his primary pitches and the 70th lowest of any pitcher using the field.
Drop the slide, pick up the cutter
Beginning in the 2020 season, Montgomery chose to stop using his slider and instead switch to a cut fastballalso known as a cutter. The pitches do similar things: both sweep away from the thrower’s arm, but the cutter tends to come in with a higher speed and sharper, albeit less, motion.
Since that change, Montgomery has lowered his ERA year over year and increased his strikeout totals. In 2019, the year before he took up the new field, he owned a 6.75 ERA. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, he cut it to 5.11 before seeing the biggest drop in the 2021 season, where he had a 3.83 ERA. So far, in 2022, Gumby owns a 3.69 ERA, the lowest in his career.
While that cutter is now one of his least used fields, it was effective when he used it, having only allowed four hits in 103 uses this season.
Jump to the Senior Circuit
Having played in the American League East his entire career, the jump to the NL Central can be a welcome change of scenery. The AL East has been one of the most dangerous divisions for pitchers this year, enabling AL East teams to hit 612 home runs together for a 4.26 ERA.
However, Montgomery is largely expected to take on rivals from the National League, so a break from the sluggers in the junior circuit could be helpful. In 13 career starts against the NL, Montgomery has served. He has a record of 5-5 over four seasons of data, throwing 65 innings and giving up a 4.25 ERA.
In 2022 he has outperformed his average; in two starts, Montgomery has a 3.86 ERA with eight strikeouts. In a start against the Chicago Cubs in June, the leftfoot threw seven innings and gave up no runs in a 2-1 win.