Jordan Montgomery pitched well in his major league debut

Jordan Montgomery didn’t last five innings, as he only pitched 4.2 innings, but he turned in a very solid performance in his major league debut against the Tampa Bay Rays in the team’s 8–4 win on Wednesday night. His catcher was Kyle Higashioka, who was also making his first career start behind the plate, was the catcher for many of Montgomery’s starts in the minors.

Montgomery helped keep the Yankees in the game as he only allowed two earned runs, three overall, before being taken out of the game after striking out the dangerous Evan Longoria on an inside 3–2 pitch for the second out of the fifth. Longoria has always hit well against the Yankees and is one of the best third baseman in baseball, which makes it all the more impressive that Montgomery struck him out two out of the three times he faced him.

In addition to his two earned runs in 4.2 innings, he allowed five hits, two walks, struck out seven, threw 61 of his 89 pitches for strikes and threw a first pitch strike to 13 of the 21 batters he faced. He also recorded three strikeouts in a row between the third and fourth innings. He threw his fastball, curve ball, slider and change up for strikes and can throw them all in any count.

Proving how dominant his stuff was for his level of experience in the big leagues is that he is the second Yankee lefty with seven or more strikeouts in his MLB debut since 1913. The other Yankee to do was was Al Leiter, who had eight strikeouts on September 15, 1987, according to the YES Network.

Montgomery, who is a 6–6, 225 lefty that starred at South Carolina, has a similar build to former Yankee great Andy Pettitte. The lefty from Deer Park, Texas, who has the third most wins in Yankees history with 219, is 6–3 and 235 pounds, which means that only one inch and 10 pounds separates the two.

Pettitte and Montgomery both have similar deliveries to home plate and Pettitte had and Montgomery has the ability to throw four pitches for strikes. Pettitte is known for his cutter but there isn’t one pitch that Montgomery is known for yet.

In the third inning, Montgomery had a big strikeout of Longoria on a slider for the second out of the third with runners on first and second. He then went onto strike out Rickie Weeks Jr. who hit a 2-run homer in the first inning.

The two-run homer that he allowed to Weeks in the first came after he walked Longoria with two outs on a 3–2 pitch. Montgomery thought that at-bat was his biggest mistake of the game.

“Two out walks always come back to get you,” Montgomery said. “I am going to learn from that and try to improve on that from now on. That is one of the key things I am going to take from it and just learn from it next time.”

He had a mature approach to his first major league start after the game.

“It was a good outing,” Montgomery said. “It could have been worse. It could have been better. I would like to go five, six or seven innings next time, but the team won so I can’t complain about it.”

Higashioka, who scored one run but was 0–4, said that Montgomery throws all four of his pitches from the exact same arm angle, which will help him not tip the hitter on what pitch is coming. Montgomery had swings and misses on all four of his pitches.

Aaron Hicks, who was 0–3 but had two RBIs on a bases loaded walk and a ground out to second, threw a bullet of a throw to nail Derek Norris at second for the second out of the fourth inning and prevent a runner from being in scoring position. The play was reviewed but the umpires couldn’t find conclusive evidence to overturn it. Many outfielders couldn’t make that throw.

Montgomery had strikeouts on his slider and curveball and at one point in the game had a much better than average swing and miss rate. All in all, it was a successful first start for Montgomery and after the game Joe Girardi said that the lefty will remain in the rotation.

The Yankees originally planned to have Montgomery and Chad Green make two minor league starts before deciding who would be the №5 starter, but they decided to give CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka an extra day of rest and that Montgomery had deservedly proven enough already.

In his appearance with High-A Tampa last week the Sumter, South Carolina native didn’t allow a run in 5.0 innings and last year the 24-year-old had an outstanding 0.97 ERA in six starts at Triple-A and in 19 starts had a 2.55 ERA at Double-A. He has without a doubt proven that he can dominate the top two levels of the minor leagues.

The offensive star that helped the Yankees even their record at 4–4 was the towering Aaron Judge. He was 2–3 with two runs scored and three RBI. In the sixth inning, Judge singled to center to score Starlin Castro, and in the seventh inning, Judge’s 435-foot blast to center scored Chris Carter to make the score 8–3.

In Judge’s last three games, he is 6–11 (.545) with three homers, five runs scored, six RBI. Judge (.308) has helped the Yankees win all three of those games. His average was .133 before this three-game stretch where he has had two hits in each game and a homer in three consecutive games. Judge is in his rookie season and is a big part of the youth movement.

He has appeared in all eight games so far an started seven and is tied for fourth on the team in average, second on the team with seven RBI and leads the team with three homers. He has so much natural power and if he continues to produce he will probably hit fifth or sixth instead of the 7th or 8th spot in the lineup that he has been so far this season.