Jordan Montgomery pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings during spring training.
BY MIKE MAZZEO
Jordan Montgomery came out of nowhere to win the No. 5 spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Joe Girardi made the announcement following Monday’s 8-1 victory over the Rays that Montgomery will make his first major-league start Wednesday against the Rays.
Luis Severino was pushed back to Thursday, meaning Masahiro Tanaka (Friday) and CC Sabathia (Saturday) will get an extra day of rest. It was supposed to be that the Yankees wouldn’t require a fifth starter until April 16.
Montgomery, a 24-year-old lefty, wowed the Yankees with an impressive spring. He wasn’t even considered a candidate going in, but ended up beating out the likes of Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and Adam Warren to win the spot.
“He has a four-pitch mix, he had really good downhill angle, he’s 6-6 and he was able to use his breaking ball really well,” Girardi said of Montgomery, who was on-turn to pitch Wednesday anyway for Triple-A Scranton. “When he locates his fastball, it’s really good. His stuff is really good. He has different ways he can get you out.”
Montgomery was a fourth-round pick of the Yankees in 2014 out of South Carolina.
He went 14-5 with a 2.13 ERA in 25 starts last season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. In 19.2 innings during the spring, he produced a 3.20 ERA and struck out 17, with opponents hitting .213 against him.
“He was on our radar. I knew he pitched well in 2016,” Girardi said “You thought about the other guys, thinking that they had a leg up — the Cessas, the Mitchells, the Greens — because they had been here the year before. And he just kind of pitched himself into it, and if you look at his numbers last year, they’re really good. He was really good in Double-A, he was really good in Triple-A and we thought he pitched extremely well when we started him in spring training, and that’s why he’s getting an opportunity.”
Girardi especially liked Montgomery’s consistency and deception with his delivery. “We think he has a chance to be really good,” Girardi said.
Girardi said he wanted to give Tanaka and Sabathia an extra day after both endured long outings in Baltimore.
Tanaka, who has allowed 10 earned runs in 7.2 innings, walked six and hit two batters combined in his first two starts, pitches better with an extra day of rest. In 13 starts with five days’ rest last season, he went 8-1 with a 2.41 ERA.
Brett Gardner scored twice, giving him six runs in seven games. He’s stolen five bases after having just 16 last season. “I talked to him in spring training and gave him a goal,” Girardi said. “I told him, your job is to score 100 runs. And if you do that and Jacoby Ellsbury can do that we’re going to have a pretty good offense. He’s run a lot. He’s swung the bat extremely well. He’s played defense extremely well, and he’s off to a great start.”
A-ROD IN THE HOUSE
Alex Rodriguez, the $21 million adviser, sat in suite 44 at the Stadium Monday to take in the game. A-Rod tweeted, “Big 8-1 win today at the Stadium” after the victory, and Rodriguez was seen in several photos watching the game from the same suite as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.