The Yankees rotation has one spot open. The job appears to be Jordan Montgomery’s to lose, meaning Domingo German and J.A. Happ have no place to call home.
It was former Yankees manager Joe Girardi who first noticed the 6’6″ lefty who looked like he owned the pitcher’s mound during Spring Training in 2017.
The 24-year-old’s poise and self-confidence enamored Girardi. Again and again that spring, Jordan Montgomery manufactured quality appearances.
So that when the Yankees needed a fifth starter in mid-May, Girardi, with no hesitation, handed the ball to Montgomery.
Montgomery went on to make 29 starts for the Yankees that season, allowing fewer hits than innings pitched, finishing with a 9-7 record. Good enough for Montgomery to finish sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting.
As Yankees fans know, disaster struck the following year, when after making only six starts, Jordan Montgomery succumbed to Tommy John surgery in June.
Following the typical rehab program to recovery, Montgomery was limited to two appearances at the very end of the 2019 season. All indications point to a full-bore “Go” in 2020.
Now, we are well aware of the ole baseball adage that says you can never have enough pitching, but having seven starters on the team at the same time is a bit much.
Eighteen-game winner Domingo German is in limbo at the moment awaiting MLB’s adjudication of his domestic violence case. But at some point this season, he will rejoin the Yankees.
J.A. Happ was traded at least ten times since the offseason began, but he’s still here. After a rough beginning to the 2019 season, Happ came on strong during the second half.
Good for him, bad for the Yankees is the $17 million Happ is due for 2020, plus another $17 million if he reaches 165 innings or 27 starts, usually a walk in the park for Happ.
Yankees: Montgomery changes everything
In any case, Montgomery’s existence means neither Happ or German have a role on the Yankees this season.
Of the two, German is more adaptable to a role in the bullpen with his assortment of pitches, including a live fastball.
But Happ, over thirteen big league seasons, is a pitcher who knows his craft, not the thrower German is at this stage of his career.
Unless the Yankees are willing to blow the luxury tax threshold wide open, it seems imperative they unload Happ and his salary baggage.
Takers for the full load do not exist, so Cashman may need to back-pedal into assuming some portion of Happ’s contract to enact a trade.
How much insurance should the Yankees buy
The wild card in the mix, of course, is injuries. A team takes them as they come as the Yankees did last season, but it is worthy to note that except for Severino, their rotation remained sufficiently intact.
As we all know, however, insurance of any kind is costly.
In a pleasantly surprisingly bit of news, though, Brian Cashman confirmed to Brendan Kuty that righty Domingo German has a fourth minor-league option.
That means the Yankees will be able to send him to Triple-A this coming season without exposing him to waivers.
The main focus of the Yankees is where it should be – on Jordan Montgomery.
He’s the real deal, and he is eerily similar to Andy Pettitte when he’s on the mound.
Naturally, Montgomery has a ways to go before the comparison is complete. Still, the stage is his and his alone as the fifth starter on what has suddenly become one of the best rotations in baseball…