Posted on June 6, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
A temporary vacancy in the New York Yankees rotation is now a permanent one. A month after going on the DL with an elbow problem, Jordan Montgomery’s season is official over. The Yankees announced Tuesday night that Montgomery will undergo Tommy John surgery. The young lefty will miss the rest of the 2018 season and will likely miss a significant chunk of next season as well.
Montgomery went to the DL in early May with what the team called a flexor strain. At the time, the Yankees expected him to miss six to eight weeks but eventually return to the rotation. However, Montgomery experienced discomfort in his elbow while throwing over the weekend. Upon further examination, it was concluded that the southpaw required Tommy John surgery.
“I’m obviously disappointed for Monty, but at least he gets some answers now and knows he’ll be in really good hands,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “Get through the surgery and start that rehab process. I talked to him today and he’s in pretty good spirits considering, so we’ll just give him the best support we can and look forward to him getting back at some point.”
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The 25-year old Montgomery has been nothing short of solid and consistent since making his big league debut last season. He posted a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts last year. He followed that up with a 3.62 ERA in six starts this season before going to the DL. He figured to be a stable force in New York’s rotation in the years to come. However, those plans have now changed. If Montgomery is slow to come back from the surgery, which typically as a 12-18 month recovery timeframe, he may not return until the 2020 season.
In Montgomery’s absence, Domingo German has joined New York’s rotation. However, in five starts, German is 0-3 with a 6.33 ERA. Now that they know for sure that Montgomery isn’t coming back this season, the Yankees may take a close look at their options if German continues to struggle.
Prospects like Chance Adams, Josh Rogers, and Justus Sheffield could all garner consideration. Sheffield is New York’s top pitching prospect. However, he has just five starts this season at triple-A after beginning the year at double-A. Adams is also highly rated, although he’s worked to a 5.26 ERA in 11 starts at triple-A this year.
Montgomery’s injury also makes it more likely the Yankees will pursue rotation help before this summer’s trade deadline. Aside from the opening in Montgomery’s spot, Sonny Gray is struggling amidst a 5.50 ERA. Masahiro Tanaka has also been inconsistent despite a 7-2 record on the year. That could force the Yankees to pursue a top-flight starter on the trade market like they did when they acquired Gray last summer.
“The organization and (GM Brian Cashman) are constantly trying to find the best ways to always be proactive, always put our organization in the best position to be successful,” said Boone.
The Yankees did fine to manage without Montgomery for the past month. But knowing he won’t return changes the equation. New York’s rotation is currently middle of the pack in the American League. If the Yankees are going to win the AL East and avoid having to settle for a wild-card spot, they need to find a reliable, long-term replacement for Montgomery.