Frankie Montas’ first three starts for the Yankees were far from what was expected of him after New York went out and acquired the righty at the trade deadline. Even Montas himself would admit that, but the starter had his best outing in pinstripes on Tuesday night against the Mets.
While not nearly as dominant as he can be, Montas threw 5.2 innings in the 4-2 win over the Yanks crosstown rivals, while fanning six batters and giving up two runs on six hits. It took Montas some time to settle in, but when he did he showed glimpses of why he was one of the top starters on the trade block in July.
He worked his way out of two early jams in the first and second innings when he put runners on first and second base. In the game’s opening inning Montas managed to get Pete Alonso to pop out in a five-pitch at-bat and Daniel Vogelbach to go down swinging.
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In the following inning, Montas again found himself with two runners on and had some help from the defenders behind him. Montas’ best stretch of the game came when he struck out five straight batters from the third into the fourth inning.
“(This was) huge and feel way better,” Montas said about the bounce-back start on Tuesday. “Finally was able to go out there and compete, throw good pitches. For me, it’s just try to keep it going and go out there and do my best.”
Things hadn’t gone quite as well for Montas through his first three starts with the Yankees, having allowed 14 runs in 14 innings pitched going into Tuesday night. His ERA in that span was an unimpressive 9.00 and his struggles were compounded by the lack of success New York had been having.
Tuesday marked their first series win in the month of August and their set of three consecutive wins — defeating the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday and taking two straight from the Mets — was the first time since late July they had managed the feat. Their starting pitching had hit a bit of a rut as well and the expectation was that Montas would help bolster the rotation with the playoff push looming.
Montas’ tough first few outings were made more problematic by the fact that former Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery, who the Bombers traded at the deadline to St. Louis had been so dominant since. It forced general manager Brian Cashman to defend both moves a bit when he spoke with reporters on Monday night.
“We’re happy he’s here,” Cashman said of Montas. “I think he’s mentally strong and I just think it’s been a number of different things conspiring to throw him off a little bit out of the gate with us. We’ve got some time on the clock here to get it right and looking forward to doing so.”
Tuesday it had looked like Montas was taking those steps to get back to the level he was expected to be at. Once Montas settled in, he appeared to be much more comfortable than he had looked in previous starts and was hitting 98 mph.
“Definitely threw the ball well tonight, I mean better than I had been throwing,” Montas said.
The improved outing comes on the heels of the Yankees’ 10-game road trip that will take them to Montas’ old stomping grounds of Oakland. He spent six seasons with the Athletics before he was dealt this year and went 35-30 during that time and had a 3.70 ERA.
Montas said that he was excited about the return to Oakland on Thursday.
“I have a lot of friends there and I’m excited to see my friends,” he said. “I was there for a long time and I’m excited to see some people.”