A little bit of comfort is going a long way for Yankees southpaw Jordan Montgomery.
His arm is healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago and his spot in New York’s rotation is guaranteed for the first time in the 28-year-old’s career.
Now, he’s certainly looking the part of being that reliable starter the Yankees need, at least in spring training.
In three appearances during the Yankees’ exhibition slate, Montgomery has gone a combined 10 innings, allowing just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. That included five innings of no-hit ball against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, where he struck out four on 66 pitches.
“This is how I want to pitch,” Montgomery said. “I hold myself to a pretty high expectation. I came in feeling good and I’m just trying to stay where I’m at.
“I’m in a pretty good spot right now. I’m just trying to keep finding my tempo and keep replicating my delivery. The more I do that, the more I’m going to continually find a bit of rhythm and execute more pitches.”
Of course, there’s always a grain of salt when it comes to spring training performances.
“You love to see the good numbers but you obviously don’t look at the bad ones, either,” Montgomery said.
Unlike spring trainings of the past, Montgomery was able to come into spring training focusing on his health, mechanics, and arsenal rather than making a memorable impression in hopes of just making the big club.
“Knowing I have a spot in the rotation, I have a little more leeway going in knowing what I need to work on rather than worry about striking everyone out,” he said. “I can kind of get prepared for the season more this way.”
He’s a part of the Yankees’ cemented front four of Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber, and Jameson Taillon.
The ultimate comfort, however, comes with knowing that his arm is in good shape and fully healthy after returning to the mound during an uncertain 2020 season.
Added security of keeping a recently-rehabbed arm healthy is surefire mechanics that keeps everything in its expected place on every single delivery. For Montgomery, a positive byproduct has been increased velocity on his four-seam fastball that has made his stuff look as good as ever.
“Most guys who have had Tommy John will understand that it gets to a point where it’s back to normal and you just go through your delivery and get your arm up and throw the ball,” Montgomery said. “I think I’m starting to get back to there and feel good with where I’m at.
“Definitely better mechanics [helped]. Better rhythm, better tempo… and I have a little bit more faith in my arm.
“It’s not tensing up,” he continued as he knocked on his head. “It’s feeling good, knock on wood.”