The Montgomery Previously Known As Top-50 Spect has made his first three big league starts. For us. They were three lockdowns, right when we needed them, although they produced just the one win against Houston.
Montgomery's K/BB don't support his 1.89 ERA, of course. He's got 11 whiffs and 4 walks vs. 1 homer (niiiice!) in 19 innings. On another blog you would read "small sample." On this blog you'll be reminded that the couple of hundred pitches that Montgomery has thrown so far? are NOT representative specimens of the pitches he'll throw over the next ten years. Or even over the next month.
But what you can do, is try to fit Montgomery into a "pitcher family," and then ask how well he's likely to execute within that template. On the surface of it, Montgomery is a 3-pitch lefty, a guy with a really decent curve, a totally functional changeup and a (sometimes) ability to locate a 90 fastball. If he were polished that would make him John Smiley or Cliff Lee (heh) or even Roenis Elias, which tend to evolve into a family James called "Polished Lefties." His remark: you see these guys on a good day and you think "How does anybody ever beat them?!" but the thing is, they're always around the plate, so they give up some taters.
Montgomery is anything BUT polished. His motion is long and centrifugal, great followthrough, on the change curve. But throwing a fastball, 40% of the time he'll max up his motion and yank the pitch into the RH batter's shoe. Throwing a change, he'll decelerate the pitch by declerating his arm.
Tell you this much, though. There is a real shortage of left hand pitchers with these three strikeout pitches:
- 90 fastball located
- 75 MPH change curve
- 80 MPH changeup, exactly the shape of the fastball
It is exactly this repertoire that has Dr. D excited about Montgomery, raw as he is. It's the same arsenal that Jamie Moyer and Jason Vargas use, and they made it work really well at -5 MPH to Montgomery. It's sort of the anti-Happ approach: with such a convincing offspeed game, it's hard for hitters to get into their back legs.
Edit to add, it's interesting to listen to Montgomery talk in the postgame papers. He talks like he's confident in all these pitches, not a faux-confident, but a real confident. Hmmm.
A couple of days back, we gave you a list of the pitchers who are using 72-77 MPH change curves to any great extent:
- John Lester (12%)
- Jason Vargas (9%)
- Clayton Kershaw (14%)
- C.J. Wilson (17%)
- Mark Buehrle (13%; that baby is only 71 MPH)
- John Danks (9%)
From the right side, you got Zack Greinke, Doug Fister, and ... Jered Weaver throws it 20% of the time at 69%. Those guys, plus Montgomery, are the 10-pitcher list of guys with deployable change curves right now. Scan down the list and you'll see a group of pitchers that does okay. ... Going back a few years, David Wells and Barry Zito are the archetypes. That -18 MPH curve ball really yanks on the hitter's leash. Down, boy.
Personally I think there's a whale of a lot to work with here. Bill James once said, if you got two young 4.50 ERA SP's and the choice between 3 career starts or 40 career starts, go with the 40 career starts. See if you can build on it. Mike Montgomery gives you a lot to build on. David Wells his ownself pitched out of the 'pen for two or three years. When they get ready to stick Iwakuma or Paxton back in there, root for Monty to grab Vidal Nuno's pen seat.