Jordan Montgomery has enjoyed life outside of the Bronx, and the Cardinals starting pitcher pointed out how the Yankees held him back prior to his trade to St. Louis.
Montgomery started his sixth season in New York with inconsistent appearances. The southpaw had a 3.69 ERA in 114 2/3 innings pitched while giving up 23 walks and only amassing 97 strikeouts on a 3-3 record. Since being dealt at the Major League Baseball trade deadline, the 29-year-old is a perfect 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA and 38 strikeouts with only eight walks in 43 1/3 innings.
Montgomery was on CC Sabathia?s and Ryan Ruocco?s “R2C2” podcast on Sept. 8 and reflected on his time with the Yankees.
“I was always worried about getting booed off the mound in New York,” Montgomery said, as transcribed by The New York Post’s Justin Tasch. “The pinstripes are heavy. Not everyone can handle it. I feel like I handled it OK. I could’ve been better, but there was a lot of things going into that I guess. But here (in St. Louis), I’m just being myself and pitching the way I want to. I guess the fans have kind of embraced me so far.”
Montgomery — along with MVP favorite Paul Goldschmidt — has helped the Cardinals maintain their lead in the National League Central. His strength in St. Louis tenure has been his fastball, something that was discouraged by the Yankees, according to the southpaw.
“I didn’t really have much faith in my heater at the Yankees,” Montgomery said. “I had been told that it wasn’t that good compared to my other pitches, and if I was gonna get hit, it was gonna be on a curveball or changeup, which isn’t how you can pitch.
“So if I got two strikes on a guy, he was probably auto-taking because I was gonna throw a curveball or a changeup. He was trying to just foul a changeup off or see a curveball down. I’m throwing my fastball in two-strike counts, I’m throwing anything in any count now, so it’s definitely opened up.”
New York is likely kicking themselves for trading Montgomery away — the 29-year-old had played his whole career for the Yankees since 2017 prior to the trade — but a change of scenery may have been what he needed to find his groove.
“When you come up homegrown, they take care of you and not everyone can pitch in Yankee Stadium,” Montgomery said. “We traded for Sonny Gray, and that didn?t work out well; we traded for Joey Gallo, that didn?t work out well. When you trade for someone, and they pitch in New York, you never know how it’s gonna work out. I kind of felt safe and thought I was gonna be there forever, or at least for a few more years.”
The Yankees and the Cardinals are leaders in their respective divisions, and it’s not an unrealistic possibility the two clubs face each other in the World Series.