LAKELAND, Fla. — Jordan Montgomery would have to get hurt at this point to not be part of a Yankees rotation that will be without James Paxton until at least May and won’t have Luis Severino for the entire season.
Not even giving up five runs and four homers in three innings of a 15-11 loss to the Tigers on Thursday at Joker Marchant Stadium dented Montgomery’s rotation chances.
“Yeah, I think he … what he’s shown us, where he’s at physically, how he’s throwing the ball coupled with his track record already,’’ Aaron Boone said when asked if Montgomery was a lock for a rotation spot. “This is a guy that’s already had a really strong big-league season under his belt. So I’m excited about where he is and feel like he’s very much solidifying himself.’’
Following a 9-7 season with a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts as a rookie in 2017, Montgomery made six starts in 2018 and underwent Tommy John surgery in early June. Last year, he made two appearances and worked four September innings.
Working against the same wind that was blowing strongly out to center and right-center, Montgomery gave up four of the nine homers the Tigers hit.
“Two of them were good pitches. Obviously, you have to pitch to the wind, and I’m not very happy about it,’’ Montgomery said.
As for Boone saying he was solidifying his spot, Montgomery refused to get ahead of himself.
“I’ve been trying to get my work done,’’ Montgomery said. “I believe when I get locked in, my stuff will play.’’
As for who would fill the No. 5 spot, Boone said that situation remains fluid and could feature an opener at times.
“I think in the end we could go a lot of different ways, whether we piggyback guys on a given day depending on who’s available. The opener always becomes an option on certain days,’’ Boone said. “But we feel good about guys like [Jonathan Loaisiga] and [Luis] Cessa, Deivi [Garcia], David Hale, [Nick] Nelson and Clarke Schmidt, all these guys have shown [they] have a chance to be factors for us at any point in the season. I continue to be excited about our depth, and I would imagine we’ll be a little creative in the early days as we wait for Paxton to come back and other guys to get into the mix. But I’ve liked what I have seen so far, and there’s been a lot of guys that have probably pitched themselves into the conversation to this point.’’
Part of being creative could include skipping the fifth starter when the chance arises. There are four scheduled off-days in April, but weather could force a postponement or two.
“Could be. You may pick an off-day, pick a time where you only need four starters in a given six-day period or whatever. Yeah, that will be part of it and things we’ll try to map out a couple of weeks ahead of time,’’ Boone said. “And also being mindful of that sixth day is kind of valuable for our starters, so we’ll be considerate of that and pick our spots to where we want to give them that extra day [of rest] going through. I’m sure it will look a little bit different throughout the first month of the season, probably.’’