Yankees' Jordan Montgomery reveals how Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia helped him master his cutter in 'really good spring'

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Garrett Stepien
·3 min read
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Jordan Montgomery throws to plate 3/17
Jordan Montgomery throws to plate 3/17

After a roller-coaster past three years, following the Yankees LHP's impressive rookie season in 2017, Jordan Montgomery is ready to go. Through three spring-training starts, the 28-year-old Montgomery is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA, yielding just one run on four hits while striking out seven and walking three in 10 innings of work.

Thursday afternoon in Tampa, Fla., he opened up on what has been different about his latest spring with the Yankees. On top of an overall better feel with all the pitches in his arsenal, he has mastered his cutter -- evidently, with an assist from former Yankees LHPs Andy Pettitte (1995-03, 2007-10, 2012-13) and CC Sabathia (2009-19).

"They're the ones that showed me how to throw it," Montgomery said. "CC showed me it and it was a while ago since Andy's been around, but I played toss with him with it and I just started to incorporate it into games last year and it's just a good pitch to have."

Montgomery prefaced his cutter revelation with an acknowledgement of the changeup as another pitch he has tightened up. With the cutter, Yankees manager Aaron Boone sees a higher ceiling for Montgomery.

"He went over and faced a number of Phillies hitters, a lot of their big boys, over in Clearwater yesterday and threw the ball really well," Boone said Thursday afternoon. "Just being more in control and command of his delivery, repeating his delivery more, throwing more strikes consistently, the uptick in stuff.

"The curveball and the changeup have always been really good kind of swing-and-miss pitches for him, but I've really liked how he's used both his -- actually, all three his fastballs, now with the cutter. Especially with his last two outings, he's really used his cutter really effectively. Able to use the four-seam at the top of the zone, the good two-seam fastball.

"So his pitch package, I feel like, right now, is really good and he's getting more and more consistent with that pitch package. And, as a result, he's had a really good spring. And I feel like he's in a really good spot as we get ready to start the season."

Montgomery, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2018, has gone 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA through 75 1/3 innings spanning 18 regular-season games (17 starts) over the past three years. Accompanied by an improved secondary pitch and overall good health, though, his best with the Yankees could be yet to come in 2021.

"I feel great right now," he said. "I mean, I threw 74 pitches yesterday. My last couple innings were my best innings. I emptied the tank and felt strong still, could've gone longer. Not really that sore today. Tomorrow I'll probably be sore, but yeah -- I'm starting to feel more like I did in the minor leagues when I was throwing 115 pitches a game, so it's a good (thing)."