BOSTON — Saturday night, Frankie Montas completed a full, encouraging turn. The Yankees may be struggling scoring runs, holding leads and running the bases on this road trip, but at least their starting pitching seemed to get back in line. After a tumultuous couple of weeks, the Yankees’ rotation went one turn through with a very respectable 2.61 ERA.
It’s a good sign for the Bombers as they go down the stretch of their final 48 games of the regular season. The Yankees rotation still has the fourth best ERA in the majors (3.46) and the second best in the American League behind the Astros’ staff (3.15). Over the last month, the Bombers pitchers posted a 4.04 ERA.
There have been some big hits to the rotation.
They lost Luis Severino, who was pitching well, for over a month when he suffered what the team described as a “low grade,” lat strain. He is on the 60-day injured list and cannot come back until the middle of next month. In a surprising move in the minutes before the trade deadline, the Yankees front office traded away Jordan Montgomery, who had been a steady presence in the rotation, for center fielder Harrison Bader, who is on the injured list.
So now the Bombers have to hope that adding Montas to a group that will eventually include Severino in the final weeks of the season is enough for their World Series intentions.
So while these last five games may not have been encouraging overall, there is a nugget that was encouraging mixed in there. Maybe the starters are coming back around.
It’s especially encouraging to see Jameson Taillon, who started the streak in Seattle on Monday night in Seattle, get back on track.
Taillon, who was scheduled to start Sunday night’s series finale against the Red Sox at Fenway, retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced in the Bombers’ only win in Seattle. He allowed three runs over seven innings, which the Yankees have to hope is a sign of him turning around after pitching to a 6.25 ERA over his previous eight starts.
“You know, there’s something to be said when you’re on the attack,” Taillon said after that start. “Even when you miss a little bit. You get away with a little bit more.”
Taillon is pitching to see where he fits in a Yankees playoff run this October, and Montas needs to be a big part of it.
So it was particularly encouraging to see Montas, who cost the Yankees most of their higher-level pitching depth to acquire at the trade deadline, get back up and look more like the pitcher they thought they were getting.
He had a disastrous debut with the Yankees after a death in the family delayed his arrival, in which he allowed a season-high six runs in just three innings against the Cardinals. But Saturday night in Fenway, he gave up two runs over five innings.
“I felt like it was a lot better for sure,” Montas said. “I was more into the moment and I was delivering the ball pretty good. I threw really good pitches. My fastball was good. The splitter was really good too.”
Yankees manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach Matt Blake chalked up Montas’ struggles in his debut to the circumstances. He had not pitched in 12 days, he arrived the night before his first start, introducing himself to teammates before the game and just the stress of dealing with a death in the family.
Montas was also on a pitch count because it was just his third start after dealing with shoulder inflammation.
“I felt very good, but I think I am on a pitch count because I haven’t pitched a lot,” Montas said. “I feel pretty good and my arm feels good. So that’s all that matters now.”