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What do the Cardinals have in Jordan Montgomery?

MLB: New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Last week the Cardinals traded Gold Glove defender Harrison Bader for former Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery. Pitching was a key area of need heading into the trade deadline and this trade significantly helped address the Cardinals biggest need. Down below we are going to evaluate what Montgomery brings to the table for the Cardinals.

The good

Over the course of his career Montgomery has been a consistently average pitcher. In his three seasons where he has thrown 1,000 or more pitches, he has xERA’s of 4.04, 4.06 and a 4.06 so far this season. Montgomery is not an overpowering pitcher in any way shape or form but he more than excels in a few areas. For starters the southpaw does a great job at limiting hard contact against him. His average exit velocity against of 87.9 miles per hour sits in the 65th percentile and his hard-hit percentage of 34.7 percent is in the 76th percentile. Additionally, he does not give up many barrels with his barrel percentage of 6.4 percent coming in the 70th percentile.

Monty also does a great job of both getting players to chase and whiff at his pitches. His chase rate of 33.2 percent is currently in the 88th percentile and his whiff percentage of 28.9 percent is in the 74th percentile.

The former Yankee is not known for his velocity with his average sinker velocity sitting at 93 miles per hour and his sinker sitting at 92.6 miles per hour. However, he is able to make up for this a bit as his average extension on his pitches falls into the 76th percentile. This is key in making the perceived velocity higher than the actual velocity itself making his pitches more difficult to hit.

The bad

There are some areas in which Montgomery has taken a step back this season. His strikeout percentage went from 24.5 percent last season down to 20.2 percent this season which comes in at the 34th percentile. As a result of his low strikeout percentage, he has higher than average xBA and xSLG with his xBA of .263 sitting in the 21st lowest percentile and his xSLG of .397 in the 44th lowest percentile.

Montgomery is not a pitcher with plus stuff as all of his spin rates grade out around average to below average with his velocity coming in well below average. He has tried to make multiple adjustments this season including throwing the sinker 17 percent of the time more this season compared to last season. In addition, he dropped his cutter usage from 13.8 percent last season to 6.1 percent this season and his four-seamer usage has gone from 16.2 percent to 9.1 percent. As a result of Montgomery not overpowering hitters, he is reliant on hitters making soft contact against him which he has forced enough of this season, but that reliance does increase the chance of him having the occasional meltdown.

The verdict

Montgomery is going to be a steady 3 starter for a rotation that badly needed one. He is not a true difference maker as a pitcher, but he is a starter who you know is going to get you around 150 innings and produce an xERA of around 4. Whilst those numbers are not sexy, there is certainly a lot of value in that trust and durability especially from a lefty. If the Cardinals were to make the postseason, we will almost certainly see him starting game 3 of any series and any time you can get a pitcher who can be trusted in a postseason game, it has to be considered a good acquisition