The deadline trade that sent Jordan Montgomery from St. Louis turned out great for the Rangers and wonderfully for Monty.
As for the Cardinals, they’re hoping the deal will eventually pay off, but that depends on the two prospects obtained in the deal: starting pitcher Tekoah Roby and infielder Thomas Saggese.
The Cardinals included reliever Chris Stratton in the five-player deal and picked up lefty reliever John King from the Rangers. King pitched well out of the St. Louis bullpen but the success (or failure) of this transaction will largely be determined by the hard-throwing Roby and the hard-hitting Saggese.
The Cardinals are excited by the potential of both guys. The enthusiasm is warranted. But we’ll have to wait to see how this turns out, because prospects can stall, or lose favor, and get traded or otherwise sent away. We’ve been down this road too many times to assume anything.
Montgomery has pitched well for the Rangers and is metaphorically piling cash onto his free-agent money train that leaves the station this coming offseason. In a light market for starting pitching, the lefty will be coveted by pitching-needy teams. It’s a great time to head to free agency, and Montgomery has strengthened his profile.
In 11 regular-season starts for the Rangers, Monty had a 2.79 ERA and calmed an unsettled rotation. In the postseason he’s appeared in five games (four starts) and has a 2.16 ERA.
Here’s his postseason game log:
* Game 1 of the wild-card round: seven shutout innings for a win at Tampa Bay.
* Game 2 of the division round: four innings and four earned runs in an 11-8 victory at Baltimore.
* Game 1, NLCS: 6 and ⅓ shutout innings in a 2-0 win at Houston.
* Game 5, NLCS: 5 and ⅓ innings of two-run ball. The Rangers lost the game 5-4 after a blown save by reliever Jose Leclerc.
* Game 7, NLCS: Manager Bruce Bochy called in Monty to relieve Max Scherzer who was popped for four hits, two runs and a homer in 2 and ⅔ innings. Montgomery took over for the next 2 and ⅓ innings, keeping the Astros off the board. He was credited with – and earned – the win as the Rangers slugged their way to an 11-4 series clincher.
Montgomery had a rough start at Baltimore. But other than that, he’s been nicked for only two earned runs in 24 innings this postseason for a 0.75 ERA.
Montgomery was used in one postseason game by the Yankees. He started ALDS Game 4 against Tampa Bay in 2020, and was scratched for one run in four innings. The Yankees won 5-1.The Cardinals didn’t start Montgomery in their failed wild-card series against the Phillies in 2022, but he did come on in relief of Miles Mikolas in Game 2 and kept the Cardinals close with 2 and ⅔ innings of scoreless work. But the Cardinals went on to lose that contest 2-0, and were swept away by Philadelphia in two games.
Add it all up, and Monty has a 1.99 ERA in seven career postseason appearances that covered 31 and ⅔ innings. That looks very nice on a computer screen. And he’ll have the chance to build on that against the Phillies or Diamondbacks in the World Series. And then agent Scott Boras will work his usual magic and have multiple teams bidding against each other to enrich Montgomery.
Asked about making it to his first World Series, Montgomery said, “I don’t think it’s really set in yet. It feels great, but I’m already thinking about what’s next. And we’ve still gotta win another series.”
Earlier during the ALCS, retired Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia noted how the Yankees traded Montgomery to the Cardinals because they didn’t think he’d fit in their postseason rotation.
“I mean, I guess they got it wrong,” Sabathia said. “You gotta be in October to have him pitch in October. That’s not a slight. It just didn’t seem like the roster was set up for him to be pitching in October. So he’s in a spot where he’s impacting the playoffs and he’s in the playoffs.”
The Rangers are doing just fine with three former Cardinal employees in their postseason cast: Montgomery, rampaging slugger Adolis Garcia, and pitching coach Mike Maddux.
For Redbird watchers, it’s been fun to look at postseason games and gauge starting pitchers who will have a chance to explore the free-agency auction house later this fall.
Sonny Gray, Twins.
Aaron Nola, Phillies.
Jordan Montgomery, Rangers.
There are also potential trade candidates such as Tampa Bay’s Tyler Glasnow.
Nola seems to draw the most interest from Cardinal fans. He’s made nine starts over the last two postseasons. Five were good-to-great, but four were either mediocre or bad. He made 32 regular-season starts for the Phils this season and had a 4.46 ERA and a 25.5 percent strikeout rate – his worst performance in both categories since 2016.
With a chance to flatten Arizona and lock up the NLCS at home on Monday, Nola was smacked around for six hits, four earned runs and two homers in 4 and ⅓ innings. The Dbacks stayed upright with a 5-1 victory that muted the Philly crowd. That set up a winner-take-all Game 7 tonight in South Philly. All of the pressure is on the Phillies to get this done. Surely the brash boys will set off more home runs and not cough this series up after leading 2-0 and 3-2. Right?
One note before I wrap up:
After a triumph over Houston in the ALCS, Bruce Bochy will take his third different team to the World Series. He guided San Diego to the Fall Classic in 1998, but the Padres were routed by the Yankees. His Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014. And after opting to come out of retirement, Bochy got the Rangers into the World Series in his first season as manager. Bochy’s teams have won 14 of his last 15 postseason series as manager. In his last 65 postseason games Bochy’s clubs are 45-20 for a winning percentage of .692. Amazing. The Rangers hired Bochy instead of some inexperienced 35-year-old manager. Imagine that.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.
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All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible and Baseball Prospectus unless otherwise noted.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.