Yankees, White Sox Square Off in Battle of Two Slumping Teams

Jun 26, 2017

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Both teams can’t seem to buy a win as the Yankees have lost ten of their last 12 games overall, while Chicago has dropped six of its last 7 games. However, New York possesses a significant advantage in southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who is 5-4 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.24 WHIP this season, including posting a 3.74 ERA and 1.36 WHIP away from home. Montgomery boasts a 2.31 ERA with an elite 34-to-8 K/BB ratio over his past six starts, a span covering 35 1/3 innings.

The 24-year-old’s results are largely supported by his peripherals, including a 3.89 FIP and a 27.0% hard contact rate. Montgomery’s quick progression to the big leagues was due to a plus-slider that has induced a 59.0% swing rate (league average is 48.4%) and a 23.1% strikeout rate (league average is 14.7%) this season.

The talented lefty’s plus-curveball has garnered a 17.3% strikeout rate in 2017, which is significantly better than the league average of 11.4%.

What makes Montgomery successful is his ability to adjust to the circumstances, that is, utilize either his slider or curve depending on how batters are behaving at the plate. In the month of June, Montgomery’s curveball swing rate is 59.6% and its strikeout rate is 23.6%. Those results are astounding and demonstrate how deceptive his curveball has become.

“The curveball’s just been good right now,” Montgomery shrugged. “Just guys aren’t hitting it, it’s a pitch I can throw that’s not in the zone that they’re still swinging at it. When they stop swinging at it, I’ll go back to the slider.”

The Yankees also possess an above-average bullpen that has a 3.46 ERA and 1.20 WHIP this season, including posting a 3.06 ERA and 1.19 WHIP on the road. Chicago left-hander David Holmberg has failed to complete five innings if four of his five starts since moving from the bullpen to the rotation in late May.

While the 25-year-old owns a 2.84 ERA, his peripherals tell the true story: 4.24 FIP, 5.06 xFIP, 5.06 SIERA and a 38.5% hard contact rate. Holmberg lacks control (3.82 BB/9), can’t induce strikeouts (5.68 K/9) and has survived on an unsustainable .204 BABIP.

Holmberg now faces a New York lineup that is averaging 5.6 runs per game this season, including 5.6 runs per game at night and 5.3 runs per game versus left-handed starters. From a technical standpoint, New York is 8-3 in its last eleven games versus American League Central foes and 15-6 in its last 21 clashes with the White Sox.

In contrast, Chicago is 4-14 in its last eighteen games versus .501 or greater opposition, including 3-7 at home.  Take the Yankees as Oskeim Sports’ Free MLB Pick for Monday, June 26.