The Redbird Rants writers continue on with their list of the 20 most important Cardinals entering the 2023 season. Here is who we have covered so far.
We are now at number 8, and it belongs to left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery.
Montgomery was a fourth-round pick of the Yankees in the 2014 MLB draft. He spent 6 seasons with the Yankees, making 97 starts and winning 22 games. In what was a rather shocking move at the trade deadline, the first-place Yankees traded Montgomery to the Cardinals for center fielder Harrison Bader. It's not often you see two contending teams trade with each other at the trade deadline, but so far it's been a solid trade for both sides.
The Cardinals needed starting pitching yet again at the 2022 trade deadline, but no one expected Montgomery to be available, his performance was just as surprising as the actual trade. While Bader was on the shelf recovering from injury, " Monty " was pitching like an ace. He did not allow a run in his first two starts ( including his first start with St.Louis against the Yankees ) the first Cardinal pitcher to do that in his first two starts with the team since Al Jackson in 1966. On top of that, Jordan added a complete game shutout at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on August 22, he was one of the top starting pitchers in baseball. September wasn't as strong, he came down to earth a bit but still finished his season with St.Louis with a 3.11 era, which was lower than any season he had in New York.
As a team, the Cardinals went 7-4 last season in the games Montgomery started, and we saw Jordan make just his second MLB appearance out of the bullpen in game 2 of the Wild Card Series versus the Phillies, and he threw two and two thirds scoreless innings
Montgomery last season went from a bottom-of-the-rotation guy who would only go five innings a start with the Yankees, to a top-of-the-rotation and reliable 1 or 2 starter with the Cardinals. With injuries and a lot of questions involving the Cardinals' rotational depth and health going into 2023, Jordan will be a pitcher that manager Oli Marmol will be looking for consistency. And if he can continue his success from last season, it's obvious the Cardinals have found a diamond in the rough. He has had a rough spring so far in limited time, but let's evaluate further where Montgomery's importance on this team stands.