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Jordan Montgomery shines in his delayed season debut with the Diamondbacks

 The Associated Press  |    Apr 20th, 2024 12:42am EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jordan Montgomery’s debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks went better than is tune-up starts in Triple-A.

The 31-year-old left-hander cruised through six innings against the San Francisco Giants, allowing one run and four hits with three strikeouts on 78 pitches on Friday night.

Montgomery was the last marquee free agent to come off the board, waiting until days before the season started to sign a one-year, $25 million deal with the Diamondbacks. He had two tune-up starts in Triple-A Reno before pitching in his first big league game this season, allowing nine runs in 7 2/3 innings.

Friday’s outing was far better.

Montgomery was on a pitch count of 80 to 85 pitches against the Giants, and manager Torey Lovullo kept a close eye on him. The only blemish on Montgomery’s otherwise stellar outing was a solo home run by Jorge Soler in the fourth inning.

“I feel like he’s capable of doing anything, if he can get a feel,” Lovullo said before the game. “He can throw two or three different pitches on each edge of the plate. If he gets going in a good direction — and I’ve seen it happen — he’s going to go out and pitch deep into this game.”

Montgomery signed with the Diamondbacks a week after Blake Snell, the other big remaining free agent on the market, inked a two-year, $62 million contract with the Giants.

Coincidentally, the two faced eachother on Friday, with Montgomery making his debut and Snell – the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner – still seeking his first win after two poor outings. Both were represented by agent Scott Boras, who Montgomery fired following the lengthy free agency process.

“There are some similarities in what they’re both going through,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said.

Lovullo also acknowledged that not being able to pitch in spring training would probably affect both pitchers early in the season. He said that Snell, who was 0-2 with a 12.86 ERA in two starts entering Friday, “hasn’t been great.”

For Montgomery, he couldn’t face the same level of competition while his peers were getting feedback from big league hitters during spring training. He also wasn’t being evaluated by coaches had he been on a roster earlier.

“It’s hard to simulate a response from hitters when you don’t have hitters,” Lovullo said.

Montgomery, in his eighth season, was coming off a 2023 campaign in which he set career highs in wins, innings and strikeouts. He had a stellar postseason with the Texas Rangers, who acquired him in a midseason trade. Montgomery went 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in six playoff appearances — including five starts — that culminated in a World Series win.

Montgomery is 38-34 with a 3.68 ERA in his career, spending his first six seasons with the New York Yankees. He had hopes of signing a long-term deal, but wound up on a short-term contract with the team that he helped beat in the World Series last year.

He was part of a big offseason haul for the Diamondbacks, who also signed Eduardo Rodriguez, Joc Pederson and Randal Grichuk, and traded for Eugenio Suarez.

Lovullo hoped that Montgomery was able to take advantage of his tune-up starts.

“And now that he’s here, he’s just going to go out there and just watch the feedback of the hitters, and know he’s got good stuff,” Montgomery said.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb