New York Yankees: Who should be the fifth starter with Paxton out?

James Paxton, New York Yankees. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
James Paxton, New York Yankees. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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New York Yankees
Jordan Montgomery, New York Yankees. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Jordan Montgomery

Here is the favorite. Jordan Montgomery will most likely be the starter who replaces Paxton when the Bombers open the 2020 season. Depending on how the former South Carolina Gamecocks star performs, he might also end up replacing Happ as the fifth starter once Paxton returns from his injury.

Montgomery’s four-seem fastball is average, clocking in around 92-94 miles per hour. His sinker works better it’s close to the same speed with more movement. A biting curve, however, is Montgomery’s best pitch and the one he uses to get opposing batters to pop-up.

He had an impressive rookie season in 2017. His star was on the rise as he went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 155.1 innings with 144 strikeouts against just 51 walks. Unfortunately, he hurt his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2018. Montgomery returned at the end of 2019 for two unimpressive outings but has had the entire offseason to build his strength back up.

With Montgomery fully healthy again, he has a chance to officially claim a spot in the starting rotation. The lefty probably has the best chance out of everyone available to be the fifth starter and I’d put my money on him to earn it. Not only earn it but keep it throughout the season.

There is another reason why Montgomery could keep the fifth spot and it has to do with Happ. There is a vesting option for 2021 on the veteran. If Happ reaches 165 innings pitched or starts 27 games in 2020, his option for the 2021 season becomes guaranteed. This means the New York Yankees will be on the books to owe Happ another $17 million for the 2021 season.