June 6, 2023

stone. LOUIS — Despite a recent dip, but still holding a slim edge for the best record in the American League, the Yankees made a move ahead of the MLB trade deadline last Monday. They sent two top-10 rookies and two other minor league players to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for backup pitcher Lou Trivino and starting pitcher Frankie Montas.

Although right-hander Trevino has been underwhelming this season by his career standards, he has strengthened an injury-ravaged bullpen. He has made four appearances for the Yankees. But Montas, the core of the trade and the rotation help other contending teams have also been looking for, has yet to make his Yankees debut.

Due to the death of his family, Montas did not join the Yankees until Saturday night to meet them in St. Louis. He huddled with receiver Jose Trevino at the team hotel. A day later, he took the mound for the first time as the Yankees. But even he can’t stop the team’s worst slide of 2022.

Montas had his worst start to the season, running six runs in three innings on Sunday. The 12-9 loss to the soaring Cardinals ended the Yankees’ first three-game winning streak of the season and extended their worst five-game losing streak of the season.

On July 8, the Yankees broke MLB’s winning record (116) with 118 in 162 regular-season games. Since then, they’ve lost 9-16. The Yankees (70-39) still hold a sizable lead in their division, the AL East, but the cracks are showing as they lose to the Houston Astros (70-40) in the playoffs for the AL title .

Against the Cardinals, who are No. 1 in the National League, Montas’ command was inconsistent. In the second inning, the Yankees went 4-1 and he led the top two hitters. Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt each had one run — with a walk in between — to give the Cardinals one run. Then Nolan Arenado hit a go-ahead three-run homer to earn him the curtain.

Right fielder Aaron Judge tied the game with a two in the fifth, but the Yankees’ bullpen squandered the score with a 3-pointer in the second half.

One reason Montas has struggled may be his irregular schedule of late. Right-hander Montas returns on July 21 after missing nearly three weeks with a throwing shoulder inflammation. He started again for Oakland on July 26, throwing 78 pitches before being traded to New York. But according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone, the death of Montas’ family delayed his arrival and affected his workload, and he is still recovering from the injury anyway.

Team pitching coach Matt Black said that while Montas was on the bereavement list, team pitching director Sam Briand flew to Arizona to meet with him and oversee his pitching, including a bullpen meeting.

“We didn’t want him to go out on his own for four or five days and then start, so Sam went, kind of stared at him, talked about what to expect, and then downloaded us his do his routine and everything,” Black said.

“We had the best week possible given the circumstances,” Boone added.

Ahead of the trade deadline, the Yankees added All-Star outfielder Andrew Bening Tendi, a left-handed touch hitter, to help further balance the lineup and weather the absence of Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles tendonitis). And the struggles of Aaron Hicks (.226 batting average); right-handed pitcher Scott Effross, who struck out with a sidearm; Trivino; and Montas.

The 29-year-old Montas has stepped up to a rotation that has ironed out some issues (Domingo Devin has a 5.09 ERA in four starts since returning from a shoulder injury), and hasn’t had one until mid-September. Luis Severino (strained right latissimus dorsi).

But the Yankees also subtracted from their rotation, and surprisingly, the 29-year-old left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who was drafted by the Yankees in 2014, has pitched solidly (3.69 ERA) and is in Next year under the control of the team. Harrison Bader’s Cardinals, a 2021 Golden Glove winner center fielder, could be on the injured list until September. Although Budd is shooting .256 this season and has been sidelined with plantar fasciitis since late June, he could help prop up the Yankees’ weakest defensive outfield position.

(Montgomery, who beat the Yankees 1-0 on Saturday, said it was emotional and strange to face his former teammate so suddenly.)

While the baseball industry sees Montas as an upgrade to Montgomery, general manager Brian Cashman recently said he didn’t buy Montas and then send Montgomery. The trade for Montas, who will become a free agent after the 2023 season, and the trade of Montgomery for Bader, he said, are all about “how can we do the best job possible when October matters most. The ability to fly higher” and what gives us the most quality options. “

Black said Montas was similar to Severino, “a bulldog that hits you with force on the mound.” He later added: “For us, it’s a mid-to-top shooter in the 90s with a full arsenal to get left and right out. It fits right at the top of our rotation and gives us another us Someone who has confidence in making the playoffs.”

Montas, who originally signed with the Boston Red Sox in the Dominican Republic, found a foothold on the track team after being traded several times. In six years in Oakland, Montas went 35-30 with a 3.70 ERA in nearly 538 innings, was suspended 80 games in 2019 for taking performance-enhancing drugs, and threw just one season. 180-plus innings (3.37 ERA in 2021).

Before joining the Yankees, Montas had a 3.18 ERA in 104⅔ innings this season. His first impressions didn’t go well, but since they’re scheduled for October, the Yankees will need Montas to get back in shape.

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