No fakeouts from Aaron Boone when it came to naming a starting pitcher for Thursday’s Game 4 of the ALCS against the Rays.
Boone only had one starter left after his innovative and unsuccessful Deivi Garcia/J.A. Happ gambit in Game 2. So lefthander Jordan Montgomery will start Game 4 in his first postseason appearance and first time on the mound since Sept. 24.
Montgomery, who went 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 10 regular-season starts, will be pitching with the season on the line after the Yankees lost Game 3 to the Rays, 8-4, on Wednesday night.
It’s a dream come true for Montgomery, who didn’t pitch in the Yankees’ one-game postseason in his rookie year of 2017 and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018.
"I’m excited to get the opportunity," Montgomery said. "Been waiting since ’17, especially since I got hurt, so really excited to go out there and pitch again . . . This is what I’ve been working, really, my whole career for, especially when you haven’t been out there in a while. You get a little antsy and you feel like you want to get out there even more."
Montgomery said he’s "visualized being on the mound" and worked on "staying ready mentally" since his last outing. The 27-year-old said he isn’t worried about not being sharp against the Rays.
"This deep into the season, I’m pretty confident about where I’m at right now," said Montgomery, who faced Tampa Bay once this season and had his worst outing.
On Sept. 2 at Yankee Stadium, Montgomery allowed five hits (including two home runs) and four runs in just two-thirds of an inning in a 5-2 defeat.
If Montgomery falters, Boone said the 21-year-old rookie Garcia could be available out of the bullpen for Game 4 after throwing 27-pitches in a one-inning surprise stint as an opener in Game 2.
"I would say he would very much be in the mix, possibly, tomorrow," Boone said. "But, again, that’s something that with him being a starter – obviously, didn’t throw a lot – but I would think he’d probably be available tomorrow."
Boone’s gambit to use Garcia was much-dissected move, especially since it didn’t work. Happ relieved Garcia to start the second inning and allowed four runs in 2 2/2 innings in the Yankees’ 7-5 defeat.
"I've got a lot of confidence in Monty," Aaron Judge said after the game. "I've seen him this season go out there and do his thing. He's a dominant lefthanded pitcher and he's going to pound the strike zone, he's going to get outs, he's going to keep us in the ballgame. I know that, for sure."
Montgomery said no one with the Yankees has told him if he’s going to be used as an opener or a traditional starter on Thursday.
"I have no idea," he said. "I’m going to treat it as if it’s my game. I’m going to go out there and give it my all."
As for Friday’s potential deciding Game 5, Boone said "we’ll see" when asked if Gerrit Cole would come back on three days’ rest after throwing 97 pitches in six innings in a Game 1 victory.
Rays to use opener in Game 4
Rays manager Kevin Cash announced after Game 3 that he will use an opener -- reliever Ryan Thompson -- to begin Game 4.