The Yankees announced that they’ve designated right-hander Johnny Barbato for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for left-hander Jordan Montgomery, whose contract has now been officially selected from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Montgomery will make his Major League debut against the Rays today after winning the fifth spot in the Yankees’ rotation.
The 24-year-old Barbato, originally acquired in the trade that sent right-hander Shawn Kelley to San Diego, struggled in his Major League debut with the Yanks last season, as he surrendered 11 runs in 13 innings of work. On the plus side, Barbato did post an impressive 15-to-5 K/BB ratio in that short time while averaging 94.6 mph on his fastball. Barbato’s numbers in Triple-A last season were solid as well: a 2.61 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate in 48 1/3 frames.
Montgomery, also 24, was barely on the radar for a rotation spot heading into Spring Training despite a strong performance between Double-A and Triple-A last season. But, a 3.20 ERA and a 17-to-3 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings paired nicely with last year’s combined 2.13 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in the minor leagues to give Montgomery the edge for the final rotation slot in the Bronx. He’ll join Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Luis Severino in manager Joe Girardi’s starting five for the time being, although the overall rotation mix could still be fluid to some extent. Severino struggled in his first outing of the season, while the top three arms all come with fairly notable injury risk.
Montgomery will make his first MLB start on the same day as battery-mate Kyle Hiashioka, who was recalled from Triple-A after Gary Sanchez hit the disabled list this past weekend. The 26-year-old Higashioka has struggled to get on base in the Triple-A level to this point in his career but demonstrated some pop, as evidenced by his .237/.287/.473 batting line in 45 games at that level.