2023 Dodgers Trade Deadline Targets: LHP Jordan Montgomery, Cardinals

It was too difficult to find him in a Cardinals jersey. (Via)

Back in February, when I wrote about the Dodgers’ need for pitching depth since 2015, it seemed pretty clear we would get to this point.

While Emmet Sheehan wasn’t even on the list, Michael Grove, Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller were considered likely to make starts, with Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Noah Syndergaard all landing on the IL, as was honestly expected to an extent. Those nine starters, plus four openers, have already surpassed 2022’s total of 12 and is already the second-most since 2016’s 15. Only 2021’s 19 different starters and openers tops just half of the 2023 season with 10 of those 19 being true starters.

So that brings us to the starting pitching market for the 2023 Trade Deadline and Jordan Montgomery, who is likely on the move for the second consecutive year.


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The St. Louis Cardinals entered the week at 40-53, sitting in last place in the National League Central and on pace for about 70 wins. That would be their first season under .500 since a 78-84 record in 2007 and the worst season since 1978 (based on win percentage). So Montgomery, who was acquired for Harrison Bader in a trade with the Yankees on Aug. 2 last year, is a clear trade candidate as he is set to be an unrestricted free agent after making $10 million in 2023.

Montgomery reached 157 1/3 innings in 2021 and 178 1/3 innings in 2022, and doing so with a 3.83 ERA/3.29 FIP for the former and a 3.48 ERA/3.61 FIP in the latter. Those came after he reached 44 innings in the abbreviated 2020 season and missed most of 2018 and 2019 due to Tommy John surgery. The list of Dodger pitchers to hit 150 innings in a season over the past two year? Tyler Anderson and Urias in 2022, Walker Buehler and Urias in 2021. One of those guys is obviously no longer on the team and another is rehabbing from his own Tommy John surgery.

Montgomery’s 5.9 fWAR in the previous two years and 2.3 fWAR in 2023 means he would rank behind only Kershaw’s 9.5 and Urias’ 8.9. The point I am making here is he should be a steady presence to make around 10 or 11 starts for the rest of the season. Assuming he is healthy, which at the time of writing this might be in question. Leaving his start on July 7 with a hamstring injury, Montgomery went in for an MRI and did not start over the weekend for St. Louis.

Through 103 innings and 18 starts in 2023, Montgomery holds a 3.23 ERA/3.52 FIP/4.03 SIERA/4.70 DRA. That’s the best ERA and FIP of his career despite his K% (22.3%) being very slightly down from its best full season peak of 24.5% in 2021. The walk rate is up slightly at 6.3% from last season’s 5.0% (though well down from 7.7% in 2021), but Montgomery has also slightly upped his ground ball rate to 45.9% from the 42.7% to 42.9% range for the Yankees in 2020 and 2021.

Some of that may have to do with Montgomery’s rise in sinker usage in 2023 compared to where he was with the Yankees in 2020 and 2021.

That’s an increase in usage against both left-handed batters and right-handed batters, with the former progressing from about 38 to 39% in 2020 and 2021 to 49.4% in 2023 and the latter from 17 to 22% in 2020 and 2021 up to 42.7% in 2023. Montgomery started throwing the sinker harder in 2022 as the pitch is now at 93 mph compared to 92 in years past. That added a bit more vertical and horizontal movement, though he brought it back closer to his 2021 for the former (15.5 inches) after hitting 16.5 inches horizontally in 2022. Montgomery’s change has gone through a similar tweak, up to 83.8 mph in 2023 from around 82 in the past three years while the vertical movement is up an inch from 2021.

The sinker’s Stuff+is tied for 16th among qualified pitchers at 97, with his change’s 98 ranking eighth and his curve’s 113 ninth. While none of those are an absolutely dominating pitch, that usage would provide a different look compared to the rest of the Dodgers’ starters. Miller is the only current starter averaging at least 31% sliders and at least 16% change-ups. Obviously Kershaw still leads the current starters in curves at 17.9%, also trailing Montgomery’s 22.4%. That extends to Montgomery’s 45.9% ground ball rate which would trail Miller (49.2%) and Kershaw (47.2%), but sit well ahead of Gonsolin’s 39.4%, Urias 35.3%, and Sheehan’s 34.5%.

Here’s a look at all three of the pitches.





As mentioned above, Montgomery is in the final year of arbitration and is making $10 million total this year. With about 60% of the season completed, that’s pretty easy math to know how much he is owed over the final two months of the regular season.


To STL: Landon Knack

To LA: Montgomery

Sure, I could make this more complicated. And Knack’s name could be swapped out for a number of other pitching prospects the Dodgers have in the minors or some that have already debuted in Los Angeles. However, we will go with him for now.

As Josh has mentioned on Twitter and on the Dodgers Digest Discord, Knack is one of quite a few prospects who will need to be added to the 40-man roster this winter in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Already 26 years old as of July 15, Knack spent the week before the All-Star Break on the Dodgers’ taxi squad in case he was needed as Brusdar Graterol was dealing with a shoulder injury. That did not happen and Knack wasn’t added to the 40-man roster yet, but he hasn’t pitched for Triple-A OKC since July 1. Knack was ranked No. 23 in the Dodgers’ system by this website, he’s No. 11 on MLB.com’s list and was at No. 22 for Baseball America. When Knack moved up to Oklahoma City back in mid-June, here’s a bit on what Josh had to say about his 2023 season.

Landon Knack, a 25-year-old native of Johnson City, Tennessee, has put together the best two-month run of his career. During the 6’2, 220 lbs righty’s first two seasons in the organization, he mixed in bouts of dominance between soft tissue injuries, but the former East Tennessee State Buccaneer spent the offseason optimizing his nutrition to help him take the next step forward, and, to put it mildly, the plan has come together.
In 12 starts for Tulsa, spanning 57.1 IP, Knack posted an ERA of 2.20, with 61 strikeouts against just 12 walks, good for a K-BB% of 22%, which ranks 6th in the Texas League.

In his final outing for Tulsa, Knack struck out 8 with no walks and 4 hits allowed across 7 2/3 innings and 101 pitches. The move up to Triple-A was a little rough at first, but through 13 2/3 innings in OKC, Knack has a 3.29 ERA with 16 strikeouts to six walks. All five of the runs he’s given up came on home runs, with three solo shots and one two-run homer in his first two outings at the level.

The Cardinal’s rotation currently includes Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz. With Wainwright set to retire, Montgomery and Flaherty hitting free agency/getting traded, and Mikolas and Matz turning 35 and 33 respectively by next May, the Cardinals could use a potential starter close to the majors. If they don’t see Knack as an option long-term in the rotation, Michael Grove could swap in with another lower-level piece added to the deal. Grove opened the season as the No. 25 prospect here, No. 23 on MLB.com and No. 18 on Baseball America. Depending on how the starting pitching market shakes out, Montgomery could cost a bit more as he’s likely going to be one of the most consistent options


I’m clearly not trying to make Montgomery out to be some season changing option for the Dodgers, but with so many injuries and a group of rookie pitchers who will soon approach their professional career highs in innings pitched, a steady presence with pretty consistent numbers over the past few years seems valuable.

Miller started late in 2023, so he’s still at just 63 innings across 12 appearances, and the most the Dodgers have had him go in his career was 112 1/3 in 2022. Sheehan is further along in 2023, sitting at 74 innings in 16 appearances, with a professional career-high of 68 last season, though he was also at a total of 92 1/3 between Boston College, the ACL Dodgers, Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and High-A Great Lakes in 2021.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.