Montgomery, Scherzer raise stakes for Rangers' rotation

Texas' starters boast MLB-best 2.19 ERA in August with Deadline additions in fold

August 16th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- With the Astros hot on the Rangers’ heels in the American League West race, every win matters in Texas.

tossed six innings of one-run ball to secure a 7-3 win as the Rangers clinched a series victory over the Angels on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field. Texas (72-48) also maintained its 3 1/2-game lead over Houston (69-52) atop the division.

“Great work by Monty,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He mixed it up well, using both sides, changing speeds. He produced a lot of ground balls. Just a really nice job of pitching out there.

“He’s a good competitor, as you have seen since he's been here. He’s got good stuff, velocity, and a good changeup with the breaking ball and locates well. Just another nice outing for us.”

Montgomery matched a season-high nine strikeouts, while inducing 15 swings and misses with an nearly even distribution of his four-pitch arsenal.

The lefty said he normally throws a lot of sinkers down and away, but the Angels are an offense that feasts on those types of pitches. Montgomery still threw a lot of sinkers (26 of his 91 pitches), but he also mixed in nearly the same amount of changeups (25), curveballs (22) and four-seamers (18) in order to keep hitters off-balance.

“I think the fastball set everything up, making them really respect that pitch opened up everything away and under,” Montgomery said. “Every game is different. Like I said tonight, they're a really good away hitting team, so I had to primarily throw my [four-seam] fastball in. You just always have to adapt.”

Jonah Heim, who was catching Montgomery in game action for the first time, praised the pitcher’s ability to mix his pitches and work ahead of opposing hitters.

And Montgomery has come as advertised. He has now thrown three straight quality starts since joining Texas at the Trade Deadline, allowing five earned runs in 18 innings, good for a 2.50 ERA as a Ranger. Over that span, he struck out 20 batters and walked just two.

After the Rangers lost Montgomery's previous quality start against the A’s, 2-0, their offense provided him with more than enough run support against the Halos, including a two-homer night from Corey Seager.

“We’re playing well,” Bochy said. “We're doing things right. And it starts with the pitching. They're just doing a really nice job and giving us quality starts and length. The bullpen is doing a great job and the offense is getting hits when we need it.

“Obviously, a big day for Corey, that's huge, but the club is playing very, very well.”

Montgomery’s start was just the latest in a string of quality starts for Texas.

In August, the Rangers’ rotation has posted an MLB-best 2.19 ERA following the Deadline additions of Montgomery and Max Scherzer. Montgomery said it’s easy for the rotation to build momentum and feed off of each other when everybody is performing at the best of their ability.

And while the two new additions have elevated the performance of the staff, Bochy emphasized that just throwing more strikes and limiting walks has made a big difference this month for everybody.

“Everybody's going out there and competing and doing a great job,” Heim added. “Everybody has, I think, a new fire under him seeing these new guys come in. Everybody just wants to get better. So everybody's going out and doing their job, and doing what they do well and throwing strikes.

“I think that the biggest thing is throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys and then finishing them off. If we can stay out of the middle, and limit damage, we're going to be pretty good.”