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Montgomery makes rotation case vs. Jays

March 29, 2017

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jordan Montgomery's sharp arsenal has wowed the Yankees on several occasions this spring, but as the left-hander wrapped up an unlikely bid for a rotation spot, he sent a positive message on Wednesday by surviving against a tough Blue Jays lineup without his best stuff.After watching Montgomery

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jordan Montgomery's sharp arsenal has wowed the Yankees on several occasions this spring, but as the left-hander wrapped up an unlikely bid for a rotation spot, he sent a positive message on Wednesday by surviving against a tough Blue Jays lineup without his best stuff.
After watching Montgomery battle in holding Toronto to a run and six hits over five innings in the Yankees' 3-1 win at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, the Yanks will finalize their roster with the 24-year-old still very much in the conversation.
"I thought he managed innings pretty well considering his stuff wasn't as sharp as the last time he went out, and that's part of pitching," manager Joe Girardi said. "When you don't have your stuff, sometimes people can't get outs, and he was still able to get outs."
Montgomery evaded trouble in the first three frames before the Blue Jays put runners at the corners with none out in the fourth. He fought Ezequiel Carrera to induce a flyout, but former Yankee Gregorio Petit laced a run-scoring single over Brett Gardner's head to the wall. Montgomery held the damage there, then worked a perfect fifth inning.
"I was just a little rushed. Trying to make too good of pitches instead of just attacking the zone," Montgomery said. "I feel like the fifth inning, I finally settled in. Of course my last inning was my best one. Quality outing, I'll take it."
Montgomery walked one and struck out four, including fanning Jose Bautista on a back-foot slider. In his previous start against the Rays, Montgomery struck out Evan Longoria twice, and the Yankees have taken note of the names Montgomery has been dispatching.
"When you've got a guy that can show you that if he doesn't have his best stuff, he can still get people out, that's when you take notice of his pitches," catcher Austin Romine said. "He has a two-seam that's moving. He's getting a lot of ground balls, a lot of balls off the end. He throws his changeup out of the same slot so it looks the same.
"He put a couple guys away with the slider back-foot. He's got some really good pitches and even when you don't have it all, he was still pretty good today. I feel like he's good every time he goes out. When you don't have it all and can still get people out, that's pretty good."
The competition for the final two rotation spots includes Montgomery, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell and Luis Severino. General manager Brian Cashman said on Wednesday that the fourth starter has already been decided upon, though Girardi has elected not to announce it yet.
The Yanks will not name their fifth starter before the season begins, as three off-days in the first 10 games allow them to delay that until April 16 against the Cardinals. Girardi said Montgomery and Severino will be used as starters, regardless of if they begin the season in the Majors or with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"There's nothing I can control," Montgomery said. "I'm just trying to get outs and keep working."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.