Oakland Athletics: The forgotten Frankie Montas
By David Hill
With all the attention being placed on the Oakland Athletics pitching prospects, Frankie Montas has been lost in the shuffle.
It is easy to understand why so much attention has been given to Oakland Athletics pitching prospects Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. The two phenoms may be heading the rotation for the foreseeable future, beginning as soon as the 2020 campaign actually gets underway. Luzardo is arguably the best pitching prospect in the game, and Puk showed plenty of promise as he worked his way back from injury.
While there is plenty of excitement around both youngsters, another pitcher is being overlooked. Frankie Montas had been in the midst of his long awaited breakout season in 2019 when he was suspended for PED use. He did manage to come back for one more start at the end of the season, but his suspension made him ineligible for the playoffs.
When Montas was on the mound, he was certainly impressive. Over his 96 innings, Montas had a 9-2 record with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.115 WHiP, striking out 103 batters against 23 walks. He had finally appeared to have harnessed his stuff, looking like the former top prospect he had been.
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It was not just the raw statistics that spoke to his breakout last year. Montas held the opposition to a .230/.282/.364 batting line, allowing just eight home runs. He did a better job of getting opposing batters to hit the ball into the ground, lowering his batting average on balls in play against to .297, a mark close to league average.
That suspension, however, puts those gains into question. His breakout was truly impressive, but now one has to wonder how much of it was chemically enhanced. He did seem to be a completely different pitcher in 2019, but was also just about to enter his hypothetical prime. It is possible that everything had clicked.
This is the big question facing the A’s this season. The rest of the top of the rotation is far more known – Sean Manaea came back from injury and looked impressive while Mike Fiers is a steady middle of the rotation arm. Even though Puk and Luzardo are impressive prospects, there are still likely to be bumps in the road. Having Montas be the pitcher he was last season will go a long way towards the A’s postseason aspirations.
But is Frankie Montas the pitcher he was last year? For a player that is somewhat overlooked heading into the season, he may be one of the keys to the Oakland Athletics success.