Matt Bishop | May 26th, 2019
FRANKIE MONTAS, SP OAK
(6-2) 2.40 ERA 1.13 WHIP 9.15 K/9 1.95 BB/9
Frankie Montas sounds like a pop star or a child actor. After an unsuccessful stint in show business, Montas decided to try his hand at baseball. And man, is it paying off. While none of this is remotely true, Frankie Montas has arrived and has taken the league by storm:
Frankie Montas is leading the Oakland Athletics in innings pitched (60.0) and strikeouts (61). At the young age of 26, he has firmly cemented himself as the ace of this staff. If you thought his sub-3 ERA was impressive, he is currently pitching to his peripherals (2.40 ERA 2.71 FIP 3.23 xFIP), indicating this recent performance may be sustainable. On top of that, he has far exceeded his counting stats from 2018:
Montas has dropped his walk rate 2% and cut off a full walk per nine while raising his strikeout rate +9.5% from last season. This is a pretty drastic change for identical sample size: 65.0 IP in 2018 versus 60.0 IP in 2019. He has successfully minimized damage from the long ball (0.60 HR/9) thanks to his 52.1% ground ball rate (12th in baseball), which has aided by his 26.0% flyball rate (6th in baseball).
He has managed to avoid hard contact (37.6%), which is down -8.5% from last season. Montas currently carries a 2.9% barrel rate, which is Top 7% in baseball and is down almost 5% from 2018. He has also reduced his exit velocity more than 1 mph (87.4) and his launch angle 2.5 degrees (7.3) since last season.
Montas has gained more than 1 mph on his fastball since last season and this is the first time in his young career that all three of his pitches have a positive pVAL:
Montas is a 3-pitch pitcher: Fastball (56.8%) Slider (25.5%) Splitter (17.6%). He has ditched his changeup this season and added a splitter. And it’s very good. Opposing batters are only hitting .190 against his splitter and it’s inducing a 22.8% swinging strike rate and a 41.7% o-swing, or chase rate.
These are ridiculous numbers for a pitch that he just added to his arsenal (think Jameson Taillon’s 2018 Slider). What’s more impressive is his splitter is carrying a 47.0% whiff/swing, which is the 3rd best mark in baseball:
Montas’ strength has always been his fastball, which projected as a plus pitch and his slider, which projected as a plus pitch. His slider is inducing a 13.7% swinging strike rate and opposing batters are hitting .190 against it. It is also producing a 3.8 pVAL, which is the ranked as the 13th best slider in baseball, according to pVAL. Opposing batters are hitting .222 against his fastball with a 10.2% swinging strike rate. While both pitches are not overly impressive according to the metrics, you can clearly see below that the addition of the splitter has really played up his arsenal and helped increased his swinging strike rate across all pitches:
Frankie Montas has been lightning in a bottle for the Oakland Athletics. It’s still very early, but if he can keep his stellar play up, he should be in the conversation for the American League Cy Young Award and become a household name.
Read about our choice as the Early Favorite for National League MVP here.
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