Why the Jordan Montgomery trade might be the one that wins Texas the division?

The Texas Rangers are now in a pennant race and adding starting pitching depth could be what helps them in the divisional race with Houston.
Miami Marlins v Texas Rangers
Miami Marlins v Texas Rangers / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Texas Rangers have been bearing nothing but fruit since the trade deadline. They even welcomed back Eric Nadel to the radio booth for the first time this season. The trades Chris Young made have led to Texas winning four in a row and increasing their lead over the Astros to 1.5 games. Aroldis Chapman pitched scoreless innings on Tuesday and Thursday, Max Scherzer picked up a win by pitching six innings on Thursday, Chris Stratton had scoreless appearances on Wednesday and Friday, and Jordan Montgomery picked up a win after pitching six innings on Friday night. These trades all helped improve the depth and talent of the pitching staff.

If the Rangers win the AL West all of the trades made will have had an impact. Chris Young's ability to add not only Scherzer, but also Jordan Montgomery to the starting rotation was massive. The Rangers started off 40-20 behind a dominant starting pitching staff and a relentless lineup. Scherzer and Montgomery restore the starting pitching depth that the Rangers had back in April and early May. Scherzer will play an important role down the stretch, but adding Montgomery will be the trade that will help this team win the division.

Texas Rangers are trying to dethrone the Houston Astros in the AL West

The Texas Rangers in their history have won the American League West seven times(1996,1998, 1999, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016). Since 2017, the Houston Astros have been the sheriff of the division only being usurped in the shortened pandemic season in 2020 by Oakland. The closest a team has come to Houston in those five division championship seasons is Seattle in 2021. Houston won the division over the Mariners that season by five games. Houston for all of their dominance has not been in a close divisional race.

Houston's AL West dominance is a reason why both Houston and Texas made significant trades at the deadline. Houston is desperate to hold onto the West for another year, while Texas is wanting to make a huge leap from 68 wins to winning the division. Houston addressed their weaknesses by trading for Kendall Graveman and Justin Verlander. Texas added more to their team by getting Chapman, Scherzer, Montgomery, Stratton, and catcher Austin Hedges. The talk at the deadline was the two teams getting the Mets aces, but Texas also getting Jordan Montgomery will end up being the difference maker.

Jordan Montgomery's efficient Texas Rangers debut

Montgomery made his first start for Texas on Friday night. He was a little shaky early on. He left some pitches over the middle of the plate and Josh Bell had an RBI double in the first inning. In the second inning Jon Berti hit a solo home run. The offense answered these runs in the bottom of the first with a Corey Seager home run and in the second with a Leody Taveras RBI-double that scored Mitch Garver from first base. It was 2-2 after the second inning and that is when Montgomery really settled in. He locked in from that point and pitched four scoreless innings and was super efficient. He only had 67 pitches through six innings. He retired 11 batters in a row from the third through sixth innings. He allowed the first two batters to reach in the seventh and was then taken out.

Montgomery pitched six innings, allowing two runs, had six strikeouts, and one walk. He went out there and did what he has been doing all season long and that is limit the amount of runs a team scores, pitching moderately deep into a game, and giving his team a chance to win. Friday's start was the 13th quality start for Montgomery this season. That reliability will help lessen the load on the bullpen. It will also make it easier for Texas to get the ball to their late-inning options. On Friday night Bochy went from Montgomery to Sborz to Stratton to finish off the game.

Montgomery's value increases in light of news about Nathan Eovaldi

Montgomery's value will certainly be shown over the next few weeks as it was announced that Eovaldi will not be ready to come off the IL until closer to the end of his month. Manager Bruce Bochy as reported by the Dallas Morning News said before the game on Friday,

"We’ll continue to evaluate (Eovaldi).He’s going to play catch today and will do that for the next few days. I asked Matt (Lucero), our trainer, today and he said I think we’re looking at two or three weeks (from now). Could be a little sooner."

This issue with Eovaldi also emphasizes the need that was there to get a second starting pitcher at the deadline. The expectation is that Eovaldi will come back and pitch out the rest of the season. If he doesn't then having Montgomery to add to Scherzer and the rest of the rotation should still be enough to possibly win this division and certainly make the playoffs.

Scherzer is the pitcher that will generate headlines, fan excitement, and competitive spirit. Montgomery's reliability and efficiency will be the reason why Texas wins this division for the first time since 2016. It will not be easy, but it is already apparent in the days since the deadline that Texas has upped their level of play. They have continued winning home games and are now 11-2 at home since the deadline.

The Astros are now fully healthy and are not going away. It will be up to the Rangers to continue winning games and increasing their lead when they can and staying away from losing streaks. The starting pitch depth this team now has will go a long way toward the Rangers being able to keep the Astros from winning the AL West once again. Montgomery's ability to put the Rangers in a position to win every time he takes the mound will go a long way toward helping the Rangers win the division.