Mike Montgomery has seen his prospect luster fade in recent years, switching organizations twice while posting mediocre numbers in the high minors. But the former first-round pick, once ranked as a Top 30 prospect in the game by Baseball America, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, has certainly looked the part since being called up by the Mariners at the beginning of June.
The 25-year-old southpaw shut down the Yankees with six innings of one-run ball in his major-league debut, and has pitched well in each of his four starts since, accumulating a 2.04 ERA and 0.96 WHIP with 22 strikeouts and eight walks over 35 innings. His latest outing was his most impressive: a complete-game shutout against Kansas City in which Montgomery allowed four hits and no walks, striking out 10.
He is, of course, performing beyond his ability to some extent. Montgomery had a 12-to-8 K/BB ratio prior to his gem against the Royals, and his minor-league track record doesn't back up this level of dominance. However, the M's have got to be happy with what they've seen, and it seems unlikely that the coming week will be the one where the lefty hurdles back to Earth.
Montgomery is lined up for two starts, both on the road but against teams that don't hit particularly well at home. First he gets the Padres, who have put up a .241/.291/.365 line at Petco. Next up are the last-place Athletics, who have actually performed fairly well offensively but have been weak against left-handers (669 OPS).
Still available in around 90 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues, Montgomery is looking like a prime option in The Week Ahead. Read on, and we'll highlight a few more that might be available to you.
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* Jaime Garcia has been lights-out since joining the Cardinals rotation, with a 1.69 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in seven starts, but he's stilled owned in only 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. With home starts on tap against the White Sox and Padres, he's a must-play.
* He entered June with a 7.15 ERA, but Ian Kennedy has lowered that mark by more than two full runs this month by allowing only eight runs over 30 innings with a 28-to-8 K/BB ratio. He follows a favorable match-up at home against the Mariners with a tough one in St. Louis, but is worth a look.
* When pitching outside of Coors this year, Jorge De La Rosa has a 1.86 ERA and is holding opponents to a 461 OPS. He is scheduled to start twice on the road next week. He did cut short his last start on Thursday after five innings due to a lingering finger issue though.
* Mike Leake is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in June, and his match-ups in the coming week are about as favorable as you could ask for, at home against the Twins and Brewers.
* He has flirted with no hitters in back-to-back starts, and now Marco Estrada is on the two-start list for The Week Ahead. He draws the Red Sox at home and Tigers on the road -- no easy assignments by any means -- but he's hot as can be, and available in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
* In four starts this month, Colby Lewis is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA. He has completed at least seven innings every time out. He's got a tough tilt in Baltimore to start the week but then gets the light-hitting Angels at home.
Sonny Gray: COL, SEA
Colby Lewis: @BAL, LAA
Wandy Rodriguez: @BAL, LAA
Nate Karns: CLE, @NYY
Mike Montgomery: @SD, @OAK
Kendall Graveman: COL, SEA
Clay Buchholz: @TOR, HOU
Marco Estrada: BOS, @DET
R.A. Dickey: BOS, @DET
Erasmo Ramirez: CLE, @NYY
Mike Pelfrey: @CIN, @KC
Phil Hughes: @CIN, @KC
Lance McCullers: KC, @BOS
Carlos Carrasco: @TB, @PIT
Danny Salazar: @TB, @PIT
Eduardo Rodriguez: @TOR, HOU
Miguel Gonzalez: TEX, @CWS
C.J. Wilson: NYY, @TEX
At Your Own Risk
CC Sabathia: @LAA, TB
Bud Norris: TEX, @CWS
Jaime Garcia: CWS, SD
Cole Hamels: MIL, @ATL
Gerrit Cole: @DET, CLE
Mike Leake: MIN, MIL
Shelby Miller: WAS, PHI
Ryan Vogelsong: @MIA, @WAS
Ian Kennedy: SEA, @STL
Jon Niese: CHC, @LAD
Mat Latos: SF, @CHC
Mike Bolsinger: @ARI, NYM
Jorge De La Rosa: @OAK, @ARI
Kyle Hendricks: @NYM, MIA
At Your Own Risk
Sean O'Sullivan: MIL, @ATL
Taylor Jungmann: @PHI, @CIN
Jimmy Nelson: @PHI, @CIN
David Hale: @OAK, @ARI
Rubby De La Rosa: LAD, COL
Allen Webster: LAD, COL
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Thursday, July 2: Cody Anderson @ TB
Anderson excelled in his big-league debut, hurling 7 2/3 scoreless innings against Tampa Bay. He'll look for a repeat against those same Rays on the road next week.
Thursday, July 2: Chris Young vs. MIN
Facing the Twins on the road earlier this month, Young allowed only one hit in 6 1/3. Now he gets them at home.
Friday, July 3: Tommy Milone @ KC
Since being recalled from a dominant stint in Triple-A, Milone is 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA.
Tuesday, June 30: Anthony DeSclafani vs. MIN
The righty continues to enjoy a solid rookie year for the Reds, and figures to fare well against a Twins team that has batted .220 on the road.
Wednesday, July 1: Chad Bettis @ OAK
Bettis has been a revelation for the Rockies rotation, with an outstanding 43-to-15 K/BB ratio in 49 innings. Opponents are hitting .225/.286/.366 against him on the road.
Saturday, July 4: Jeff Locke vs. CLE
Cleveland ranks 11th in the American League in runs scored. Locke has been inconsistent but can handle this lineup.
6: DET, LAA, HOU, NYY, SEA,
7: BAL, BOS, CLE, KC, MIN, OAK, TB, TEX, TOR
6: ATL, CHC, CIN, LAD, MIA, NYM, PIT,, SD, SF, STL, WAS
7: ARI, COL, MIL, PHI
You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:
Freddie Freeman: Out until early July (wrist)
Dustin Pedroia: Out until mid-July (hamstring)
Jered Weaver: Out until mid-July (hip)
Byron Buxton: Out until late July (thumb)
Travis d'Arnaud: Out indefinitely (elbow)
Chase Utley: Out until mid-July (ankle)
Corey Hart: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Nori Aoki: Out until mid-July (leg)