Many felt Frankie Montas broke out in 2019 when he recorded a 9-2 record over 96 innings with a 2.63 ERA. However, he struggled with injury issues during the shortened 2020 season finishing with a 3-5 mark over 53 innings and a 5.60 ERA. Some feel splitting the difference could make sense, but in 2021, he's gone through some adjustments with intriguing results within two different splits. 

In his Age-28 season, he's logged 31 starts with a 13-9 record in 181 innings with 200 strikeouts against 56 walks, a 3.48 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 3.81 SIERA. Pretty solid. But, when parceling out his first 15 starts from his last 16, he's changed pitch mixes and may be taking the Sandy Alcantara path towards being a top-20 starter in 2022. 

Starting with his first 15 starts between April fifth and June 21st, he owned a 7-7 record with 87 strikeouts versus 21 walks in 82.2 innings. This translated into a 4.79 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP and a 3.94 SIERA. Biggest problem, giving up too many home runs and traffic on the bases. Within this sample, he served up 13 home runs while giving up a .269/.315/.450 slash line against. But he also registered a 24 percent strikeout rate with a 5.8 walk percentage and a 12 swinging strike percentage. 

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball, here's his pitch mix in these outings: 

Pitch Usage%SwStr%GB%
4-seam fastball31.412.228

Before delving into his last 16 start data, here's his pitch usage for all of 2021 as a sneak preview: 

When Alcantara initiated his breakout, he used more sinkers, going against the grain of those elevating fastballs. But with his arsenal, it worked. Same for Montas, especially since his sinker tunnels well with his split-fingered fastball:

With this in mind, Montas’ last 16 starts yielded a 6-2 record with 113 strikeouts against 35 walks over 98.1 innings with a 2.38 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 3.71 SIERA. He only gave up seven home runs in this sample allowing a .200/.281/.307 slash line while striking out 29 percent of batters faced. Plus, his swinging strike percentage jumped to 15.4 percent. Here's his same chart from this time frame, note the differences in his arsenal: 

4-seam fastball26.814.537.1

Noticing in-season adjustments sowing the seeds of a breakout should not be ignored. Especially given his recent surge in production. Overall in 2021, he's generated a 42.5 ground ball rate with a rebound in his weak and topped percentages on Baseball Savant. He's increased swings against while raising his whiff percentage by four percent compared to 2019. Plus, his velocity returned with health this year: 

On the upswing, Montas also displays improvement within his swing and take profile with a career high entering his last start this week: 

His numbers may be a bit skewed in terms of hard hit rate and home runs per fly ball percent from his first 15 starts, but his last 16 provide savvy fantasy players with a potential reduced price in terms of draft capital for 2022. Targeting Montas as a third starting pitcher with upside makes perfect sense. Focus on the 1.06 WHIP with a 20 strikeouts minus walk rate in his last 98 innings with a tweaked arsenal next year. 

This represents my last in-season column for Fantasy Alarm. I wish nothing but good luck for the Fantasy Alarm family in the years ahead. Thanks for all the support. Stay safe and be well - Greg. 

Statistical Credits: