Dodgers 2016 Season Preview: Frankie Montas
By Chris Harris
Previewing the Dodgers’ biggest prospect acquisition of the offseason, Frankie Montas
A top pitching prospect in the Chicago White Sox system, Frankie Montas became a Dodger on December 16, 2015 in the Todd Frazier trade involving the White Sox, Reds, and Dodgers. He was expected to help out the Dodgers as either a starter or a late inning reliever, but needed surgery to remove a rib, and should be on the shelf for 2-4 months.
The 54th ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, the right-hander began the 2015 season with the White Sox’ Double A Birmingham Barons. There, the 23 year old was as advertised, a flame throwing, strikeout machine that has trouble finding the strike zone. In 112 innings pitched as a starter at Double A, he registered a 2.97 ERA while striking out 108 batters. All those strikeouts came with a whole lot of walks, 48 for a walks per nine innings of 3.9.
This dominance earned him a trip to the Windy Cindy, where things didn’t go quite as smoothly. The strikeouts were still there, but unfortunately the walks came too. In 15 innings, he struck out 20 and walked 9. He started 2 games and made 7 total appearances, and turned in a 4.80 ERA.
2016 Role and Steamer Projections
Montas was expected to make an impact for the White Sox at either Triple A or the major league level. He was instead sent to LA along with Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson, where he was expected to compete for a starting spot or work out of the bullpen as a late inning reliever. He’ll definitely get a shot as a starter, but his control problems could force him to the bullpen where his fastball that usually sits in the 93-97 mph range will play well.
A stress fracture in Montas’ rib forced him to undergo a similar surgery to Josh Beckett, and doctors had to remove a rib. Being down a rib sounds pretty serious, but it’s not a death sentence to his 2016 season. From the time of the surgery in mid-February, he’s expected to return in 2-4 months.
When he does make his way back from injury, Steamers expects him to be pretty good. He’s projected to pitch out of the bullpen and give the Dodgers a nice 3.24 ERA/3.39 FIP, with a 9.64 K/9, and 3.27BB/9 in 10 innings. I’m sure the Dodgers would be thrilled to get that kind of production down the stretch, but it seems a little optimistic considering the time off with injury and his major league production last year.
What Could Go Wrong?
Except for an even more serious injury, it’s pretty hard for it to get much worse for Montas. Worst-case scenario is that his rehab hits a snag and it delays his return. The development time he’s already losing isn’t a huge deal, but if he were to miss the entire season, he’d be a big question mark entering 2017. A not as serious, but still less than ideal scenario is that he comes back and performs like he did in his first crack at the majors last season.
Next: Dodgers 2016 Season Preview: Scott Van Slyke
What Could Go Right?
His recovery going according to plan wouldn’t be a bad place to start. He could return sometime in the first half of the season, and help add a hard throwing reliever to go along with Kenley Jansen and Chris Hatcher at the end of games. Just living up to his projections would fill a little bit of a need in the bullpen, and give the Dodgers hope that he can be the dominant starter they hope he can be.