Unlike his fastball and curveball, Montgomery’s changeup usage stayed practically the same with both teams. His changeup generating the highest whiff rate of all his pitches this year along with having the lowest average exit velocity at 84 and lowest wOBA at .273 makes it easy to understand why it’s his best pitch and why the Royals kept it active in his arsenal.
After his trade to the Royals, Montgomery saw his curveball usage drop immediately upon arrival which caused him to end the season with the second lowest usage of his career. The average vertical break of his curve has been going down since 2016 which may explain why the batting average against this pitch in 2019 was by far the worst of his career at .310 (previous high of .215).
Just like his curveball, Montgomery saw his fastball usage change after the trade but with an increase this time. He used his fastball at least 50% of the time for every game upon joining the Royals which was not the case with the Cubs (usage below 50% 7 times out of 20). He’s good at keeping the pitch low in the zone so the increase in its usage explains the big drop in line drive percentage from 33% in the first half to 21% in the second and an increase in ground ball percentage from 43 to 51%.
Montgomery’s primary pitch does not have to be his best but it should still get outs. It kept getting hit for more line drives than previous seasons resulting in more hits on balls in play. He’ll need to get those balls on the ground to succeed with it.
Montgomery’s main offspeed pitch may need to take a back seat to the changeup. It hasn’t been nearly as effective in the past with an increasing contact rate over the past few seasons.
Possibly his best pitch, Montgomery’s changeup gets hitters to chase out of the zone nearly 50% of the time. With a 21.5% whiff rate, he has established an elite out pitch.
The past two seasons Montgomery has been struggling with his cutter. It has been generating less swinging strikes and now batters are starting lay off the pitch. However, it still is a nice pitch to have if a ground ball is needed.