Mets fans were less than enthused when Rafael Montero was slated to take the mound in the Subway Series opener Monday night.
Montero was taking his egregious ERA alongside his 1-8 record to the mound against the Mets bitter cross town rival, causing many fans to nearly write off the game as a loss before the first pitch was even thrown.
Montero has been a mystery his entire career. The right-hander has shown glimpses of brilliance in Triple-A and even in the bigs, but that is all largely overshadowed by his consistent nibbling at the plate, causing his walk rate to skyrocket and his ERA to go into the gutter. Yet, last night, in what might as well be touted as the World Series for the Mets, Montero showed up in a big way.
The 26-year-old took the mound and proceeded to strike out three out of the first four batters he faced, including Yankee standout Aaron Judge. Montero showed through the first 3 innings an ability to command the strike zone and work both on the inside and outside corners of the dish.
When the fourth inning came around it looked as if the old Montero had returned. A series of long at bats resulted in the bases being juiced and with only one out it seemed as if the floodgates were about to open. To the surprise of everyone in attendance and all of us watching at home, Montero buckled down and got out of the inning with just one running coming across. He exited the game after six strong innings, but not before Judge had tied the game with a solo blast.
While yes, the Mets didn’t get the win in game one of the Subway Series, Montero did do his part. With the pressure of a career riding on his shoulders, Montero is pitching not just for his future with the Mets, or his future as a starter, but his future in the MLB as well.
It’s games like last night that will forever have Met fans clinging to the hope that Montero can be a consistent effective big leaguer.