The Oakland A’s are heading home for the winter after missing out on the 2021 playoffs, but on Monday they got a piece of hardware on the way out the door.
Starter Frankie Montas was named AL Pitcher of the Month for September.
The right-hander did everything he could to keep his team in the Wild Card race during the final weeks of the season. The rest of the pitching staff began to fade down the stretch, but Montas stayed strong and delivered 13 quality starts in his last 15 outings. In September he made six appearances, completing seven innings three times, and allowing one earned run or fewer on four occasions.
- Montas, Sept: 2.19 ERA, 37 ip, 40 Ks, 15 BB, 4 HR, 3.79 FIP
He did have one stinker in which he was knocked out early and gave up four runs, but he more than offset that by shutting down fellow contenders in the White Sox, Astros, and Mariners. A few other AL starters had similar success in run prevention this month, and a few others matched his heavy workload, but nobody else combined the two like Montas did.
This national recognition is well deserved, but it’s not news to A’s fans. This was the third excellent month in a row for Montas, who pitched like an ace for the entire second half of the season. In fact, his numbers were even better in August, with a 2.09 ERA and 1.78 FIP, and in July he posted a similarly sparkling 2.30 ERA and 2.59 FIP, but the competition for the award was stiffer in those months and he was edged out.
That in itself helps illustrate the extra value of Montas’ latest performance, coming in the sixth month of a long season. He stayed sharp all the way until the end, and did so during the heat of a tight playoff race.
- 9/2 @ DET: 6⅔ ip, 3 runs, 7 Ks, 3 BB, 2 HR, 5 hits
- 9/8 vs. CHW: 7 ip, 1 run, 7 Ks, 2 BB, 0 HR, 6 hits
- 9/14 @ KCR: 3⅓ ip, 4 runs, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 1 HR, 8 hits
- 9/19 @ LAA: 7 ip, 0 runs, 7 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR, 1 hit
- 9/24 vs. HOU: 7 ip, 1 run, 8 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 2 hits
- 9/29 @ SEA: 6 ip, 2 runs (0 earned), 7 Ks, 1 BB, 0 HR, 4 hits
The team won four of those six games, with Montas notching the victory in the box score three times.
All told, the 28-year-old had a fantastic summer that should earn him some attention in the second tier of the Cy Young voting. His 207 strikeouts are the second-most ever by an Oakland pitcher, and his 3.37 ERA is fourth-best in the league in the third-highest innings total. After missing the second half of 2019 to a suspension, and struggling through the short 2020, he rediscovered his groove and looked like the budding star we began to see two years ago.
- Montas, 2021: 3.37 ERA, 187 innings, 207 Ks, 57 BB, 20 HR, 3.37 FIP, .304 xwOBA
This is the first time Montas has won Pitcher of the Month, but it’s the second for the A’s this season, as Sean Manaea previously earned one in June. The team also got a recent nod last September (2020), when Chris Bassitt was the winner. Elsewhere on the pitching staff this summer, closer Lou Trivino was AL Reliever of the Month in June.
This is the 27th time that Oakland has won Pitcher of the Month since it began in 1975. Dave Stewart (3), Mark Mulder (3), Barry Zito (3), Sonny Gray (2), and Manaea (2) have received the award multiple times in an A’s uniform. Here’s the full list.
- 8/1979: Rick Langford
- 4/1981: Matt Keough
- 6/1985: Jay Howell
- 6/1987: Steve Ontiveros
- 4/1986: Dave Stewart
- 7/1989: Mike Moore
- 4/1990: Dave Stewart (2)
- 9/1990: Dave Stewart (3)
- 9/2000: Tim Hudson
- 7/2001: Mark Mulder
- 8/2001: Barry Zito
- 9/2001: Barry Zito (2)
- 6/2002: Mark Mulder (2)
- 8/2002: Cory Lidle
- 6/2004: Mark Mulder (3)
- 7/2005: Barry Zito (3)
- 8/2006: Esteban Loaiza
- 5/2007: Dan Haren
- 6/2013: Bartolo Colon
- 4/2014: Sonny Gray
- 7/2014: Sonny Gray (2)
- 7/2015: Scott Kazmir
- 5/2016: Rich Hill
- 4/2018: Sean Manaea
- 9/2020: Chris Bassitt
- 6/2021: Sean Manaea (2)
- 9/2021: Frankie Montas
Congrats to Montas on an awesome September, and second half, and year overall! The A’s rotation now features three of the past seven recipients of AL Pitcher of the Month.