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Elephant Rumblings: Montas is K-ing his way toward A’s records

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Urakami/Getty Images

It’s the weekend, Athletics Nation!

While a stellar starting pitching performance by Frankie Montas was spoiled on Thursday by late Rangers runs, his seven innings of one-run ball still helped Frankie move up his stature in A’s history. As detailed on mlb.com by Martín Gallegos, Thursday’s start was Montas’ ninth appearance with 10+ strikeouts. This passes soon-to-be jersey number retiree Dave Stewart, and ties Montas with Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter for third place on the list.

Frankie has had two of these 10+ K starts within his last three outings, sandwiched around an abbreviated appearance last Saturday due to a comebacker hitting his throwing hand. The pair of strong outings has lowered Montas’ ERA to 3.12 over 10 starts on the year, with a 0.97 WHIP. The strength of Frankie’s arsenal lately has been his split-finger fastball, a pitch he’s relying on now more than ever.

A chart marking Frankie Montas’ pitch usage percentages over his career Baseball Savant

Since being introduced to his repertoire in 2019, Montas has upped his splitter usage to the point that it’s been his most-utilized pitch so far in 2022, being thrown nearly a third of the time. It’s been effective at missing bats, with a 31.8% whiff rate attached to it. The increased use of the low zone dropping splitter has also helped raise Frankie’s percentage of swings on out-of-zone pitches substantially, from 28.7% in 2020 up to 35.7% this year. Montas is now in the top ten of 2022 qualified pitchers for whiff rate, right below Max Scherzer and Kevin Gausman.

All of these factors have contributed to a successful year for Frankie, who has continued to stake a claim at the top of the A’s rotation. While trade rumours still abound, this is the kind of performance that will either help lift the Athletics past expectations, or net the team an increased bounty upon a trade.

And if he can put together two more 10+ strikeout starts while he’s here, then he’ll catch Barry Zito for second place on the Oakland list, though Vida Blue safely in front with 21 such games.

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