Rafael Montero’s physical talent is undeniable. How will he respond to the playoffs especially facing the team that gave up on him?
It’s hard to believe that Rafael Montero was rated just as high as Jacob DeGrom in the New York Mets minor league system given how different their careers have gone.
Just last year Montero was in the minor leagues for Seattle due to his ineffectiveness at the major league level before being involved in a trade that brought Kendall Graveman to Houston to shore up the bullpen.
Montero has been a revelation appearing in 71 games, the most of any Astros pitcher, while posting a 2.37 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP, good for fourth on the team only behind Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier and Hector Neris.
Montero’s physical gifts have never been in question. The mental side of things, much like the aforementioned Valdez, have been the biggest impediment to him fulfilling his potential as a devastating weapon out of the bullpen or even as a starter.
Montero has become the Astros go to set-up man in the eighth inning this year and his counterparts in Seattle are no slouches.
In fact the one place where Houston and Seattle are most evenly matched has to be the bullpen. While Houston’s relievers lead the entire major leagues with a 2.80 ERA, the Mariners were sixth with a 3.33 ERA.
The Astros have the advantage in middle and long relief, but in the back end the Mariners have Andres Munoz who can throw over 100 mph on a regular basis plus Penn Murfee and Paul Sewald.
That’s a virtual tie with Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek, Ryan Pressly and Montero. Montero has the talent, but in a rough Seattle environment where he had the lowest point of his career, can he slay the mental dragons that plagued him while there with an entire stadium of Mariner fans berating him and reminding him of his failures? If so the Astros will be in great shape to win close games late.
If not the team could see some heartbreaking late losses similar to what the Blue Jays just experienced.