Montas signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal with the Athletics on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Montas didn't seem to be pitching like his normal self last season, logging a 5.60 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. His splitter, which was a dominant pitch for him in 2019, was much more hittable in 2020 and his groundball rate plummeted. It's possible he wasn't right physically, or perhaps his excellent 2020 was fueled by the performance-enhancing substance Ostarine, which he received an 80-game suspension for that year. A 13-strikeout game in which he allowed zero earned runs against the Mariners on Sept. 27 provides some hope that he can still return to his peak form.
Montas allowed five runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out three over 3.2 innings in a loss to the Astros on Thursday in Game 4 of the ALDS. Montas showed signs of life with his 13-K gem on the final day of the regular season, but he was unable to carry that success over into the playoffs. Houston hung a five spot on Montas in the fourth inning on Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa home runs. Montas struggled to the tune of a 7.23 ERA in the month of August and it did not get a whole lot better; he heads into the offseason having allowed multiple home runs in three of his final four starts (postseason included).
Montas will be available out of the bullpen for Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series against the White Sox on Thursday, Shayna Rubin of The San Jose Mercury News reports. A disappointing regular season in which Montas struggled to a 5.60 ERA in 11 starts led to him not being given the starting nod for any of the three games of the series. He does have experience as a reliever, as 30 of his 70 big-league appearance have come out of the pen, though the last of those came in 2018.
Montas struck out 13 while allowing two runs (zero earned) on four hits and two walks across six innings in Sunday's win over Seattle. He did not factor in the decision. The right-hander entered the start in a major funk, having allowed 29 runs across in his last 24 innings. He found his groove Sunday, however, setting a season high in punchouts while working through the sixth inning for the first time since Aug. 8. The Mariners were able to score single runs in the first and second innings, but both were unearned as a result of errors by Marcus Semien and Jake Lamb. The A's will certainly feel more confident in using Montas in the postseason after his strong outing, though it's currently unclear if they plan on using him as a starter or reliever.
Montas (3-5) took the loss against the Dodgers on Tuesday, pitching four innings and allowing five runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out three. Montas made his first start since Sept. 13 after going on paternity leave last Monday, but the right-hander was unable to use the extra rest to halt his recent struggles. He yielded a season-high three home runs in the loss and failed to reach the fifth inning for the fourth time in his last six starts. Montas lines up to start Oakland's final game of the season against Seattle on Sunday as he attempts to get back on track heading into the playoffs.