With just two and a half weeks until the playoffs get underway, Jordan Montgomery and Dellin Betances have little time to shake off the rust if they want to appear on the Yankees' postseason roster.
But both pitchers took the next step in their journey to fully recover from injury on Sunday, appearing on a big league mound for the first time in the 2019 season.
One would expect the better bet to be on the postseason roster is Betances, who came on in the fourth inning in relief of Montgomery and looked every bit the dominant pitcher Yankee fans have come to expect. He struck out both Reese McGuire and Brandon Drury, the only two Blue Jays hitters he faced.
"Really good for his first time pitching after just one day off," Boone said of Betances, who made a rehab appearance with Double-A Trenton on Friday. "That's why we went a little shorter with him, just the two hitters. He stayed in his delivery, didn't try to overdo anything. Obviously he showed command. It was really good to see him pound the strike zone how he wanted. Another big step for him."
"I feel like the last couple times out [in rehab], I was pounding the strike zone well," Betances said. "My arm speed isn't where I want it to be yet, so I need to stay in the strike zone to be effective."
Montgomery's outing was a little shakier, as he came on in the second inning to replace Chad Green, who served as the opener. Montgomery retired the first two batters he faced, but was subject to hard contact on both of them, as he was throughout his outing. He allowed two runs in the second, and another on a solo home run in the third off the bat of Randal Grichuk.
Montgomery did use his changeup effectively over his 41 pitches, using it as a weapon to keep the Blue Jays' right-handed hitters off-balance nicely. He finished his outing with two innings pitched, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out two.
But Boone was just happy to see the left-hander on the mound, noting that just being able to return from an injury like Montgomery's is something of an accomplishment.
"It's a long, long road back" Boone said. "This is a young man that's already had some success at the big league level. With a major injury and all the hard work that it takes getting back, for him to put himself in this position and get out there in the final month, a lot of credit goes to Monty."
"I thought he threw the ball pretty well, just wasn't sharp with his breaking ball and that hurt him a little bit."