Montero has a late-moving 91-96 mph four-seam FASTBALL. It has late hop, making it hard for hitters to pick up, and an 89-94 mph SINKER. His other pitches need to improve, including an 83-86 mph sharp-breaking SLIDER to keep hitters in check. But that slider would benefit from tighter rotation and greater depth. He also has an average 87-90 mph CHANGEUP that has lots of late fade away from the barrel of lefthanded hitters. (2014)
He pitches backwards sometimes because he trusts all three of his pitches. None of them are plus pitches, but he has a fearless approach and very good control. He likes to pitch backwards, unleashing his heater only after setting batters up with his fastball or changeup, locating either one on either side of the plate.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 35.9% of the time; Sinker only 20% of the time; Change 23.2%; and Slider 20.8% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 38% of the time; Sinker 17.4% of the time; Change 19.5%; Slider 25% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: Did not pitch.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 39% of the time, his Sinker 7.8%; Change 39.4%; and Slider 13.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96 mph, Sinker 95.4, Change 90, and Slider 85.1 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 47.8% of the time, his Sinker 24.2%; Change 20.8%; and Slider 7.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 96.4 mph, Sinker 95.2, Change 89.6, and Slider 86.4 mph.
Rafael throws strikes with all of his pitches. He is a strike-throwing machine. And he is more of a pitcher than a thrower. Montero's plus-plus command and poise are such assets that he defies convention.
He has a simple, fluid delivery that he repeats easily from a three-quarters arm slot. He repeats his arm action easily. That is part of why Montero has superb command of the strike zone, moving his heater in and out at will.
He has immaculate mechanics, impressing the Mets and anyone else who sees Montero.
Montero has a very good idea how to pitch, he’s a strike thrower, he’s aggressive in the zone, he pitches to contact. What he doesn’t have at this point is a feel for his secondary stuff every time out. He is improving his slider and changeup.
His demeanor on the mound is impressive. He has poise. Montero’s work ethic and mound presence stand out as much as his stuff. With long arms and loose limbs, he pounds the zone, working both sides of the plate.
Montero has a fearless approach.
Rafael keeps the ball in the park, rarely giving up a home run.
In 2020, the 30-year-old Montero served as the Rangers’ closer, going 8-for-8 in save opportunities. He had a 4.08 ERA in 17.2 innings over 17 appearances.
Regarded as a Top 100 prospect in 2014 after signing as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Montero pitched parts of four seasons with the Mets from 2014-2017 before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018. In 2019, he signed as a free agent with Texas and had a 2.48 ERA in 29 innings over 22 appearances after being promoted to the Rangers in July.
In 97 career outings, including 30 starts with the Mets, Montero owns a 4.93 ERA with 242 strikeouts and 122 walks in 239 innings. He features a fastball that averaged 95.8 mph last year, per Statcast, as well as a hard sinker, changeup and occasional slider.
“Rafael is a solid addition to our ongoing efforts to fortify the bullpen,” GM Dipoto said. “We see his outstanding stuff and quality performance since converting to a full-time reliever as impactful in our bullpen.”
In his two seasons since recovering from elbow surgery, Montero is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP and 53 strikeouts with 11 walks in 46.2 innings.
Montero earned a prorated portion of his $785,000 salary with Texas and is entering his second season of arbitration eligibility, meaning he’s under team control for two more seasons before free agency.
Dipoto’s primary goal this offseason is to add experienced late-inning options to his bullpen, and Montero figures to be an immediate help there. (G Johns - MLB.com - Dec 15, 2020)
- As of the start of the 2021 season, Rafael has a career record of 8-17 with 4.93 ERA, having allowed 31 home runs and 252 hits in 239 innings.