Right-hander Frankie Montas will make his first start for the New York Yankees on Sunday when they try to avoid a three-game sweep against the host St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals posted a 4-3 win in the series opener on Friday and a 1-0 victory the following night. They have won six consecutive games and eight of their last nine to move past the Milwaukee Brewers into first place in the National League Central.
"I think we're playing real good baseball right now," Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado told Fox after Saturday night's victory. "We have a long ways to go, but I think it just shows our potential of what we can do."
The Yankees have lost four straight games and five of their last six. They will turn to Montas (4-9, 3.18 ERA), who was acquired on Monday from the Oakland Athletics along with reliever Lou Trivino in a trade for pitchers JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk and Luis Medina plus second baseman Cooper Bowman.
"His level of talent, especially with how he's pitched the last couple years, we're just excited to get him in the mix," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Montas.
Montas will make his first appearance since July 26, when he allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits in five innings for the A's in a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros.
He was sidelined for nearly three weeks earlier in July due to shoulder soreness.
"He's got the full arsenal, the weapons and stuff you look for in a top-of-the-rotation guy," Boone said. "He's gone out and proved that the last couple of years, that he is that kind of caliber pitcher. He had a hiccup there with his shoulder; he's building up his pitch count and threw 78 the last time. I think we're comfortable with where he's at shoulder-wise."
More recently, Montas has been on bereavement leave after the death of his mother-in-law. He didn't join the team until Saturday night, and Boone said he will limit Montas' pitch count Sunday.
"We feel like we're we've had a ton of conversations," Boone said. "We've been in contact with them. ... I feel like we're in as good a spot as we can be with not having him here yet."
Montas will make his first appearance against St. Louis.
The Cardinals, another team linked to Montas during trade talks, will start veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright (8-8, 3.11) on Sunday.
Wainwright has allowed just one run on 11 hits in 14 innings over his last two starts. He has struck out 12 and hasn't walked a batter during that stretch.
But he wasn't thrilled by his performance in his last start, a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
"I had terrible stuff," Wainwright said. "Didn't have a fastball. Slider was kind of sloppy. Curveball was OK, thankfully. Changeup stinks. But we made it work."
Wainwright is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in his lone career appearance against the Yankees.
New York first baseman Anthony Rizzo is questionable for Sunday's game after back stiffness knocked him out of the starting lineup on Friday and Saturday.
"He's had back issues throughout his career," Boone said. "It's something that he is proactive with his routine and with his warm-ups and things. It's all part of his process and making sure he does a lot of maintenance work so things don't pop up that much."
--Field Level Media