Not much was expected of Domingo German in 2018, and the 26-year-old didn’t do much to move the needle as the season played out. It wasn’t the greatest showing for German, his incredible start against Cleveland notwithstanding. That holds true for both his time in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. He was demoted in late July and struggled with injury, and finished with just 3.1 innings of major league work the rest of the way.
As the second piece in the Nathan Eovaldi trade, it’s could be considered a success that he lasted so long in the rotation. That said, his 14 starts went a long way towards putting the AL East out of reach for the Yankees.
Stats: 85.2 innings, 5.57 ERA, 102 strikeouts, 1.331 WHIP, 4.39 FIP, 10.7 K/9, 1.6 HR/9, -0.1 WAR
Contract Status: Pre-Arbitration eligible, arbitration eligible in 2021
German started the season pitching out of the bullpen, and his first few outings represented his entire 2018 campaign in a nutshell. In his first appearance of the year, he allowed three earned runs, including a home run, to the Orioles in 2.2 innings of work. He also struck out five batters. Two outings later, he gave up a pair of runs to the Blue Jays in just 1.2 innings, but recorded four punchouts in the process. German showed quality strikeout stuff, hence his 10.7 K/9 on the year, but his inability to locate with consistency proved to be his downfall.
Before German fell flat, there was a promising peak when the calendar turned to May. Against the mighty Astros offense, German came out of the ‘pen to hold Houston scoreless through four innings after Jordan Montgomery left the game with an injury. German’s emergency appearance turned out to be everything the Yankees could have asked for, and it earned him a chance in the rotation to take over for Montgomery.
German responded by throwing one of the best starts by a Yankee all season, baffling Cleveland through six hitless innings while striking out nine. It was his first career start, and it couldn’t have gone much better. It was hard for fans not to get excited for this young starter with flashy strikeout stuff.
Then German crash-landed back on Earth. Over his next eight starts, he posted a 6.70 ERA, while allowing nine home runs and an opponent OPS of .824. After a quick, one-game stint back in the bullpen, Aaron Boone put German back in the rotation, and things somehow got worse. The right-hander finished the month of July with a 7.00 ERA over four starts, as opponents posted a .907 OPS against the righty, who was demoted after a rough outing against the Mets on July 20th.
The rookie had to exit his first Triple-A start with an ulnar nerve injury, but eventually worked his way back for two final outings in the majors, one in a starting role against the Red Sox. That game carried no meaning whatsoever, and German allowed a run over 1.1 innings. His frustrating year finally came to a close.
Despite the ugly numbers, German showed some promise. His high strikeout numbers could translate well to the bullpen, but he has to cut down on the home runs. German probably shouldn’t have been granted so much work in the starting rotation this year, but with the injury to Montgomery and the epic struggles of Sonny Gray, there weren’t many other options. At least it offered an opportunity for the Yankees to see what they had in German.