One the best aspects of covering the 2019 Yankees has been following Domingo German’s success. Before he got injured in the first half, he was essentially the Yankees’ most important player. With Luis Severino out, another pitcher on the staff had to step up and anchor the rotation. It wasn’t offseason acquisition James Paxton, but rather a suprise breakout in German.
Not only did German find a way to lead the staff through a ridiculous stretch of injuries, but he did it while becoming one of the league’s best pitchers. Through May 21 he had a 2.60 ERA (3.25 FIP), 57 strikeouts in 55.1 IP and a 0.98 WHIP. Aftewards, German’s statistics dropped off a little, and he hit the IL for a touch under three weeks.
Over this period, many fans forgot about German and shifted their attention to the trade market. Yet, his most recent performance against the Blue Jays proved that he did not lose his touch. In fact. his first-half surge may not have been a fluke. Why? Because it showed what has made German such a great pitcher this season. It seems that he has found his go-to pitch.
The curveball has been extremely effective for German this year. To begin with, the put-away and whiff percentages for his hook have both gone up. The biggest differences from 2018 are seen in his opponents numbers against the curve. Their batting average against the pitch has decreased by 0.39, slugging by .122, and wOBA by 0.85. The effectiveness may be coming from the increase in spin rate. German has added an extra 39 revolutions per minute to his curveball.
Domingo German's night is done after a stellar scoreless six innings. In total, he induced 15 swings and misses tonight.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) July 13, 2019
Of them, 13 came via his curve.
As ESPN’s Coley Harvey indicated here, he is also getting more players to swing-and-miss on his curve. The whiff percentage for his curveball this season is 47.7% which is a 6.4% increase from last season. Here’s a look at the effect his curveball has:
If German and his curveball can continue to be this effective, it should make Yankee fans less concerned about the current state of of the team’s pitching. With Severino on his way back, and German pitching as well as he is, things might actually be looking up for the Bombers in the pitching department. Just imagine pairing a healthy Severino with German atop the rotation.
Who knows what kind of pitcher German can be in the postseason or even what his role will become that time of year. Regardless, it should be reassuring knowing that there’s a good chance that first-half German wasn’t a fluke. German’s next start will be tomorrow night against the Rays. Considering the division stakes for the series, the Yankees will need a quality pitching performance. It’s a good thing German will get the ball, because that should certainly be expected when he takes the mound.