Domingo German made his return to the mound for the Yankees on Wednesday night after being sidelined for nearly a month with a hip flexor strain. After dominating through much of April and May, German struggled in his three starts before hitting the injured list, so all eyes were on the 26-year-old right-hander in his return against the Mets at Citi Field. German didn’t disappoint, as he delivered his best start in nearly two months, advancing to 10-2 on the season.
German is at his best when he pounds the strike zone and gives opposing hitters trouble with the tremendous movement on his pitches. That’s what he did on Wednesday night, inducing a season-high ten groundballs and keeping the Mets in the ballpark after surrendering a leadoff home run to Jeff McNeil. In fact, the Mets only hit two line drives over German’s six innings, a season-low matching German’s first start of the season against Detroit. Eight of the ten groundballs came off German’s changeup and two-seam fastball, showing how effective he can be when he compliments his devastating curveball with the tailing action of his secondary pitches. With a strong infield defense, groundballs will be German’s friend in addition to his 9.83 K/9.
Even though he had some success with the changeup, the Dominican right-hander’s curveball is still undoubtedly his bread and butter, and he had it working against the Mets. According to Statcast, German threw his curveball 31 times on Wednesday (18 for strikes) and it was only put in play twice, a fly out by McNeil and a groundout from Todd Frazier. The Mets went down swinging four times and three of those were a result of German’s curveball.
What was most impressive about German’s start was his tremendous efficiency, throwing only 80 pitches over six innings. It was the fewest pitches German has thrown over six innings this season, and the first time since April 18 against the Royals that German went six innings without surrendering a single base on balls. “Stuff, tempo, command, everything. That was that good, dominant version of Domingo we saw in the first couple months of the season,” Aaron Boone said after the game.
If German’s health was a concern, the Yankees had to be satisfied with what they saw on Wednesday night. His fastball sat in the mid-90’s and his velocity never diminished as the game wore on. The silver lining to German’s injury is that the Yankees are going to be careful monitoring his workload, and the injury might allow him to make starts later in the season when some of the games could become more meaningful. German’s ability to give the Yankees length down the stretch could be a huge factor as they battle injuries and James Paxton struggles to pitch deep into games. On Wednesday night, German looked like the curveball spinning machine that carried the Yankees staff through his first ten starts of the season, and that’s a great sign of things to come.