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Yankees Mailbag: Momentum, Domingo Germán and depth signings

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Get your answers to this week’s mailbag right here.

Mariano Rivera jumps in air as Yankees win game 5 of World Series in 2000 Photo by Ken Sawchuk/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Good morning everyone, your answers to this week’s mailbag are right here. Remember to send in your questions for our weekly call by e-mail to pinstripealleyblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Robert M. asks: So Yankees fans lost their minds after the team went 5-15 after starting 16-6. So let’s pretend they now have another surge and finish 14-4 in their last 18. Do the stats or science of the game prove a team is better off going into the playoffs with a major cold streak and then a hot one, rather than winning/losing every other day in those final 38 games?

Momentum is one of those tricky things like the “clutch factor” that we really can’t put a value on and quantify. That being said, I’m sure almost every team would take the scenario where they ride a big winning streak into the playoffs, rather than going up and down for a long stretch making no real progress in the standings if for no other reason than it feels psychologically better.

It’s certainly not a guaranteed path to success, however. Teams have gone into the postseason ice cold and done damage, while some of the hottest teams in baseball have entered and gotten bounced at the first opportunity. For example, the 2000 Yankees were cruising through August and into the first week of September, before they fell off a cliff. They ended the season on a dreadful 2-12 slump and turned around to beat the field for their fourth World Series title in five years.

The 2017 Indians, meanwhile, won an American League record 22 straight games en route to a 25-4 September record. Their postseason ended early after blowing a 2-0 series lead in the ALDS to the Yankees. The lesson here is that, of course, winning as much as possible before the season ends is ideal — but the postseason is a completely different situation, and everyone enters it with a 0-0 record.

Robert L. asks: My understanding is that Domingo Germán still has to sit out for three games in the postseason. What restrictions are on him now? Can he work out at the alternative training site? If not, is he training or playing somewhere else now?

Germán is actually eligible to return as soon as the postseason starts, he won’t have to sit out any games if the Yankees opt to activate him. Since he sat out last year’s postseason without officially being on suspension yet, Rob Manfred decided that Germán would be able to play should he get the opportunity. His suspension also doesn’t have any overlap into next season, his suspension is considered served in full for having to sit out the entire regular season.

Information on Germán is pretty non-existent, since he’s been held out of the spotlight even before the pandemic. He was held out of the team’s original spring training practices, instead working out at the Yankees’ Dominican Republic academy facility. Germán was supposed to be allowed to return for minor-league games two weeks before his suspension was going to be finished, but it’s unclear how that translates to today’s scenario. Players have to be on the 60-man roster in order to be at the alternative site, something that Germán currently is not on.

It seems like the Yankees aren’t going to bother trying to heat his arm up for a possible playoff appearance, and that’s probably the best decision. Putting aside the reason that he’s suspended, pitchers have been dealing with an absurd amount of injuries this season due to the quick ramp up from summer camp to MLB games. It would be negligent for the Yankees to ask Germán to attempt to stretch out for game action in such a short time period when he’s been away from the game for an entire year.

Larry S. asks: Should the Yankees look at signing Brian Dozier to a contract? Thairo Estrada has shown nothing with the bat or glove.

I mean, it couldn’t hurt to sign Dozier for some depth, but if you think Estrada hasn’t done much you probably haven’t looked at Dozier’s 2020 season. Dozier lasted on the Mets for about a month before they released him, playing in seven games and collecting a .133/.188/.321 slash line. 2020 has been crazy so it’s a bit unfair to judge him just off of that stint, but Dozier has been trending down for a couple of years now.

On a positive note, it’s likely that his services could be acquired on a minor-league deal with an option for the majors, so signing him would be very low risk. Looking pessimistically, however, there’s a good reason he’ll be available for such a low price.