This was pretty close to a meaningless game. I think we all expected Aaron Judge to sit out today, so there wasn’t going to be a Triple Crown watch. There’s nothing the club could have done to impact their postseason standing or opponent. The only thing to do today was take some good hacks and try not to get hurt, even as they did fail to reach 100 wins, losing 4-2 to the Rangers in the 2022 regular season finale.
Domingo Germán had one more outing to carve out his role on the postseason roster, and he didn’t make the best of it today. He did have six strikeouts in 4.1 innings, but gave up five hard hit balls and two home runs. It is game 162, so he wasn’t necessarily trying to be the most deceptive pitcher, but there were more than a few balls he would have wanted back.
Solo home runs off the bats of Charlie Culberson and Jonah Heim were perhaps instances of concern. Germán’s never had a great fastball — his below average deception on the pitch is balanced out by pounding curveballs, his best pitch, in the zone and burying changeups. The two dingers came on those secondary offerings, a changeup hung at the belt and a thigh-high curve that Heim crushed.
Even though his defense hurt him in the fifth, his location was still problematic. Leody Taveras singled to center field, Aaron Hicks muffed the ball allowing Taveras to advance to second, but the pitch location was suboptimal at best:
Germán is going to have some role in the bullpen this October, and I’m not sure how much impact four more innings after a great two-month run will have on that role, but he didn’t help his cause today.
Offensively, with no Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup, someone was going to have to step up, so enter the catching tandem. Kyle Higashioka drove in Oswald Peraza in the second inning to open the scoring, and Jose Trevino, today’s DH, did him one better in the fourth:
One of the big debates for the next five days will be whether the Yankees should start DJ LeMahieu or Josh Donaldson at third base in the ALDS, and neither man did much to prove their case. DJ went 0-for-4, without a ball leaving the infield on two groundouts, a double play, and a strike. Donaldson, meanwhile, made some truly concerning swing decisions:
That center-cut changeup was the best pitch he saw all day, and he was right to offer at it ... only to immediately bounce the ball into a groundout. He seemed particularly enticed by sliders today, with three goofy swings on pitches out of the zone. Concerning at best.
The Rangers nearly added a fifth run in the eighth inning, if it weren’t for the rookies showing off their athleticism:
Josh Jung was initially called safe, but you can see on replays that his foot bounced up before touching the plate, and Higgy was quick to make a good tag.
The Yankees now get a few days to recover, ice up any bumps or bruises, and make some decisions on who makes the ALDS roster. In the meantime, the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians will duke it out for the right to face the Yankees, at the Stadium, with Game 1 coming Tuesday night.