Context isn’t everything, but it does say a lot. It can affect how a situation is viewed, it changes the perception, even if the final results are the same. Ultimately, you can’t be a victim of context or perception, evaluations must be made, and you try your best to look at things in a vacuum for a fair assessment.
The Yankees started the year with Isiah Kiner-Falefa as their shortstop, and that wasn’t thrilling for most Yankee fans off the bat. Still, his addition under the context of other elite names on the market hurt, even more, the perception of his play.
However, there comes a time when a situation is possibly overlooked because of a number of factors, including both context and perception. That’s something to be addressed.
Domingo Germán just made his eighth start of the year for the New York Yankees. The right-hander went up against the Oakland Athletics and pitched 7.2 innings of scoreless ball with three hits allowed, five strikeouts, and no walks. It was his best outing of the year, but it was all for naught as the Yankees dropped the game in extras, 3-2.
The Yankees acquired Frankie Montas at the deadline and excitement grew about the potential of this rotation, but the team threw a curveball into the mix right after. It is unclear if the Yankees were dead set on moving Montgomery or if it was simply a one-off opportunity to acquire a defensive wiz in Harrison Bader. Still, the point is that the move was made, and it was Germán’s time to jump back into the rotation.
With Luis Severino out indefinitely, Germán remained the fifth man of the staff, and the lack of confidence around him created a certain uneasiness with the chosen path of the front office. All of these factors above created a certain level of pressure for Germán to perform well as a starter — he wasn’t simply next man up filling in for an injured starter, or a swingman making the occasional spot start during a long stretch of games. Germán was now the pitcher that the front office was comfortable enough with, as a starter, to go out of their way and deal an established middle-of-the-rotation arm in Montgomery for Bader, a talented defender at center field, who wouldn’t be available until September at best.
One could argue that the Yankees weren’t very much concerned about their fifth starter’s performance with a humongous lead and a playoff spot all but secured — after all, Germán would only see a start in postseason play in a worst-case scenario. However, that line of thought ignores the fact this move is also relevant for 2023 as Montgomery was under control for another year, and that Germán could’ve remained in the ‘pen with the ability to step in following an injury as we’ve seen with Nestor Cortes.
The Yankees went through a rough patch over the past few weeks, and it’s easy to look at the deadline and be very critical of all the moves, especially with Montgomery in a groove in St. Louis, but Germán has actually been pretty solid since then, even if his underlying numbers do not indicate the sustainability you’d like. Germán has thrown a quality start in three of his last four starts, and after that trying debut on the road against the Astros, the Yankees’ starter has allowed more than two earned runs only once in his subsequent seven starts. A 3.19 ERA and 1.11 WHIP are more than adequate for a back-end arm.
The strikeout, hard contact, and swinging strike rates are all well below the career average for Germán, which raises some concerns. He’s been able to limit free passes with a 5.2 percent walk rate, but over a bigger sample size, there aren’t many encouraging signs. Domingo Germán remains a question mark moving forward, but for eight starts in 2022, he’s been a solid starter, even if for the most part during the worst stretch of play for the Yankees as a whole, which in the end hurts the perception of his play.