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Domingo Germán’s fascinating 2022 and his potential playoff role

The right-hander has been surprisingly good since returning from injury, and could contribute in October.

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Domingo Germán is one of those players who defies explanation. In one moment, he can look excellent, but in the next, he looks like a position player pitching for the first time. It’s completely maddening, if still entertaining.

Since coming back from the injured list, Germán has pitched fairly well — to at least the mild surprise of most Yankees fans. After a rocky reintroduction on July 21st in Houston, he has been quite reliable since then in 11 games (10 starts), posting a 2.72 ERA, 4.02 FIP, and a 1.06 WHIP across 59.2 innings of work, never allowing more than three runs in any outing. Germán’s steady work was on display in his most recent start on Saturday against the Red Sox:

In this game, Germán managed to pitch well enough that the Yankees could eventually win the game. That’s not to say that his performance was without fault, but rather, it was good enough: five innings with just three earned runs on three hits. Unfortunately, all of the runs came as a result of the homers that he let up to Triston Casas and Reese McGuire. Germán also only struck out five batters. This perfectly epitomizes his performance as a Yankee. He often does enough for the team to win the game, but he will not put the team on his back.

Realistically, Germán is never going to be the Yankees’ ace, and he probably won’t even be a front-of-the-rotation starter. However, as they race toward the postseason, what should his role be in October? His advanced metrics might offer some insight into how the Yankees can use him going forward.

Domingo Germán 2022 MLB Percentiles
Credit: Baseball Savant

Germán’s advanced stats tell the story of a pitcher who offers both positive and negative attributes. To his credit, he does not walk batters very often, being in the top 20 percent of the league. On the flip side, he also does not strike out many hitters, ranking in the bottom 18 percent of the league.

Germán’s batted-ball profile does not offer a huge amount of upside, either. Opposing batters have been able to consistently hit his pitches with authority. His average exit velocity sits at 89.8, which is in the bottom 15 percent of the league. One positive point is that hitters have not been timing up balls with both the optimal launch angle and high exit velocity (barrels). Germán is only letting up barrels 6.3 percent of the time, good enough for the top 32 percent of the league.

As a consequence of Germán’s rather pedestrian batted-ball profile, his expected numbers suffer. This year, he has an expected batting average against of .242 with an expected slugging of .391. As a consequence, his expected ERA sits at 3.85. This is certainly suboptimal, but not insurmountable. Ultimately, he has pitched like a completely average starter.

The Yankees do not need a full five starters for the postseason. Most likely, they only really need three starters. Gerrit Cole (even with his recent issues) and Nestor Cortes are locks for the first two starting positions. After that, it becomes complicated. Luis Severino offers the most upside and assuming he gets through his final couple starts in decent shape, he will almost certainly have a rotation spot. Still, he only recently returned from injury and could be a little limited. Jameson Taillon or Frankie Montas could also start, but they have each experienced serious highs and lows throughout 2022.

So where does this leave Domingo Germán? Teams often need a long reliever to account for a starter leaving early; even in games where the bullpen takes over, someone having the ability to cover two-to-three innings is crucial, and that’s to say nothing of extras. The Yankees are probably only so comfortable with the number of innings that each of Severino and Cortes and have thrown in 2022 and there’s always potential for blowups from Cole, Taillon, and Montas, so having a bulk guy like Germán available could come in handy. This is especially true of Montas, who Aaron Boone has already said is highly unlikely to start as anything other than an opener — if he even starts at all.

Germán can fill the role of a bulk innings pitcher very well. He has shown that he can keep a team in the game. He will not put the team on his back, but the Yankees can trust him to limit walks and barrels. Based on recent performance, he offers a lot more consistency than Taillon or Montas. In the case that the Yankees need a lot of innings during a game, then Germán offers the best solution.