The book on Domingo German as a starter (or at least the early chapters) is starting to take shape as he prepares for his ninth start of the season tomorrow in Tampa Bay. So far in 2018, scouts have marveled at German’s ability to miss bats, but would love to see the 25-year-old use his quality repertoire to limit runs scored. German has provided plenty of swings and misses (he has one of the highest whiff rates in baseball), but his 4.77 ERA still reflects a starter searching for consistency.
For a young arm like German, who is pitching as a major league starter for the first time (and coming off elbow surgery in 2015), that is hardly a surprise. There are still kinks to be ironed out down the road as German settles into his role, but even in the here and now, he is providing the Yankees with a huge asset that is desperately needed at this point in the season: consistent length to alleviate the workload on Aaron Boone’s bullpen.
One of the major concerns (there aren’t many) for the Yankees this season has been how a banged up and incomplete starting rotation could put too much pressure on the team’s vaunted bullpen, and potentially taxing one of the Yanks’ strongest assets by the time the postseason comes around. Injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery have only pushed this concern further into the forefront, but German has done his part to keep the bullpen as rested as possible while Tanaka works his way back, and while Brian Cashman searches for a suitable trade to bolster his rotation.
German has thrown at least six innings in his last four starts, and seems to be getting better with each outing. After being knocked around for two straight starts, he held his own through 5 2⁄3 innings against the mighty Astros lineup, surrendering just three earned runs and striking out seven. He then navigated his way through 6 2⁄3 innings against the Tigers when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff, striking out just three while allowing four earned runs. His last three starts since have been incredibly encouraging, allowing just seven earned runs over 19 innings with 28 strikeouts. His most recent start, a seven inning masterpiece against the Mariners in which he allowed just one earned run, showed how far German has already come, and the Yankees have to be ecstatic at the length they have received from their rookie.
Of course, there is the concern that the length from German may not last through the full season. We mentioned the elbow surgery in 2015, and in his first major league season as a starter, German could begin to tire come August and September. That concern surfaced last season with Montgomery’s workload, and could happen again with German. Hopefully a healthy Tanaka and a new starter acquired before the deadline will address that potential issue. In the meantime, the Yanks can enjoy their surprising new commodity that has been giving the rotation, and the bullpen, exactly what it needs right now.