Domingo German is pitching like an ace for the Yankees at the moment, but can the team really count on him to pitch like this for a full season?
When this season began, the Yankees didn’t really know what to expect from Domingo German. He showed flashes of greatness in 2018, but overall his contribution at the Major League level was pretty poor. Fortunately for manager Aaron Boone, German has pitched like an All-Star to date.
The natural question to ask is whether or not German’s terrific form is a product of small sample size or an indicator of meaningful change for the 26-year-old right hander. The answer, as usual, is that the truth lies somewhere in between. It’s highly unlikely that German is going to maintain his current ERA of 1.75 for the full season, but there are also reason reasons to believe he’s much better than the 5.57 ERA he posted in 2018.
The biggest reason to believe in German’s progression is the improvement in his command this season. He’s never struggled much with walking guys, but he threw too many fat pitches in the middle of the plate last season. His stuff is good, but not good enough to avoid getting pounded when it’s thrown down the middle of the plate.
This year German’s command in the strike zone has been noticeably improved. He’s still not walking many batters, but he’s definitely making a concerted effort to pitch off the corners. That naturally means that more of his misses end up off the plate than they do down the middle. Opposing batters are having a lot of trouble squaring up German’s stuff as a result.
The biggest reason for optimism about German is the command he’s showing with his curve ball. It’s always been his best pitch, but this year he’s located it better than ever before. That’s allowing German to pitch backwards in counts and throw his best pitch in unconventional counts.
However, everything about German’s ace-like performance to date screams that he’s a candidate for regression. Any Yankees fans hoping he’s going to supplant Luis Severino as the team’s No. 1 starter is set to be sorely disappointed. That doesn’t mean the wheels are going to fall of for German, it just means that he’s not going to pitch like a Cy Young Award winner for an extended period of time.
Instead, Yankee fans should be pleased that German now shows the ceiling of being a No. 3 starter instead of a No. 5 or 6 guy for a potential World Series contender. That’s a healthy jump for a pitcher that many fans had given up on coming into the 2019 campaign.