Domingo German’s Place on the 2021 Yankees

Domingo German. Remember him? Well, he is back. Or is he? Following a bit of drama on social media, I think this is a good time to examine Domingo German‘s place on the 2021 New York Yankees. And if he does have a place, where it is.

(FYI, if you are curious about the social media drama, it turned out to be minor news regarding German’s personal life that the media interpreted incorrectly. Back to the article now)

Background

German’s MLB career has had many ups and downs. He started off on the (then, Florida) Marlins in 2009, playing on the Dominican League team until 2014. In that year, he turned heads for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, even making it to the All-Star Futures Game. Then, everything changed, as he was traded to the New York Yankees as a part of the Nathan Eovaldi trade.

German missed the 2015 season due to Tommy-John surgery, but he eventually made his way to the big leagues in 2017. The Yankees brought German up to relieve and filled that role for just about a year. On May 6th, 2018, German pitched six hitless innings along with nine Ks, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to accomplish a game of that caliber in his first start. Yet, not ready for a starter’s workload yet, the Yankees pulled German, and eventually optioned him back to Triple-A in mid-July.

In 2019, he came back and dominated, posting 18 wins and a 4.03 ERA in 143.0 innings. Things we finally looking up for German, as he had cemented his place as a front-of-the-rotation starter. Or had he?

On September 19th, German was put on administrative leave for domestic abuse. Later, the league suspended him for 81 games, with 63 games left to serve in 2020. So now that he is eligible again, where exactly does he fit on the roster? After all, the team has changed considerably since he last pitched.

Current Pitching Options

To examine German’s spot on the roster, we first need to outline how the starting rotation and bullpen may look.

Starting Rotation (excluding German):

1: Gerrit Cole

2:Luis Severino (when healthy)

3:Jameson Taillon

4:Corey Kluber

5:Jordan Montgomery

Other options: Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga

Bullpen (again, excluding German):

Top options: Chad Green, Zack Britton, Justin Wilson

Middle tier: Darren O’Day, Nick Nelson, Albert Abreu, Nick Nelson

Long relievers: Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga

Closer: Aroldis Chapman

Looking at the pitching depth, it is obvious that the Yankees want German somewhere. After losing Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ in the rotation and Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottovino in the bullpen, German will clearly be on the roster. Now, where does that leave German?

Option 1: German Starts

How the roster would look: German gets slotted in at the 5 over Jordan Montgomery. Monty takes Sevy’s spot while he is injured, then gets moved to the bullpen as a high-caliber option.

Given the organization’s/fans’ love of Monty, I would be a bit surprised if this happened, but it is definitely possible. If you look at objective numbers from each players’ last healthy season, German definitely has the edge. However, Manager Aaron Boone could decide to ride the proven hand, which in this case would be Montgomery, now that German has not pitched in almost two years.

It would definitely be a risk to start German, especially at the beginning of the season. But if he is ramped up properly and can reclaim his 2019 form, the reward would be worth the risk.

Option 2: German Relieves

How the roster would look: German takes a spot as a top reliever, possibly as the 7th inning guy. Monty and Deivi take the remaining starting spots. Justin Wilson pitches in mid-game high leverage situations.

If the Yankees are nervous about German they can decide to move him into the bullpen until he proves his worth. This could be a smart move if they want to use the entire year to ramp up German as a starter. They would be getting value out of Domingo’s skillset while also preparing for next year. In 2022, when Kluber leaves another hole in the rotation, German will step in as a perfect fit.

Option 3: Fight For the 5th Spot

How the roster would look: Until Severino comes back, Monty, German, and Deivi each start a few times. This creates a 6 man rotation (excluding Cole, who still starts every 5th game). When Sevy comes back, the best performer takes the 5th rotation spot, while the others move to the bullpen.

This would 100% be the most intriguing way for things to play out. The drama would start in Spring Training and would continue until possibly June or July. Other names could step into the battlefield as well, but the three guys I mentioned are the most likely competitors. German can prove he can dominate at the same level as two years ago. Deivi can prove he is not too young to compete at a high level. Monty can prove he still has it, despite an injury-ridden career. Three great storylines, but in the end, only one can win. Who will it be?

Concluding Thoughts

No matter when he specifically pitches, German, should find his way onto the Yankees 40-man roster this spring. Furthermore, this problem of having many talented pitchers is a very good problem to have. It could also shed some light on Boone’s competence as a manager, as the options are clearer than ever. Regardless, this will be one of the most interesting battles in camp, and I know I will be watching it closely.

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