Before the start of the season, Domingo German was scheduled out of the Yankees’ rotation. The Yankees signed Carlos Rodon to a long-term deal, and on paper have the best rotation in baseball. Then the injuries continued.
Frankie Montas needed shoulder surgery. Rodan was injured in his forearm, then in his back. Luis Severino drains his latte. When Montas was knocked out during the Yankees’ first day of spring training, it opened up an opportunity for German, who had initially competed with Clark Schmidt for the fifth starting job. The fifth starter job wasn’t a topic of conversation at the end of camp due to injuries to Roden and Severino. German and Schmidt were unnecessarily in the rotation.
There was a time when it seemed plausible that German was never going to be a Yankees starter again. Immortality like the one he achieved Wednesday night, becoming the 24th pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game, seemed impossible.
The Yankees beat the A’s 11-0 as German Esturi Ruiz forced a bunt to third baseman Josh Donaldson to end the game. After the final, his teammates swarmed him on the field. First baseman Anthony Rizzo pumped his fist in the air.
It was an unlikely twist in German’s storyline. He was suspended for 81 games at the end of the 2019 season after physically assaulting his girlfriend during a team practice. Athletic It was reported then. He missed 18 games in 2019 and then missed all of the infection-shortened 2020 season, disappointing some teammates, before convincing the Yankees to bring him back in 2021. Relief pitcher Zach Britton told reporters before German’s comeback that season, “Sometimes you can’t control who your teammates are.”
In February, Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters he was “really excited” about German’s growth both personally and professionally.
“I feel like there’s been a lot of maturation with him over the last couple of years, but even from last year to this spring, he definitely understands where he’s at in his career and the opportunities that are in front of him. He is now,” Boone said. “I think he understands the importance of it and the intensity and excitement of it. He’s in a good place for us now. It’s good to see.”
After signing this offseason, the German took his no. 55 is the only single-digit number left for the Yankees, handing over the jersey to Roden and marking a new start for himself. Changed to 0. He told the “Con las pas lenas” podcast this spring that he battled depression after his 2019 incident, as his actions nearly cost him his family and his life. Since 2019, German has sought advice on how to become a better husband and father, while rediscovering how to become an 18-game winner that season.
When he returned from suspension in 2021, the German struggled on Mt. Early that season he was sent to the alternate base to work on his mechanics. He battled shoulder inflammation and finished with a 4.58 ERA. He bounced back after missing half the year last season with a shoulder injury, but didn’t have enough confidence to be an option for the Yankees in the postseason.
This season, the German has been unpredictable and unreliable.
He was suspended for 10 games on May 16 after being ejected for having illegal foreign substances found on his arm during a road trip against Toronto. He was suspected of using the adhesive when he struck out 11 batters in one outing against Minnesota on April 15. Twins manager Rocco Baltelli was ejected from the game after the umpires allowed the German to wash his hands instead of ejecting him.
There was brilliance from the German despite being overshadowed by the sticky suspension. There was a seven-game stretch from early May to mid-June when German was the Yankees’ second-best starter behind Jerryd Cole. He gave up just two hits in 8 1/3 innings against Cleveland on May 1. He shut out the Dodgers on “Sunday Night Baseball,” going 6 2/3 innings for the Yankees and allowing just one run.
In his previous two outings, German looked like one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball. He allowed seven runs in two innings against Boston on June 16 and 10 runs and four home runs in the last game against Seattle. His ERA ballooned from 3.49 to 5.10 after those games. According to Baseball Note, he is the first pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game after allowing 10 or more runs in his previous outing. After conceding 10 runs to the Mariners, Boone continued to have faith in his opener.
“Especially with Domingo bowling, you’re going to have little hiccups here and there,” Boone said a week ago. “I think his curveball wasn’t that sharp, and it’s been a great pitch for him all year. Command, probably not very sharp by his standards. He’s a good strike thrower and a commanding guy with all three of his pitches. I think that was a little bit. He was there. Not sharp, and then his curveball wasn’t great all year which got him into some trouble.
His curveball was his best all season against Oakland. He posted a 38 percent whiff rate on his curveball and had an 80 percent strike rate in 51 curves. With two outs in the eighth inning, German walked Jonah Pride to make it 3-1. He threw a get-me-over curveball for a called strike. Bride fouled off a curveball and then hit a curveball into the ground for the 24th out. In the ninth, he threw six pitches, five of which were curves. Nineteen of the 27 outs German recorded ended in a curve.
The German’s curveball is his best pitch, and fittingly so. His life is like curveball after curveball. It is the curveball that completes his name.
(Photo: Stan Szeto / USA Today)
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”