With the middle innings being a borderline disaster for the New York Yankees, red-hot rookie reliever Domingo German could bring balance.
The New York Yankees have clearly had better stretches from their usually-dominant bullpen compared to this past week.
Over the last seven days, New York’s pen is leading the American League with four losses and have posted an ERA of 3.96 — significantly worse than their overall average of 3.04, which is third-best in the Major Leagues.
It has a lot to do with Tyler Clippard‘s anti-clutch gene, Adam Warren‘s injury, Aroldis Chapman‘s injury and the fact that Dellin Betances was the only reliever from the awful 1-6 West Coast swing to not surrender an earned run (min. two games).
With Chapman back in the mix, things will change. We’re talking about arguably the Yankees’ biggest strength and while there is a reason to believe last week was a fluke, there is plenty of worrying to do. Especially when it comes to bridging the cap from the starters to the back-end trio of Clippard-Betances-Chapman.
Warren, one of the most invaluable members of the bullpen, was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Friday with right shoulder inflammation. Until his return, someone is going to need to not only fill the void but provide stable contributions from the middle innings. Domingo German could be that guy.
The rookie right-hander has only appeared in two games thus far but has made the most of it. In 6.2 innings of work, German has yet to surrender a run while only serving up six hits out of 28 batters faced. The 24-year-old also fanned six batters in his latest appearance against the A’s, making him the first reliever in Yankees history with six or more strikeouts and no runs in one of his first two MLB games.
Down in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre prior to his call-up, German held opponents to a .220/.284/.360 slash line while striking out 27 batters over 26.1 innings of work in four starts. One of those starts included an absolute masterpiece against the Columbus Clippers where he fanned 10 batters in seven shutout innings.
Like Warran (until his age 25 season), German has been a starter throughout the initiation of his professional career. His fastball has touched 98.96 mph with the Yankees but usually, it sits at around 91-94 mph when in the rotation. To compliment the fastball, which features some natural sinking action, German’s hard curveball and changeup help him create a relatively dominant presence on the mound.
The rotation spot vacated by CC Sabathia has gone to Luis Cessa, so, in the meantime, it’s time to give some high-leveraged innings to help bridge the gap to the back-end. He clearly has the stuff and build to handle the long relief role.
Although he’s no Chapman or Betances, German does have something that was a prime cause of the 2016 Yankees’ fallout: the ability to throw up zeroes in the middle innings.