With the MLB season on “pause,” there’s a chance Domingo German may miss the majority of the New York Yankees’ 2020 campaign.
Before spring training was officially canceled last week, the New York Yankees were expecting to be without Domingo German for the first two months of the season.
As a result of his 81-game suspension for domestic violence, the 27-year-old hurler will be forced to miss the first 63 games of the regular season. Since the right-hander served 18 games of his suspension in 2019, he would have been eligible to return to the mound on June 5.
With the MLB on hiatus, German’s return date to the major leagues could be pushed back into the last few months of the season.
Initially, the Commissioner’s Office had announced that the 2020 campaign would be delayed for just two weeks. But, it’s becoming more likely that the start of the season won’t happen before the start of May.
Following the latest recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we won’t see any baseball games being played for the next eight weeks. Based on that timeframe, it seems very unlikely that 162 regular-season games will be played in 2020.
Prior to this announcement from the CDC, most executives around the league believed that the regular season could be pushed into October to make up for all the games that would be postponed. For German, this plan would have allowed him to still make a significant number of starts in the majors this season.
But based on the CDC’s recommendation of no public gatherings for eight weeks, there’s a very good chance that Opening Day could be pushed back to June 1. If that occurs, German would be first eligible to return to the majors on Aug. 16 against the White Sox.
Even after his suspension is lifted, the hard-throwing hurler will still need to be sent out on a conditioning assignment before he could return to the majors. For the sake of this article, let’s say that German stays active throughout his suspension and requires just three starts in the minors before making his season debut.
At that pace, the Dominican native would likely be on track to take the mound for the Yankees just before the end of August. If the regular season was extended into October, then the Yankees’ starter would probably be able to make somewhere between five to 10 starts before the playoffs.
Furthermore, starting on June 1 would undoubtedly signal for a shorter schedule in 2020 as well. Historically, there hasn’t been a shortened season in the MLB since there were 144 games played during the 1995 season. However, there’s a chance for this season to be one of the shortest throughout the history of baseball.
Currently, the shortest season in MLB history was the 1981 campaign. During that season, teams played between 103 to 111 games due to the mid-season players’ strike.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, there are a few general managers who are even preparing for the start of the season to be delayed until closer to July.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred having conference call at noon advising all teams to shut down their facilities. Several GMs are bracing for delay now as late as July
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 16, 2020
If the regular season were to start on Canada Day (July 1), then German would only be able to make a few starts in the major leagues this season. Since the 6-foot-2 righty will be forced to miss the first 63 games of the season, he would be allowed to first return on Sept. 14 against the Rays.
Even if the season continues into October, German would likely be limited to as few as five starts this season. As a result, there’s no guarantee that he would be provided with a spot on New York’s playoff roster in 2020.
During German’s first eleven starts of the 2019 campaign, he produced a 3.43 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, 1.04 WHIP, .204 OPP AVG, 25.4% strikeout rate, 6.5% walk rate and a 36.9% hard-hit rate. Unless he’s able to replicate that dominance during his limited outings this season, he’ll likely be left off the Yankees’ playoff roster.
Regardless of whenever the 2020 postseason begins, the Yankees just can’t afford to have a pitcher in their rotation who’s barely faced live hitters throughout the season. Barring any more visits from the injury bug, the Yankees should also have a healthy pitching rotation for their playoff run.
If healthy, Gerrit Cole, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and likely Jordan Montgomery are all expected to be featured within the Yankees’ pitching rotation during the playoffs. So, a condensed 2020 campaign could seriously derail any chance of German making an impact for the Yankees this season.
With a handful of New York’s top pitching prospects nearing their major league debut, German could also be forgotten about if he struggles once his suspension is over. With just one minor-league option remaining, this season was supposed to be the year where he would prove himself worthy of staying at the major-league level.
Now, it seems like German might not have a future with the Yankees’ organization. Since he’ll be entering his age-28 season in 2021, time is starting to run out for the right-hander to establish himself as a quality starting pitcher.
For the sake of German’s career, he’ll have to remain hopeful that this crisis will pass after the recommended eight-week hiatus. If not, then he might not be a part of the Yankees’ organization after the 2021 campaign.