Domingo German gets second shot to stick in Yankees’ rotation

Domingo German is back for another shot at sticking in the Yankees’ rotation.

The right-hander will be recalled from the alternate site and will slot back into the rotation Thursday for the series-opener in Cleveland, manager Aaron Boone said Wednesday before the Yankees’ 4-1 loss to the Braves at the Stadium. After beginning the season with two rough outings, German is hoping to show improved fastball command to deliver more of an impact in another go-around as the fifth starter.

“One of the things mechanically I wanted to do [at the alternate site] was prevent myself from overthrowing and therefore losing my lane and falling towards one side of the mound,” German said Wednesday through an interpreter before the Yankees hosted the Braves. “I think that’s one of the reasons why the command wasn’t as sharp with the fastball. By doing that, it allows me to create the lanes I want and be ahead on the count”

German said he met with pitching coach Matt Blake after his last start with the Yankees, on April 10, and pinpointed fastball command as his biggest focus to work on at the alternate site. The Yankees will get an up-close look at his progress Thursday. Jordan Montgomery and Gerrit Cole each will get an extra day of rest before following German in Cleveland.

Domingo German
Domingo German
Getty Images

Coming back from his 81-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic abuse policy, German had impressed during spring training to win the fifth starting spot out of camp. But he wasn’t able to carry that success over into the regular season, giving up seven runs in seven innings.

The Yankees optioned German to the alternate site after his last start because they didn’t need a fifth starter for their next stretch of games and instead opted for an additional bullpen arm in Albert Abreus.

“You take it as easy as you can take it,” German said. “They explained the plan to me. I went down there and worked on the things they wanted me to work on. They also explained to me that eventually I was going to come back and pitch again up here.”

Thursday will mark the third of 13 games in 13 days for the Yankees, so German’s return became necessary. He last threw Saturday against the alternate-site Phillies, tossing five innings and giving up one unearned run on two hits while throwing 65-70 pitches.

“I feel like he’s gonna be a really good pitcher for us,” Boone said. “Like with our other starters, I really do have a lot of confidence with where he’s at and how he’s throwing the ball and what he’s capable of.”

Entering Wednesday, the Yankees’ rotation had a 4.35 ERA through 16 starts — a number that rose to 5.66 if Cole’s four starts were removed. Bringing back an improved German from the alternate site would be a big help to a rotation that has been short on length and quality starts beyond Cole and Montgomery through the early going.

In his first two starts of the season before being sent down, German allowed three runs in three innings against the Blue Jays and four runs in four innings against the Rays. He was crushed by the long ball, giving up two home runs in each start.

German was susceptible to home runs even before his suspension. In 48 appearances between 2018 and 2019, he gave up 45 homers.

“You’ve got to give credit to the hitters,” German said. “Big league hitters, they’re the best in the world. They make adjustments just like we do. When they find a good pitch to hit, they’re going to hit it.”