What to Do with Domingo German?

Domingo German has pitched well, but does he place in baseball?

The Yankees, who were expected to be a juggernaut offensively, have been carried by a dynamic pitching staff. While Gerrit Cole has led the charge in his campaign to win his first Cy Young Award, the likes of Corey Kluber and Jordan Montgomery have played significant roles in their success as well. Kluber landed on the IL after shoulder issues arose from his start after his no-hitter. Montgomery struck out 11 in his last start against the White Sox in a potential postseason showdown. And yet, the Yankees’ second-best pitcher this year, has been Domingo Germán. His season has been riddled with controversy, deservedly so, and now it leads to the question, what to do with Domingo Germán?

All statistics reflect the morning of Thursday, May 27th. They will not reflect Germán’s start on Thursday.


Off-Speed First


Germán relies heavily on his curveball, and he always has in his time in the big leagues but this year he’s throwing it less. From 2019 to 2021, his curveball usage dropped by three points. Yet using it less has made it more effective. His RV/100 in 2019 on his curveball was -.2 and is now -2.8. He’s sacrificed some swings on the pitch to get the pitch over for a strike more. His called strike rate has gone up by two percentage points while his SwStr% has dropped by three points. He’s thrown it on the first pitch 38% of the time which is above his 33% usage rate. He’s throwing it for a first-pitch strike only about 57% of the time but he has yet to give up a hit on a first-pitch curveball. 

Germán’s curveball has only given up five hits on it this year, all of them singles with three of them coming on the ground. By RV from Savant, Germán’s -6 value is the third highest on a curveball this season. The pitch has also registered a .209 xwOBA which is good for 22nd in the league in curveballs with at least 25 plate appearances. His teammate Jordan Montgomery has the eighth-lowest xwOBA on his curveball this year and an RV value of -5. The two have combined to be one of the best curveball tandem starting pitchers in baseball. Limiting the hard contact against the pitch and throwing it for strikes has helped set up Germán’s other off-speed pitch, the changeup. 

Germán has increased the changeup usage this year by about six points and has been rewarded for its increase in usage. His changeup appears to be on the verge of some SSW with a spin direction deviation and a lot of arm side movement with little vertical movement. His changeup has registered a little more movement on the pitch. By RV, it’s been his second most valuable pitch at -2 and is at roughly the same RV/100 as his sinker. The reason for that is he has a 20% hard-hit rate against the pitch, only eight balls have been hit above 95 mph against him. The hitters have a .500 BABIP when they hit the ball over 95 mph but just .250 when they hit it under .250. Limiting hard contact for his changeup is a big key to success for the Yankees pitcher. 

Unlike most pitchers, Germán’s willing to use his changeup against right-handed hitters throwing it 60 times this year to righties. The game plan on the location of the pitch doesn’t change when he throws to righties versus lefties. He is going to the right-handed side of the plate towards the corner to both righties and lefties. Normally, when you throw changeups to right-handed hitters you want to stay away from the right side of the plate because hitters can run into barrels even when they expect a fastball due to the attack angle of the hitter and approach angle of the pitch, which has hurt Germán with two home runs against his changeup this year, but the plan is working for the most part. He just needs to improve the results with his fastball. 


Troubles with the Fastball


While Germán has gotten incredible results on batted balls with his curveball and changeup, the same cannot be said for his fastball. While his fastball has gotten a near 32% CSW and a greatly improved 26% whiff rate on the pitch, it’s still giving up a near .800 xSLG on contact. He’s given up seven home runs this year and four of them have come against the fastball which is fueling the issue. Two of those home runs came in the same start against Houston with Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley hitting home runs off him. Only given up one home run in his three starts since then on the fastball. One might think that maybe he is throwing too many fastballs in the zone and thus hitters are picking up hits on those fastballs. Anyone who thinks that is exactly right. Hitters have put 21 fastballs in play on his fastballs in the zone. 11 of them have been hits. That comes with a trade-off though as of his 19 swings and misses on his fastball this year, 16 of them have come on fastballs in the strike zone. 

He’s only allowed 25 batted balls against his fastball this year, which is great. Missing bats is important for success and his 11% swinging strike on the pitch is a near two percent increase. As mentioned, most of his fastball swings and misses have come on fastballs in the strike zone. Yet the xSLG on fastballs in the zone .963, which is 400 points above the average xSLG. It’s an issue that he has to address. He doesn’t start hitters with a four-seam fastball a lot and he’s seen such great success since he came back from his trip to the alternate site that you don’t want to adjust too many things and it has improved as he’s gone about his starts in May. 

Part of the issue for Germán is that he doesn’t get his fastball high enough in the zone and thus just leaves a lot of his fastballs over the heart of the plate. His 83% spin efficiency on his fastball doesn’t jump off the page as a fastball that should be thrown up in the zone but given where he locates his curveball and changeup, he should use it up there more. To achieve that, he should either get his hand behind the ball more to get more spin efficiency and that’ll help the ball from dropping into the heart of the plate as much or he should just improve his command by doing drills locating the pitch up in the zone more. I lean towards the second option because his sinker and changeup have a hint of SSW and it’s effective for him and I don’t want him to get away from that and making that change of getting behind the ball more could take away from those other pitches. He and his teammate Jameson Taillon face similar issues. However, Germán’s command is already a strength of his, and that makes that second approach even more likely to happen. 


Elite Command


Coming into the day, Germán ranked 10th in baseball in BB%, just behind Jacob DeGrom (min 40 IP). He’s registered the highest zone% of his career so far in the season and gets ahead in the count consistently with an above-average first-pitch strike percentage. He comes at hitters with a variety of looks early in the count. 

First pitch Strike Table

Giving the hitters a variety of looks for strikes early in the count will set you up for success as you move deeper into the game. It’s part of why pitchers who can keep hitters off their best pitch work deeper into the game. That’s something that the Yankees pitcher does well, keep hitters off the curveball by not making it easier for them to figure out his sequences. 

While his fastball gets thrown in the middle of the plate a lot, he’s able to avoid it with his off-speed pitches consistently as well. He keeps his changeup hovering around the zone and just out of it to get hitters to chase at that pitch and other offerings. He keeps his pitches looking like strikes for a long time and that helps them chase pitches out of the zone. He has a 91st percentile chase rate this year and while hitters do make contact above the average amount when they do chase, they are still swinging and missing out of the zone a lot. Germán uses all of that to his advantage. 

His ability to get hitters to chase out of the zone and also set them up with strikes has led to the 15th best ERA in the AL entering the morning of Thursday, May 27th. He’s pitching well this year and yet it’s tough to say that because of what he’s done off the field and rostering him on your fantasy team can feel conflicting at times. 


Unavoidable Issues


Domingo Germán was suspended from the 2019 postseason and 2020 season for a domestic violence incident. I am not going to go over the details of the incident but when discussing his season and him as a pitcher, I can’t do that without discussing this issue and the complications of it in the world of sports. It is easy to say that Germán should never be allowed to play baseball again for what he did but studies show that’s not an adequate solution and can put the victim in more danger. That’s a reflection of a justice system in America that hasn’t shown to value anybody who isn’t a straight white male. 

So now it’s time to answer the question, what to do with Domingo German? First, I think it’s important to say that the victim’s safety is the most important thing. If she is okay and safe, and him being employed by the Yankees helps keep her safe, then that’ll have to do. For German, perhaps baseball can be his path to retribution and reflection. He can learn to be a better person and move forward from his terrible actions. 

It’s an imperfect reality and solution. You can feel ok with yourself if you roster him on your fantasy team or just want him to pitch well so your team succeeds, fantasy or otherwise. It’s okay to say that he’s pitching well this year while acknowledging that he comes with a flurry of issues that go beyond just what he did and represent sports culture as a whole. You can also root against him and feel okay as well. After the news of Mickey Callaway being ruled ineligible for two years, baseball has a lot of work to do on how they view women in this game. Germán’s issues are part of that conversation. 

For now, I pray that the victim is okay and safe. I also pray that Germán finds some way to redeem himself and make himself a better man. If that path is through baseball, then so be it. That’s what we should do with him, hope and pray he has learned from his actions and becomes better. 


Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Jacob Roy (@jmrgraphics3 on IG)

Max Greenfield

Former Intern for the Washington Nationals, now a Going Deep Writer analyzing the next possible breakout pitcher.

8 responses to “What to Do with Domingo German?”

  1. American Troutfisher says:

    “For German, perhaps baseball can be his path to retribution and reflection.” You must’ve meant to say “reflection and redemption” or some such.

  2. Veto Corleone says:

    I’d love if there were a way in which we could protect women and stop domestic abuse without forever defining a person by their worst decisions or qualities. Abusers were often abused themselves and at the very least have serious issues of their own. I’d like for there to be a path to redemption. The issues at hand are serious and must be addressed, but I think our usual ways of dealing with it are misguided and create problems of their own. I’m not sure what the right answer is honestly or if we are even capable of arriving at it. I’m happy that more people are working to protect women and fight injustice, I just wish things weren’t so black and white all the time. Life’s not that simple. I hope our understanding evolves, but maybe this how things have to be right now in order to progress. In the meantime I try to be nuanced and tread that line between empathy and pragmatism. I hope German changes for positive and that further abuse is prevented regardless of if he does.

  3. Anonymous says:

    After reading the first 80% of the article I thought it was about “what to do” with him in the context of fantasy baseball. As in, to buy high or sell high etc.

    This article is very strange. As you said, analyzing his performance and his actions off the field should be seperate. Why include how well he’s pitching in an opinion piece about morality?

    • Veto Corleone says:

      Yeah the article couldn’t decide if he wanted to be. Is this an exploration of social and political issues as it relates to MLB and how to think about players alleged as abusers, or is it a statical profile on a pitcher in order to assess their value?

      I gathered that German’s results are legit. He has good stuff and some room to make meaningful tweaks. I dont think hes a sell high. He’s an effective arm worth keeping around if having him on your roster.

      The moral qualms about having him on your fantasy team seems strange. Your fantasy teams have 0 impact on him or the issue at hand regardless of rostering him. Should we drop turner for going on the field with covid? Or refuse to roster astros because they cheated? The connection seems weak. Should we start doing background checks on all our players and only roster those players whom haven’t done anything we morally object to? Or maybe I only keep minority players because baseball is too white? Or refuse to draft hader for making a racial slur on twitter once? Your fantasy team isn’t a political statement and not every activity and choise need require a soul searching evaluation of your moral compass. That is an issue for real teams in real life. I just wanna play fantasy baseball. If you don’t like a guy, get rid of him. I don’t want guys on my team for far pettier than that, believe me. Lets save the moral crises for situations that actually matter.

      • txsock says:

        Can this just be left as a fantasy site, and leave out whatever that last section was? If someone wants that subject matter, there’s a million places to go for that. And most of it was nonsense anyway. “It is easy to say that Germán should never be allowed to play baseball again”, he made a horrible mistake, but is now married to that same woman. But yeah, let’s ban him for life while Aroldis closes out games for the same team. MLB just hired the first female GM in major sports but “baseball has a lot of work to do on how they view women in this game”. There’s always going to be idiots in any large group of people, but go check out the rap sheet for NBA/NFL and compare to MLB.

        The portion of the article that actually pertains to fantasy baseball was good though, stick to that.

        • STL says:

          Well said. I did not know he married her. That means a lot & if it happens again, then that’s her own fault.

  4. Viceroy says:

    This article isn’t a great look. Despite the sub header, the moral quandary of German is treated as a footnote, and it kind of comes across as mansplaining. I think this type of article would be better if it had looked to people trained and experienced in matters of domestic violence, and began the article letting the reader choose whether to analyze the baseball value of German given what is known about abuse.

  5. A white man who has done nothing wrong to deserve ridicule says:

    Just my two cents….

    I am tired of reading about how terrible white men are and how the system is only for them, which is obviously untrue to anyone who cares to research society themselves. (Instead of borrowing ideas from their communist “professors”. Please do not become Fangraphs as this site was a breath of fresh air until I read the second half of this article. Politics only loses viewers/subsribers. It doesn’t gain any.

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