It hasn’t taken Domingo German long to pick up the beat.
The righthander, acquired from Miami in the 2015 trade of Martin Prado, was one of the nicer surprises of the Yankees’ 2019 season. He went 18-4 — the best record in the big leagues that year — and opposing hitters managed only a .727 OPS against him.
But what had been a great season ended up with him as an eyesore when German was suspended that September for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.
German’s penalty included all of the 2020 campaign, but he was able to return this season, and the pitcher and competitor looks awfully familiar. He shook off a lot of rust in his first two starts this season and, since then, may have pitched even better than he did in 2019.
German is 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA going into Sunday’s start against the Red Sox at the Stadium. In his last eight games, he has gone 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA and the Yankees have gone 7-1 in those games.
"Domingo German can really, really pitch," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "We’ve talked about having command of three pitches and [he] has that. He can two-seam and four-seam the fastball. He can get a strike with a breaking ball in any count. He can get a strike with his changeup in any count . . . When you have that at this level, it lends itself to some consistency and some quality — that’s what we’re getting from Domingo."
In those last eight starts, German is holding batters to a .187 average and .588 OPS. In 42 innings, he recorded 39 strikeouts and allowed only 36 baserunners.
Asked about getting on this run, German replied through an interpreter, "The biggest key has to be the focus and the trust in yourself. Understanding that you cannot be afraid of contact, what you’re trying to do on the mound and not losing that plan."
Regarding the 2019 incident with his girlfriend — something he never was charged for — he was suspended for a total of 81 games and underwent counseling. When he returned to the Yankees in April, he made a public apology and said the couple has remained together and moved past what happened.
"As far as the pitcher, the competitor I was in 2019, I feel the same," German said. "There are things that change. You learn different plans and different things that can make you a better pitcher . . . If you don’t lose your focus, you are able to get into a rhythm when you are pitching.
"Comparing to 2019, I feel proud that I've been able to continue that rhythm [I’d had]. I was out for a while and I am grateful to be back. Now I have to keep it going."
German is looking forward to writing his next chapter in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry on Sunday. In four 2019 starts against Boston, he won twice, held the Sox to a .228 average and struck out 29 in 20 2/3 innings.
"I faced them and been victorious a couple times [because] I trusted my abilities," he said. "I know I can go out there and compete, inning-by-inning and batter-by-batter. I have that ability and I am looking forward to doing that."