At some point in your life, you may have heard people talk about how they have a “type”. Usually, they are talking about a type of person that they are attracted to, well, I have a “type” of fantasy starting pitcher that I just can’t quit. First, they typically lead off with a fastball with some of that sexy premium velocity, followed by a secondary offering that generates a lot of swings-and-misses. These starters usually have some warts, whether they give up too much hard contact or they just don’t have great control. I know they are just not good for me, and they usually end up biting me in the ass (I’m looking at you, 2018 Luis Castillo). This year the one player that I keep my eyes off of is the Yankees Right-Hander Domingo German.
German’s number from 2018 look pretty ugly at surface level. His 5.57 ERA may make some run to the hills, but his 4.39 FIP/3.94 xFIP/3.68 SIERA indicate that there might be some happier times ahead. He is well above MLB average in O-Swing%, Contact%, and SwStrk% which have all shown a strong correlation to his high K%.
If you are familiar with my friends over at PitcherList, they have coined the term “Money Pitch”. A Money Pitch is when a certain pitch has a 40%+ O-Swing, paired with a 15% Whiff Rate, and a Zone Rate of 40% or higher. German’s Curveball would be classified as a money pitch with an O-swing of 41.8%, a Zone% of 41.8%, and a sexy 18.2% Whiff-rate. Hitters have a hard time touching this sexy hook with a .181 average and .157 ISO to pair with that excellent whiff-rate. German is not afraid to throw his Curveball in any count either. His 35.7% usage rate in 2018 would be the third highest among starters (min 60 IP), only behind Zack Godley and Lance McCullers.
He pairs his wonderful Curveball with a blazing 95.2 MPH Four-Seam fastball. Hitters saw his heater pretty well in 2018 with a .226 BA, a .560 SLG, and a .371 wOBA. Some of the poor results can be attributed to bad luck. German had a xBA .189, paired with a xSLG of .405 and a xwOBA of .304. He relies on his fastball only 29.9% of the time and is his second most thrown pitch after his curveball. He ran into some bad luck with it in 2018 but I expect it to rebound in 2019.
He’s free. Do you know what is better than free things? Nothing. His current ADP according to NFBC is 509, behind the likes of Ivan Nova and Mike Leake. That is incredibly cheap for a pitcher who just produced a season with 27.2% K-rate and an elite 15% SwStrk.
There is a reason that German is so cheap, and that is because of his lack of a clear role for him on the Yankees. With the re-signings of C.C. Sabathia, and J.A Happ along with the trade for James Paxton, it leaves no room in the rotation for German. He should secure a spot within the bullpen as a long reliever, and as insurance in case of injury. Unfortunately, it is incredibly unlikely that German will crack the starting rotation early in 2019. German’s stellar curve and good fastball will give him the chance to find success in the pen. He has the Strikeout rate, and ability to go multiple innings which could potentially make him at a lesser version of the likes of Dellin Betances/Josh Hader.
Another wart that plagues the right-hander’s profile is the lack of consistency with his changeup. His curveball and fastball both play but his changeup leaves a lot of room to be desired. He threw it 16% of the time last year and hitters slashed .333/.397/.567 with a 171 wRC+/.407 wOBA. Hitters tattooed the pitch but that was only when they managed to make contact because his changeup generated a 19.7% Whiff-rate which is actually higher than his curve. Hitters average exit velocity of 84.6 MPH is the lowest among his repertoire. The potential is there with his changeup but we have yet to really see it manifest itself. With its 19.7 Whiff-rate, 44.1% O-swing, and 52.6 Zone% it would qualify as a money pitch, however, it was not very cash money in 2018.
Domingo German is the perfect last round dart throw in fantasy drafts, he is incredibly cheap but also has the huge ceiling that you should be looking for at the backend of drafts. He very well could end up being just a bullpen piece for the Yankees all year, but even there he may provide some value for you with his strikeouts. If injuries do occur, which is a very real possibility since Happ and Sabathia are a combined 74 years old and Tanaka only has half a UCL, if given the opportunity in the rotation I like German’s chances of keeping it.
Best Case Scenario – Top-30 SP
Worst Case Scenario – He flounders in the bullpen and you can drop him at no cost.