New York Yankees

Yankees moving on to postseason without Domingo German

Yankees pitcher Domingo German will miss the rest of the season as MLB looks into a domestic violence incident against him.

The New York Yankees got to celebrate winning the AL East title on Thursday, but less than 24 hours later came news that threatens to put a damper on those celebrations.

Domingo German, the Yankees team leader with 18 wins this season, will not pitch again in 2019 as the league investigates a domestic violence case against him, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported on Friday. German had been placed on administrative leave by the league on Thursday.

The Yankees have grown accustomed to losing players this year, but this one feels different. The loss of German came suddenly and in an off-the-field incident, and manager Aaron Boone says the club will just have to play through it.

“There’s no denying the importance of Domingo to our team,” Boone said on Thursday. “So there is that element of, we must continue on and continue to, you know, press forward. But it’s also something, you know, that touches our society, unfortunately. So hopefully that’s a forum for players to talk through it.”

The 27-year-old German, in his second full season with the Yankees, was 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 24 starts this season. He came into the year with just two wins in his career and had been a pleasant surprise for a Yankees team that was missing ace Luis Severino.

The good news for the Yankees, though, is that Severino is back and pitching well. He made his season debut on Tuesday after missing the first five months of the season with the combination of a rotator cuff injury and lat strain. He pitched four shutout innings against the L.A. Angels, giving up only two hits while striking out four. His stuff, moreover, looked solid, his fastball reaching as high as 98 m.p.h.

Getting Severino back in time for the postseason helps to alleviate the impact of losing German. But arguably just as important to the Yankees chances in October is the resurgence of James Paxton.

Paxton was acquired in an offseason trade with the Seattle Mariners, but for the first half of the season “Big Maple” struggled getting used to playing in the Big Apple. By the end of July, the tall lefty was just 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA, 13th-worst in the American League among pitchers with at least 15 starts. Since August, though, Paxton is undefeated in nine starts and has the sixth-best ERA in the AL at 2.50. He’s holding opponents to a .168 batting average in that span, behind only the Astros’ Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, and is one of only five starters with a WHIP under one.

German had a shot at becoming the first Yankees’ 20-game winner since CC Sabathia in 2010, but his last two appearances reveal a lot about how the Yankees were planning to use him in October. He was demoted to the bullpen where he was used as a long reliever, a role he was excelling at. He didn’t surrender a run in 6.1 innings over his last two games, striking out seven while allowing only three hits.

That threat to opponents in the postseason is now gone, leaving the Yankees relying more than ever on their top-four pitchers of Paxton, Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ. They won their first division crown since 2012 on Thursday, and how those four perform in the playoffs will go a long way toward determining whether they win the club’s first World Series in a decade.

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