Five innings pitched last night increased Domingo Germán’s total to 113 this season, including one Triple-A rehab start. As the Yankees have insinuated, the 27-year-old appears to be on an innings limit this season. The amount he’s capped at it isn’t quite clear, but one thing’s for sure: the Yankees will need his arm when the postseason rolls around. With a big cushion in the division, the team has an opportunity to protect Germán down the stretch. And understandably, the organization wants to take care of a young arm that previously underwent Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees have just 47 regular season games remaining, which means they’ll need nine more turns through the rotation. There are a couple of off days upcoming this month and four more in September, which could provide opportunities to skip certain starters (hint hint). However, there are potential complications. One is Monday’s doubleheader against Baltimore. Additionally, bad weather can throw a wrench into things.
If Germán made nine more starts, he’d throw about 50 more innings, assuming he maintained his 5.6 innings per start. That would push him to 158 frames in the regular season, which would easily set a career-high for him. Tack on (hopefully) a handful of playoff starts and we’re talking about 170 to 175 total innings. Previously, the righty threw 123 innings in 2014 and 2017. Last year, he only reached 93.2.
I’d guess that the Yankees don’t wish to push him too far past 140 regular season innings. All bets are off in the postseason – winning is paramount. My estimate is total speculation, but I think it’s reasonable. It’s just under 50 additional frames as compared to last year, while still building up and above his previous high.
If my guess is correct, Germán’s limit is swiftly approaching. At his current pace, he’d be up against the threshold within five starts or so. This puts the Yankees in a difficult spot: they only have four healthy starters right now (Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ are the others) while they await CC Sabathia’s return and Luis Severino’s debut. I guess we could throw Jordan Montgomery into the mix too, though we haven’t heard anything about his rehab lately.
The other tricky thing is that the Yankees will need to keep Germán stretched out for the postseason. Obviously, the bullpen will be leaned upon in October, so Germán might only need to pitch three or four innings in those starts. So, he’ll probably need at least a start or two at the end of September in order to have his arm ready. With that in mind, the Bombers either need to temporarily shut him down sooner, shorten his starts, or move him to the bullpen for the time being.
In all likelihood, the Yankees first chance to give Germán a reprieve will be when Sabathia is ready to return. If Sabathia’s initial “couple weeks” prognosis is correct, he could return next weekend. Then, the Yanks could bump “Sunday” from the rotation.
Entering the year, and even in the first couple months of the season, I can’t imagine the Yankees anticipated that they’d want Germán to make a postseason start. Surely, the plan all along was to go with Severino-Paxton-Tanaka-Happ/Sabathia as the four-man October staff. That would have allowed the Yankees to shut down Germán without too much fanfare. And yet, here we are. Hopefully, we get some more clarity on the situation soon.