How Domingo German’s suspension affects Yankees rotation


Well, it took MLB over three months of deliberation, but the Yankees know they will be without Domingo German for the first two months of the 2020 season. German’s absence opens the door not only for Jordan Montgomery, but it could also force the club to reconsider trading J.A. Happ.

In one of the most severe suspensions for domestic violence that MLB has ever handed down, Yankees pitcher Domingo German will miss 63 games of the 2020 season. After being placed on administrative leave on Sept. 19, German was unable to take part in the team’s final nine regular-season contests and nine postseason games.

Though no formal charges were brought against the 27-year-old Dominican-native, German’s 81-game suspension for domestic violence is the fourth-longest in baseball history and far exceeds the 40 games that former Cubs shortstop Addison Russell received in 2018.

While the Yankees knew that a suspension was likely, especially considering how long it took the league to conclude, knowing that their winningest pitcher from last season (18 games) will miss some 12 starts, immediately changes the outlook of the starting rotation.

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The most likely candidate to begin the season as the Yanks’ No. 5 in the starting rotation will be Jordan Montgomery. Following his recovery from Tommy John surgery, the left-hander didn’t make his return to the big leagues until Sept. 15, pitching a total of four innings in two appearances — allowing seven hits, three runs, striking out five and walking zero.

During his 2017 rookie campaign, Montgomery showed definite signs of promise. Across 155.1 innings, “Gumby,” as he’s affectionately referred to, recorded a 9-7 record, 3.88 ERA, 1.230 WHIP and 8.0 K/9.

Naturally, decreasing his 1.2 HR/9 will be paramount to his potential success moving forward; however, Montgomery’s curveball is a gamechanger. In his rookie year, Monty’s breaking pitch produced a .175 BAA, .281 SLG and put away 42.8 percent of batters faced.

If his curveball remains as effective as it once was, and his changeup and four-seamer can complement his secondary 92 mph sinker, the Yankees’ final spot in the rotation could be Montgomery’s to lose during Spring Training.

For the time being, though, 13-year veteran J.A. Happ is still on the club’s payroll. Despite the Yanks’ attempts to deal Happ’s $17 million contract (plus another $17M vesting option in 2021), to lessen the burden of $240 million total in team payroll, perhaps it’s a good thing he’s still in tow.

Should Montgomery falter in camp, or simply needs more time to knock the rust off, Happ is plenty capable of securing the backend of the rotation.

Coming off his worst statistical season since 2011 with the Astros, Happ still managed to go 12-8 with a 1.295 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 across 161.1 innings.

Yes, his 4.91 ERA, 5.22 FIP and 1.9 HR/9 were all atrocious, but he seemed to find himself during September finally. In 27.1 innings, Happ lowered his opponents slugging percentage from .497 to .313, allowed just five runs and an impressive 0.66 HR/9. His 4.19 FIP was also his best of 2019.

If Monty shows any signs of not being 100 percent ready, and this Yankee team is serious about competing for a World Series title, then perhaps Happ and his 121 career wins are the best option.

The organization also has top prospects in Deivi Garcia, Jonathan Loasigia and Michael King, which should get an extended look in camp, mainly if Happ is traded between now and then.

Next. Yankees goal in 2020: Win the World Series. dark

However, each comes with a bit of caution. Garcia struggled following his promotion to Triple-A in mid-July (1-3 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 40 IP), Loaisiga was mostly ineffective across 31.2 big league innings (2-2 with a 4.55 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 4.6 BB/9), and King was limited to 46 innings due to extended time on the IL with a stress reaction in his throwing elbow.