Much to Rocco Baldelli's and John Schneider's dismay, I regret to inform the Twins and Blue Jays that Domingo Germán's hands are now clean of his recent stickiness allegations.
Somehow, some way, Germán returned from a 10-game suspension taking extra care to apply a level of rosin that would satisfy all parties and, as a result, his on-field performance for the Yankees ... improved on Sunday Night Baseball against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maybe the Yankees' internal stickiness policing has done them a world of good, uncovering that Germán's tacky security blanket may never have been necessary in the first place.
On Sunday night, an often-pumped-up Domingo, refreshed with vim and vigor, was allowed to push through the 80-pitch threshold. Aaron Boone thought it was perfectly alright to allow the red-hot starter to make a mistake, veering 180 degrees from the way he'd treated Germán against Cleveland in early May. The right-hander rewarded him with 6.2 mostly mistake-free innings, as the Yankees shrugged off a JD Martinez homer to triumph in the late innings. The outing lowered Germán's WHIP in his past seven starts to 0.90, alongside just 25 hits in 41 innings. After his tack ban, he's gone 13 innings with 11 hits and five earned runs allowed, four of which came while managing expectations in a blowout win in Seattle.
Some rivals will never be satiated, and will choose to go to bed at night believing Germán is still cheating, was always cheating, and will never stop cheating. They are allowed to be insane. That is their right.
But still, it's fairly vindicating for Germán and the 2023 Yankees that, after umpires objected to the amount of rosin he used and attempted to bestow the "stickiest hands we've ever felt" crown upon his head after it had previously been given to Max Scherzer, he has managed to pitch just as well after entering a new era.
Yankees starter Domingo Germán survived sticky stuff ejection to dominate vs Dodgers
Personally, I must admit I've been anti-Germán for years. The right-hander addressed the Yankees and asked for forgiveness at the start of the 2021 season after his 2019 postseason and 2020 campaign were wiped away by a domestic violence policy suspension, but the forgiveness he sought isn't automatically granted. At the time, teammates like Luke Voit were trepidatious about looking at the right-hander the same way they once had.
"Obviously, he's a friend, so we'll be there for him. But we don't condone it. He messed up, and a lot of guys look at him differently now.- Luke Voit, ESPN
But I believe in second chances, and the guy deserves a second chance. I hope he's taking the right steps to do what he needs to do better with his family, and I'm grateful that he came and apologized yesterday to us and to the organization. He needs to grow up and be a man. And I think he's finally learning that he's [going] in the right direction."
Just three years ago, there was seemingly endless drama surrounding Germán's name. He was a fifth starter stuck in a spiral. It's difficult to recall now, but he even retired from baseball mid-pandemic in a cryptic Instagram post before recounting his words. I will never claim that someone cannot be forgiven, and I will also never claim to know as much as the men in the locker room who rub shoulders with Germán. I've only ever noted that it seemed the Yankees were going to great lengths to protect the roster spot of someone who, through a combination of on-field play and proportional off-field damage caused, didn't appear to deserve it. The Yankees seemed suddenly determined to "never lose an arm" despite losing countless arms before and since, like Garrett Whitlock. Based on the way his teammates reacted in 2021, they didn't seem confident in the team's decision, either.
If the Yankees had been wrong here and had mis-allocated pitching resources, it wouldn't have been the first time. Who was I to trust them, with so much baked-in moral dilemma involved?
In 2023, though, a renewed Germán has looked like far more than just a fringe starter or swingman. His home run bugaboo has been corralled without the live ball, down from 1.9 in 2019 to a full-season low 1.3. He's held down a rotation spot in a quintet that's been far more in flux than anyone anticipated entering the season. And, yes, when everyone decided his success had been cheating-fueled smoke and mirrors, he decided to continue to unleash his trademark curveball, which ESPN noted on Sunday night has the highest whiff rate of any curve in baseball this season. The Dodgers start was the highlight of Germán's season, a campaign I'll readily admit I didn't want him to be having in New York.
I'm not in the locker room. I don't know how the man has or has not changed. But I know the Yankees believed him to be a valuable piece, and were undeterred by recent reports of his sticky hands being the only difference between his success and failure. And I know that I've been thinking of one thing, while the Yankees have been thinking of another. Sunday night's result proved that their assertion of his on-field value was far from baseless.