In 2019, Domingo German emerged as an unexpected ace for the New York Yankees but his success suddenly was halted when he was suspended for a domestic violence incident.
The suspension cost him the postseason in 2019 and all of a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and questions persisted about how his teammates would welcome him.
After a successful return in spring training, German makes his first regular-season start since the suspension Sunday afternoon when the Yankees host the Toronto Blue Jays.
New York is seeking the series win after posting a 5-3 win on Saturday when Gary Sanchez homered for the second straight game and Jay Bruce hit a two-run single.
German is making his first appearance since a relief outing on Sept. 18, 2019, against the Los Angeles Angels. The next day he was placed on the restricted list for a suspension that lasted 81 games and, before returning to the field, he met with managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner in the offseason and then addressed teammates at the start of spring training.
“It’s so exciting,” German said through an interpreter Saturday. “It’s been a long time and to have the opportunity tomorrow, it’s exciting. At the same time, I understand it’s important.
“Having pitched in the big leagues before, it’s very important to keep in check the anxiety and the excitement that I’m going to feel. So, I want to make sure I do that so I can have a better performance tomorrow.”
Before the suspension, German was 18-4 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 games (24 starts) while throwing 143 innings in 2019. He led the Yankees in wins and had the fourth-most in the majors.
If 2020 were not shortened, German likely would have been back after the All-Star break. Instead, the only recent sample is his performance in spring training when he was 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA in four starts spanning 13 innings.
German was 10-1 in 12 starts against AL East teams in 2019 and the right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.10 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against Toronto.
“I was surprised at how sharp he came in,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I think playing a little bit of winter ball for him was a good thing for him to kind of get back on the mound and get into a little bit of competition.
“Even though it wasn’t a ton, I feel like that was pretty helpful for him and gave him some momentum coming into spring training. He’s been incredibly sharp. I’ve been surprised at the lack of rust.”
Toronto will face German after scoring six runs in its first two games.
Marcus Semien homered and drove in two runs on Saturday as Toronto struck out 11 times and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Blue Jays also experienced some tough moments defensively, including a play when new first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stretched too far on a throw, allowing a run to score.
“He’s good. He’s still a third baseman in my mind. He’s got good glove work over there and he works hard at it every day,” Semien said.
After six Toronto pitchers combined to allow 11 hits and six walks, T.J. Zeuch will make his fifth career start.
Zeuch is 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in eight career appearances (four starts) and posted a 1.59 ERA in three appearances (one start) last season.
Sunday is Zeuch’s fifth career appearance and second career start against the Yankees. In his previous start against the Yankees, he allowed two runs in four innings on Sept. 21, 2019.
–Field Level Media