Domingo German's time in the Yankees' rotation was supposed to be fleeting.
In the end, he may end up being their greatest constant.
German was terrific again Sunday, allowing just one run while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Twins. The victory improved him to 6-1 with a 2.35 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 39/12 K/BB ratio in 38 1/3 innings of work this year.
A healthy rotation at the outset of the season didn’t have room for German in it, though. Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia were supposed to be ahead of him, and top prospect Jonathan Loaisiga challenged German for the title of first man up, even.
But injuries to Severino and Sabathia opened the door, and German has walked through it. The 26-year-old has struck out 25.8 percent of batters faced this year, with a healthy 13.5 percent swinging strike percentage. His strong surface numbers are backed up by a 2.79 FIP and 3.84 xFIP, and nothing about his early success seems fluky.
And while he’s earned the post by his own merit, circumstances will also ensure he keeps it for the foreseeable future. Speaking on Sirius XM Radio on Sunday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team isn’t expecting Severino to be back “until after the All-Star break, in our minds.” Severino hasn’t pitched yet this season due to a Grade 2 lat strain.
Even when he does return, the Yanks might be hard-pressed to remove German from their rotation. He’s got a few more months to continue building his case for why his temporary residency should be extended to a permanent one.
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On the Matz
Things aren’t so great for pitchers across the Big Apple, either.
Steven Matz returned to New York City on Sunday to be examined by team doctors after he’s dealt with a nerve issue in his left forearm for two weeks. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the club decided to take further action when he wasn’t able to throw his usual bullpen session Sunday.
“He’s been able to pitch fine and swing the bat fine,” Callaway said. “At this point today, when it was bothering him, we figured we better go get it checked out.”
Matz has had ups and downs this year but has been largely good, with a six-earned-run, no-outs start against the Phillies dragging down his 3.86 ERA. Without that dud, the southpaw has a 2.31 ERA in his other seven appearances.
Despite missing the bullpen session and being sent home, Matz has not yet been ruled out to make his scheduled start Wednesday. Callaway said the issue was “more irritation than anything,” lending credence to the idea that Matz may just pitch through the annoyance.
An update should come Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.
Call it the attack of the killer B’s, and a Hunter.
Five teams on Sunday romped with the help of grand slams, as the Mariners, Red Sox, Astros, Padres and Cubs all enjoyed one-sided victories on the day. Four of the hitters who hit them -- Jay Bruce, Xander Bogaerts, Alex Bregman, Kris Bryant -- all share the common trait of having a last name starting with B, like the old Astros teams with Biggio, Bagwell and Berkman.
Hunter Renfroe is B-less, but he hit what was the biggest -- B is for biggest -- slam of the day. Trailing by a run in the ninth inning, the Padres loaded the bases with no outs but Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen avoided trouble by striking out Greg Garcia before getting Francisco Mejia to pop out. That's when Renfroe, as a pinch-hitter, attacked an 0-1 Jansen offering, driving it deep to left to send Padres fans home happy with an 8-5 victory.
In Chicago, it was the second in as many days for the Cubs. On Saturday, seldom-used backup catcher Taylor Davis hit a game-tying grand slam that doubled as his first career homer. On Sunday, Bryant’s blast helped the Cubs overtake the Cardinals for the NL Central lead.
Bruce and his Mariners teammates didn’t waste any time in their game, as his salami was a first-inning shot that gave the M’s a four-run lead after five batters. Bruce’s 11 homers are tied for the American League lead through Sunday.
Bregman’s slam wasn’t even his first of the year, after he hit one against the A’s on April 16. It also was relatively old news for the 25-year-old these days, as Bregman now has five homers in his last four games played.
Bogaerts, well, there’s nothing terribly interesting about his slam. Sometimes a grand slam is just a grand slam. (We kid.)
National League Quick Hits: Lorenzo Cain was diagnosed with a left hand contusion after his X-rays came back negative on Sunday. Cain was removed from Sunday's game against the Mets after being drilled in the left hand by a pitch. Fortunately for him and for fantasy owners, there was no structural damage. He's considered day-to-day. … Anthony Rendon (elbow) took batting practice Saturday and could be activated from the injured list when first eligible on Tuesday. It seems likely that he'll be back that day until something unexpected happens. Rendon has played just one game over the last couple weeks and was finally placed on the IL last Tuesday. The Nationals' lineup has been hit hard by injuries, so they desperately need Rendon back. … Starling Marte hit a walk-off three-run home run in Sunday's 5-3, 13-inning win over the A's. Following an RBI single by Adam Frazier which cut that advantage to one run with one out in the bottom of the frame, Marte stepped to the plate against Rodney with a pair of runners on and then proceeded to walk it off with a no-doubt bomb to deep left-center. We shall see if this dramatic game-winner can get his bat going, as Marte is hitting just .211/.250/.411 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 21 games for the campaign as a whole (he did miss time with an abdominal injury). … Cody Bellinger (shoulder) remained out of the Dodgers' lineup Sunday. He's missed two straight starts with a sore right shoulder. The good news is Bellinger did shoulder exercises, played catch on the field and hit in the batting cage without issue pregame, as it appears that Dodgers are just being extra careful here … Zach Eflin allowed just one run on four hits over seven innings in Sunday's 7-1 win over the Nationals. Fine work by Eflin in this one. He struck out five and walked two on the afternoon, finishing up his outing having thrown 108 pitches (72 strikes). Up next on the docket for Eflin, a road outing against the Royals. He will put a 3.00 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 31/7 K/BB ratio (42 innings) on the line in that contest. … Buster Posey went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run and two runs scored as the Giants edged the Reds 6-5 on Sunday. The homer was the latest in a decent stretch for Posey, who had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Saturday but who has pulled his line up to .257/.315/.426 with the good run. The 32-year-old is showing he's still got a little life left in that bat. … Raimel Tapia had a three-run, game-tying triple and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Sunday, helping the Rockies come back to defeat the Diamondbacks 8-7. With the bases loaded and no outs, Tapia stepped to the plate and tied it with a long fly ball that bounced at the base of the left-center field wall, allowing him to race around for his fourth triple of the young season. He came in to score on a Ryan McMahon single, giving the Rockies an unexpected lead. The 25-year-old has been a big addition to the lineup since getting a chance to play in the Rockies' outfield this year, batting .271/.319/.565 with four homers and 15 RBI in 33 games. It's a crowded outfield in Colorado, but as long as he keeps producing he should have a place in it, and your fantasy lineup. … Dodgers signed C Travis d'Arnaud to a one-year contract. D'Arnaud was released by the Mets last week after going just 2-for-23 at the plate following a return from Tommy John surgery. He will be one of three catchers for the Dodgers but will also see some time in the infield and outfield. The Dodgers will only be responsible for paying a prorated portion of the veteran minimum for d'Arnaud, with the Mets being responsible for the remainder of his $3.515 million salary.
American League Quick Hits: Along with the Severino update, Cashman said in the same interview that James Paxton (knee) is expected to be sidelined for a maximum of three weeks. We haven't heard the specifics of the MRI that Paxton had on Saturday, but he apparently received good news. The southpaw has dealt with left knee soreness off and on this season and landed on the injured list after having to depart Friday's start when it flared up. Jonathan Loaisiga will take Paxton's rotation spot. … Khris Davis exited Sunday's game against the Pirates with a left hip contusion after hitting the side wall while making a catch in foul territory. Davis has had to play left field this weekend for the first time this season with the A's having a road interleague series. He initially remained in the game after slamming hard into the wall following a catch in the first inning but was later removed. After the game, the injury was downplayed by Davis and the club, and he should return to the lineup in a few days. … Aaron Hicks (back) will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa this week and could be activated as soon as next weekend. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman revealed the news in an interview on Sirius XM Sunday, although he didn't stay specifically which day the rehab assignment would start. Hicks is currently at extended spring training and his back has apparently responded well. … Asdrubal Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and two runs scored as the Rangers battered the Blue Jays 10-2 on Sunday. Outside of the power -- and even that has been sporadic; Sunday's homer was his first in more than two weeks -- the 33-year-old has struggled to get much going at the dish, batting .232/.302/.495 in 27 games. … Brandon Dixon went 1-for-2 with a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th on Sunday to give the Tigers a win over the Royals. With two outs and two on, Dixon unloaded on an Ian Kennedy pitch to give Dixon his first homer of the season and the Tigers the victory on Sunday. The 27-year-old was hitless in his last three appearances, but this homer helps improve his line to .292/.320/.500 over 24 at-bats. He can be left on the waiver-wire, but this is obviously a very nice moment for Dixon and the Tigers.