TAMPA — Domingo Germán has pitched like an ace this spring.
After twirling another four scoreless frames on Monday, in a 4-2 win over the Phillies, the right-hander has reached the equivalent of a complete game over three outings.
In those nine innings, Germán has struck out 13 while allowing five hits and walking only one batter. He has yet to allow a run.
Even if he's pitching like he belongs at the top of a starting rotation, Germán isn't allowing his early success to impact his mindset as he moves forward in the competition for a roster spot this spring.
"I see myself as a normal baseball player," Germán said through the Yankees' interpreter. "I just want to keep doing my job and try to win a spot in the rotation. It doesn't matter which one it is."
Plenty can change over the next three-plus weeks leading up to Opening Day. Germán could get shelled over his next few outings. Another spot could open up with an injury. Regardless, Yankees manager Aaron Boone thinks Germán has looked like a "polished" starting pitcher this spring and Monday was no exception.
"Really good again," Boone said. "Early it seemed like he was a little inconsistent with the breaking ball, but really dialed that in and got nasty with that. The changeup was a great pitch for him, the ability to throw it behind in any count ... and the fastball was there, good movement, good velocity."
Before Germán's 81-game suspension for violating the league's domestic violence policy, the right-hander was arguably New York's best hurler. He led the team with 18 wins in 2019, posting a 4.03 ERA in 27 appearances.
That's almost a year and a half ago now, though. That's why Boone's biggest takeaway this spring is how little rust Germán has shown, dating back to his first bullpen after reporting to camp.
"He's just been really, really sharp," Boone said. "This is a really good experienced pitcher. That's what he's shown us every step of the way to go along with a really good three-pitch mix. I maybe expected there to be a little more rust there and I haven't seen that so far."
Germán acknowledged that the key for him so far in Grapefruit League play has been the physical preparation he dedicated himself to entering camp. While he didn't throw a single pitch in 2020 due to the suspension, that doesn't mean he's not ready to rack up the innings in 2021.
"I did prepare myself very well to pitch more than 150 innings," Germán explained. "At the same time, you gotta wait and see what happens in the season."
If you ignore what transpired off the field for Germán, which is quite difficult to do, this spring has been a revelation. Assuming the right-hander can continue to pitch this well leading into April, it seems like he won't just earn a spot in the starting rotation, he'll be a big part of this pitching staff's success.
"When you work so hard and you have the coaches around and somehow they're seeing certain differences and things are working out well for you, you just feel excited about that," Germán said. "It's just a matter of just continuing to be consistent and feeling excited about the results."
- Mike Tauchman Isn't Letting Competition For Yankees' Roster Spot Make Himself Go 'Crazy'
- What Miguel Andújar's Latest Injury Means For the Yankees
- What Clint Frazier Is Working on to Prevent Future Collisions With the Outfield Wall