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Domingo German Gets Whiffs Like Shohei Ohtani

If you first heard of Domingo German when he threw 6 no-hit innings in his debut start against the Indians, you are not alone. Travis Sawchick posted last month that many hardcore baseball enthusiasts may be like you. Domingo German threw 613 perfect innings Tuesday, but he wasn’t perfect through 613 as Dee Gordon led off the game with a hustle double. He struck out 9 and walked none in a dominating performance.

I want to point out a start that I think is more interesting than either of those, and it occurred last Thursday against the Rays. German was excited after the game to have picked up his first career pitcher win. That’s not why I think it’s interesting. Thursday, Rays hitters swung and missed an astounding 26 times in 91 pitches. That’s the best rate in a start all year, in fact it’s the best rate since Yu Darvish baffled the Rays in July of last year.

Josh Hader got 15 swings and misses in 32 pitches in a relief outing against the Twins. Please appreciate Josh Hader before continuing.

Returning to our regularly scheduled programming, Domingo German now has a swinging strike rate of 15.8%, which ranks second in baseball behind only Max Scherzer.

As Jeff Sullivan put it yesterday in his excellent article about German, “when you sort by swinging strikes, you get a list of extremely talented pitchers.” This is that list, and the pitchers on it have elite stuff.

You can also look at contact rate, where German has the third lowest in the league, behind Shohei Ohtani and Scherzer. One third of the time batters have swung at German’s pitches, they have missed. Now swinging strike rate is just a function of contact rate, specifically the function swing rate*(1-contact rate) = swinging strike rate.

German was never much of a prospect. Kiley gave him a 40 FV in 2015 on the strength of his long healthy track record in the minors, and then he promptly needed Tommy John. He worked his way back to a 40 FV this year. His stuff graded out above average, but now he’s tougher to make contact against than Chris Sale or Noah Syndergaard. I can’t fully explain it. I have some guesses, and interesting things to show you, but I’m still frankly surprised and confused. Read the rest of this entry »