Sweet 16: Yanks' German atop MLB in wins

Conversation on potential innings limit for righty yet to come

August 14th, 2019

NEW YORK -- There will be a crossroads in the Yankees' future when 's innings total demands attention, at which point the club's braintrust will huddle behind closed doors to determine how best to deploy his electric right arm. Fortunately, they aren't there yet.

German turned in one of his most efficient efforts of the year, firing seven strong frames to become the Majors' first 16-game winner, and the Yankees extended their season-long run of dominance over the Orioles, breezing to an 8-3 victory on Tuesday evening at Yankee Stadium.

"To me, I just went out there with a positive mind and a more detailed plan this time around, looking to get ahead in the count early against those guys," German said through a translator. "I think that was the key tonight."

Since the Yanks opened the season with two losses in a three-game series against the O's, they have rattled off 15 consecutive wins over Baltimore. The 16 total victories are the Bombers' most against a single opponent since they went 16-6 against the Indians in 1960.

“It’s been crazy, and it’s not easy to do by any means," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "I just think our guys have had a really good mindset, no matter who we’re playing, frankly. Obviously we’ve had success against [the Orioles] this year, but I think that’s a credit to the guys’ daily focus, hunger, coming in ready to play and ready to compete."

became the first Yankee since Alfonso Soriano in 2013 to notch three or more hits in three consecutive games. homered, while and each drove in two runs to chase John Means in the fourth inning.

The outburst provided a healthy cushion for German, who snapped a tie with Justin Verlander (15) atop the Major League wins leaderboard.

German has won all four of his starts against Baltimore this season, and that outcome never appeared in doubt as the right-hander showcased three quality pitches in limiting the Birds to solo homers off the bats of Anthony Santander and Stevie Wilkerson, scattering five hits.

"You see a consistency from German," catcher Austin Romine said. "He's going to give you some innings. He's going to pitch well. He was moving the ball in and out, a lot of movement on curveballs, changeups. He can throw anything at any time, and it really seems to keep guys off balance."

More intriguing is how the Yankees plan to handle the next several weeks for German. He has assumed the role of staff ace while filling in for the absent Luis Severino, but Tuesday's effort clicked his season odometer to 120 innings (including four in the Minors).

"I feel really good, really strong," German said. "I feel healthy. I feel like I can pitch for a long time. I just feel that my body is in the right shape and the right place to take on how many more innings are to come."

General manager Brian Cashman has acknowledged that German is approaching a limit, though the team has not made it public -- Cashman resolved that they would not do so with any of their pitchers after riding out the headache that once accompanied Joba Chamberlain's usage guidelines.

German pitched 93 1/3 innings between the Majors and Triple-A last season, and he has never thrown more than 123 1/3 innings in a pro season. Generally speaking, clubs are loathe to increase workload by more than 30 percent in a season, meaning German is already bumping into a danger zone.

"Again, we haven’t set any hard limits on him," Boone said. "We haven’t even honestly gotten deep into those conversations yet. We’ll probably get to a point, as we get some guys back, we may alter some things. But honestly, we feel like he’s strong right now and still has a lot left in the tank."

Boone alluded to the fact that the Yankees could explore skipping German in a turn through the rotation, or scale his innings back in future starts. While German would no doubt prefer to continue pitching without restriction, he is ready to have that conversation whenever the Yanks are.

"I think if you put a plan in place and you get your mind ready for that, you can just go through that," German said. "I think it's about planning accordingly and then executing."