The shortened LIDOM regular season has entered the home stretch, with the playoffs beginning in just four short days. It’s been a week filled with activity for the pinstriped representatives in DR. Tigres del Licey was officially eliminated from the postseason race on Monday, so Albert Abreu’s campaign is likely over, but he put together his best start of the season along the way. Miguel Andújar returned to the field for Toros after an inexplicable absence, and Domingo Germán officially ended his woeful season.
There remain no reports – from Toros, the Yankees, or otherwise – describing the circumstances surrounding Andújar’s nearly three-week absence from the field after a very difficult start to the season in November. Nevertheless, he returned to the field on December 15 and has proceeded to put together an inspiring second effort. After his 2-for-11 start, he has gone 8 for 19, raising his slash line to .333/.375/.433 and smashing three signature doubles over the last week. Arguably the most important hit of his big week came in the eighth inning of a close contest against Tigres last Wednesday. With runners on second and third and Toros up by one, Andújar slapped a single the other way for a key pair of insurance runs.
— Toros Del Este (@TorosdelEste) December 17, 2020
Toros is in the driver’s seat for a regular-season championship and a spot in the postseason, so Andújar has at least a few more games to shake off the rust before settling into the offseason. Teammate Gary Sánchez has been a bit quieter over the last week, but he’s kept the good times rolling as well, still slashing a respectable .279/.404/.488 on the year.
Abreu Impresses Down the Stretch
To put it lightly, it’s been a season to forget for the storied Tigres del Licey. They’ll bring up the rear in this edition of LIDOM, less than a year after losing a tight championship series to Toros. The bullpen in particular is to blame: every night, it seemed, the Tigres bats put them ahead only to suffer a monumental collapse in the game’s final few innings. And it was a tough year for the Yankees’ emergent young star with bright blue hair. Deivi Garcia hasn’t pitched in more than a week, and if this is indeed the end of his season, it was only a rather unimpressive six innings of work over three starts that he provided.
Albert Abreu, perhaps the more overlooked of the pair, has had his ups and downs but has shown flashes of the top prospect the Yankees thought they were getting when they parted with veteran catcher Brian McCann back in 2016. Last Tuesday, he put together a brilliant performance in by far his best start of the season. Abreu breezed through the Leones lineup, throwing just 74 pitches over six outstanding innings, surrendering three hits and a lone walk while striking out five. One of his victims was teammate Estevan Florial in the fifth, though Florial got the better of their meeting in the second with a single. Abreu was in control the entire night; it would have been nice, however, to get some run support. He left with the game scoreless, and there it stayed until the inevitable bullpen meltdown in the tenth allowed Leones to escape with a 4-0 win.
Abreu returned to the mound yesterday with results more characteristic of his inconsistent season. Over three innings of work against Estrellas Orientales, he allowed four earned runs on four hits while walking two and striking out four. He also took the loss that sealed Licey’s fate as LIDOM’s worst team in 2020. Out of minor league options, this is a crucial year for Abreu in pinstripes. One hopes that we’ll see the version from last week on a more routine basis.
End of the Road for Germán
The Yankees probably aren’t done making moves this offseason. It’s before Christmas, and there is plenty of time for the team to plug major holes around the roster. But as has been the case over the last four or five winters, it’s obvious that starting pitching is once again the biggest concern. Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton may not return, while Luis Severino won’t be seen until the Northeast weather warms. The team needs Domingo Germán to come back at midseason form after more than a year without throwing a professional pitch.
Maybe it was rust, but Germán didn’t look worthy of a rotation spot in La Romana, let alone in New York. Toros officially dropped him from their active roster this week, so his LIDOM season looks to be finished. The Yankees seem content to retain young, cost-controlled pitching in spite of what’s gone on in Germán’s personal life. That’s a defensible choice from a business standpoint, if not as much from a moral one. But the cold calculus will become quite the difficulty if even the baseball end of the decision proves misguided.
News and Notes
Florial has quietly put together a decent campaign for Leones, especially because it got off to a slow start. He’s now slashing .280/.373/.420 with four extra-base hits and three stolen bases, but best of all, eight walks…Nestor Cortes Jr., recently reintroduced to the Bronx, has proven an important part of a strong Estrellas team on the brink of a playoff berth. Cortes led his outfit to a doubleheader split with Licey on Friday, tossing four innings and allowing one earned run while striking out six in the first leg of the twin bill. Cortes has racked up 21 strikeouts against just five walks in four starts…Another Yankee wearing the green and white of Estrellas helped them hammer the final nail into Licey’s coffin yesterday. Domingo Acevedo got the start and ran up his pitch count to 66 through just three and two-thirds innings of work. But he only gave up one run as Estrellas put away a comfortable 4-1 victory…Aguilas Cibaeñas and Toros lead the pack with 16 wins and 13 losses as each franchise has three games or fewer left to play. Postseason action begins the day after Christmas.