New York Yankees Flashback: Early Babe, Late Babe

New York Yankees

Babe Ruth only pitched five times once he became a New York Yankees legend, but one of the games took place on June 13, 1921, as he started, went five, and got the win. He also hit the first pitch he saw that day for the first homer ever into the Polo Grounds center field bleachers. He also homered again, and struck out Ty Cobb in a 13-8 Yankee victory.

On June 13, 1948, the Yanks retired Babe Ruth‘s No. 3 on what would be the Babe’s final visit to the “House That Ruth Built.” The Yanks would beat the Indians, 5-3, and the Sultan of Swat would pass away two months later.

On July 13, 1937, Joe DiMaggio homered in three straight at bats during a double dip in St. Louis against the Browns. The Yanks won Game One 16-9, and the second game would end in an 8-8 tie.

The Yankee fans and David Wells had a reunion among themselves on July 13, 2004, in a classic game when Boomer returned to the Stadium with the Padres on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Wells pitched brilliantly for seven, as did young Javy Vazquez through eight, but the Yankee righthander was on the hook down 2-0 to a Khalil Greene tater and a Terrence Long double.

Then Hideki Matsui and Kenny Lofton (pinch hitting for Tony Clark) homered back-to-back with two down in the ninth to forge the improbable tie. Exciting enough for you? There’s plenty more. The visitors jumped on Brett Prinz for three in the top of the 12th, so it was with a lusty roar that the crowd greeted the emergence of 2001 Yankee culprit Jay Witasik from the San Diego pen in the bottom half.

Ruben Sierra followed rbi’s by Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, and Jorge Posada with a sac fly to close the stirring 6-5 Yankee victory.

New York Yankees: CC Sabathia Continues to Make History

New York Yankees, Yankees, CC Sabathia

The other night New York Yankees‘ CC Sabathia recorded his 1,500th strikeout in pinstripes, his 2,893rd overall. It’s not something many of us envisioned 4 years ago when it looked like he was on the way to an early retirement. Much to the chagrin of the Yankees who had extended him a couple extra seasons 2 years prior, he was right in the middle of a 3-year slump during which he would post a 4.81 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP.

Sabathia’s reinvention since then, while not without precedent, has certainly been something to behold. Since the beginning of 2016, his 3.72 ERA ranks 26th among starters with at least 350 innings pitched. That’s better than Dallas Keuchel (3.93), David Price (3.96), and Marcus Stroman (4.07) to name a few.

Watch Sabathia strike out Michael A. Taylor swinging for his 1,500th K as a Yankee:

CC is not what he used to be. The pre-2013 iteration of “The Warrior” was a monster who racked up more strikeouts than any other starting pitcher from his rookie season in 2001 through 2012. He was also 2nd among all starters in fWAR in that span, bested only by the great Roy Halladay. He is no longer that powerful presence, having lost a good 8 mph on his fastball and now relying on location and guile to record outs.

But it’s working. He’s become an old school pitch-to-contact guy, inducing soft grounders and lazy flyballs to mitigate any jams he finds himself in. In fact, this season he has induced the 2nd highest percentage of soft contact (27.7%!) among the 105 starting pitchers in the majors with at least 60 innings.

He is also 23rd lowest in medium contact (43.1%) and 16th lowest in hard contact (29.2%). For comparison, Justin Verlander has recorded 21.4 % soft contact, 52.1 % medium contact, and 26.5 % hard contact this year.

His teammates and coaching staff will all tell you he’s been a great clubhouse leader. That’s great, but you hear that about a lot of guys and many of them are at the point in their careers where that’s about all they have left to contribute.

CC is more than that. He’s the guy you trust with the ball with the season on the line, as much as Luis Severino or anyone else is. He won’t dazzle you with blazing heat or electric stuff, but more often than not he’ll walk off that mound on the way to another W.

His 2,893 career strikeouts are 17th all time, 3rd among lefties. He’s got a good shot at the Hall of Fame if he were to retire today, and that’s a testament to what he’s done his whole career. But what he’s doing right now is remarkable in and of itself, and boy is it fun to watch.

The Jets Finally Have Their Quarterback, But Will He Start In 2018?

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

One of the biggest questions surrounding the New York Jets now that the 2018 minicamp has begun is, which one of their three quarterbacks will be the starter come September 10th in Detroit?

Josh McCown presents a stable veteran who was our starter last year and played solid gang green football before breaking his hand last December. Teddy Bridgewater has missed the last two seasons because of a terrible knee injury suffered with the Vikings, but looks to jump-start his career with the Jets and has shown signs of progression during camp. And finally we have Sam Darnold, our prized first round pick that fell on to the laps of the Jets this past April at pick No. 3.

Sure, the Jets on paper gave up a ton of assets to the Indianapolis Colts to move up from pick 6 to pick 3, but couldn’t afford to let another year pass by without solving their solution in finding a franchise quarterback.

In 41 seasons since Joe Namath’s departure , only 6 quarterbacks have started at least 40 games for Gang Green. This is why the Jets spent an an abnormal amount of their time scouting and putting together high talent evaluators, including Mike Maccagnan to watch top prospects play in person every weekend leading up to the scouting combine and pro days.

So can Sam Darnold be the answer for the Jets?

Strengths:

At 6-foot-3 , 221 lbs and just 21 years old,  Sam Darnold possesses great size at his position along with a very strong arm and solid accuracy both from the pocket and on the move. Played in a pro style system at USC and is accustomed to dropping back, sitting in the pocket and firing with confidence. Has what I call the “It” factor, meaning, has the swagger needed in the Big Apple , confidence to make his team better and a winner’s mentality .

Weaknesses:

Still very raw and has a tendency to be very reckless with the football. As no surprise with being careless with the football, turnovers were his main concern come draft day. In 14 games in 2017, he threw 13 int’s and fumbled 12 times. Not having a great offensive line and go-to weapons back at USC certainly did not help his cause, but poor on field decisions definitely need to be corrected at the pro level.

What can we expect?

Sam Darnold landed at the right place for a rookie quarterback. Josh McCown is a solid veteran who has played for ten teams during his 15 year NFL career and to me, while not on paper, is the highest paid assistant in the league.

Meaning he’s there to properly tutor and show young Darnold what it takes to be a quarterback at the NFL level both on and off the field. And then there’s Bridgewater who’s on the roster to provide some insurance and brew a solid competition amongst the three quarterbacks.

The Jets also did a great job acquiring more depth at receiver, running back and offensive line. At his disposal, Darnold has many weapons that can truly be a solid core for years to come. Quincy Enunwa comes back after missing last year with a terrible neck injury. Returning is Robbie Anderson and Jermaine Kearse, who both played very solid with McCown under center.

The addition of Terrelle Pryor brings some excitement and lets not forget about last year’s rookies in ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, who come back after a year of learning the playbook . Not to mention adding Isiah Crowell to pair alongside Bilal Powell and the Jets seem to have installed the right pieces for whoever is named starter come game one of the regular season.

The word around Jets camp is that Sam Darnold has grasped the playbook at a quick pace and has been seen making solid throws between defenders. This can only make Jets fans more excited for what’s in store for the presumed future of the franchise. Worst case he sits this season and learns even more from the right tutelage from McCown and Jeremy Bates. Best case he impresses and wins the QB competition at camp and becomes the starter right out of the gate. Either way I believe the Jets have created a solid foundation around their prized signal caller and only time will tell when our franchise quarterback is ready to take us back to the promised land.

New York Giants: Nate Solder Brings One Underrated Aspect To The Team

It’s no secret that New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder has high expectations coming into the season. That’s rightfully so, considering Solder’s status as the highest paid offensive lineman in the league. There’s another aspect to Solder’s game, however, than just pass blocking. It’s an aspect that will be overlooked by many, but in the long term, it will definitely make a difference.

So what metric is this, that Solder performs exceptionally in?

The answer is starts. Solder has played seven seasons and played in every game except for the majority of the 2015 season, when was injured and only made four appearances.

Over those seven years, Solder played a part in the Patriots dynasty and went up against some of the best pass rushers as the main pass protector for Tom Brady. It’s a great achievement to only miss games in one year during that span, while protecting a QB that is frequently targeted for pressure by opposing defenses.

Injuries can derail a team even if they do everything right, and Giants fans are very familiar with that after Odell Beckham Jr’s injury last season. It’s also worth noting that while linemen don’t take big hits like running backs or receivers, the position isn’t safer. It’s actually been dubbed the most dangerous position, which makes Solder’s durability more impressive.

When the Giants made the choice to invest in Nate Solder, they wanted to get a left tackle that would allow them to forget about the position and move onto addressing other roster needs. Part of the reason why that choice is viable is the fact that Solder seems unlikely to pick up an injury and miss time anytime soon. We’ll see during this season whether the investment pays off or not, but whatever happens, it’s reasonable to expect Solder to be on the field for all sixteen games.

Janoris Jenkins Preparing For Bounce-back Season With Giants

In 2017, Janoris Jenkins took a major step back from the previous Pro Bowl version of himself in ’16 with the New York Giants. Last season, his effort was in question as he visibly allowed receivers to beat him and failed to make easy tackles in the open. This was uncharacteristic of the lock-down corner, but the degradation of the locker room aided in Jenkins’s demise and the humiliation of the defense as a whole.

This offseason, GM Dave Gettleman brought in defensive coordinator James Bettcher to overhaul the defensive scheme, signing fresh linebackers to promote a 3-4 defense that dominates the trenches. While the front of the defense was provided support, the secondary still lacks depth and starting talent. Gettleman has been known to leave inadequate aid in the secondary in favor of building through the defensive line.

Being that the secondary is stripped, Jenkins will need to take a bigger role in 2018 and return to his former self. The Giants paid the star corner $62.5 million over five-years with $28.8 million guaranteed. A hefty contract for a player that was only a tad above average for the Rams.

Why was Jenkins’s performance lackluster last year?

Jenkins missed a game in week two of the regular season against the Detroit Lions due to an ankle injury. The ailment never fully healed as he continued through the season despite the injury.

“I came into it [the season] with it, but I didn’t let anybody know until it got worse,” Jenkins said in April.

https://twitter.com/MySportsUpdate/status/929842877760462848?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.bigblueview.com%2F2018%2F6%2F16%2F17469478%2Fny-giants-90-man-roster-preview-will-giants-see-the-real-janoris-jenkins-in-2018

While the injury certainly played a part in his overall level of play, his effort remained abysmal as you can see in the clip above. This was one week after being suspended for not showing up to practice and not telling anyone where he was or what he was doing.

Although his effort and health were below acceptable in the 2017 season, we should expect to see him return to his former self this season.

With Bettcher, Jenkins will play a man coverage role, which is his strength. We all remember his beautiful games against Dez Bryant. Allowing him to play his game and utilize his strengths on the defense will ultimately help him bounce back from a disastrous ’17. Additionally, he will be back to full strength and will start the season with a fresh start on a new defense.

New York Yankees Preview: RHP Ryne Stanek Starts for Tampa Bay on “Bullpen Day”

New York Yankees

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash has been employing an interesting pitching strategy this season, “bullpen days,” with relievers, such as Andrew Kittredge, Sergio Romo and Ryne Stanek starting games, and today’s starter, Ryne Stanek will start on “bullpen day” against the New York Yankees.

“Bullpen day” is pitching strategy the Rays have employed, where, as Tom Shad of USA Today says:

“…they designate an “opening” pitcher who, by design, only pitches a few innings, followed by a parade of relievers. In their first such game this season, in March against the Boston Red Sox, reliever Andrew Kittredge started the game and through [sic] 54 pitches before being replaced in the fourth inning by Yarbrough, who threw 73.”

The bullpen arms facing the Red Sox that day performed ably, though the Rays lost 3-2.  The potent Red Sox offense was held to 3 runs on seven hits with one home run by a combination of relievers Andrew Kittredge, Ryne Yarbrough, Sergio Romo and Chaz Roe.

Cash implemented the unusual, but bold strategy of beginning the game with a reliever on May 19 during the series with the Los Angeles Angels, according to Shad, in order to match up Romo with right-handed hitters early in the lineup:

“The way that their lineup stacks generally speaking is very heavy right-handed at the top,” Cash told The Tampa Bay Times. “It allows us in theory to let Sergio to come in there and play the matchup game in the first, which is somewhat unheard of – up until Saturday anyway. … Then Yarbs can, in theory, have the availability to get deeper in the game.”

“Yarbs” is rookie left-handed pitcher, Ryan Yarbrough, who pitched the bulk of the innings after Romo’s start.  By having Romo start, it prevented Yarbrough from facing the top of the dangerous Angels’ lineup with Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Justin Upton for a third time in the game.

And it worked. Romo pitched 1.0 innings and gave up no runs, followed by a 1 run 6.1 inning performance by Yarbrough and the Rays beat the Angels 5-3.

Today’s starting pitcher, right-handed reliever/starter Ryne Stanek, has been up and down between the Triple-A Durham Bulls and the Rays this season. And yes, he was named after the Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cubs, Ryne Sandberg, according to MLB.com.

When Stanek takes the mound at Yankee Stadium today it will be with the intention of meeting power with power, as the righty will lock horns with heavy hitters Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius at the top of the order.

According to Statcast, Stanek routinely throws the ball 98.2 mph—among the highest velocity in the league—in ’17, he threw 14 pitches of 100 mph or more, the most for any Ray since Fernando Rodney (23) in 2013.

In his last start against the Baltimore Orioles on May 26, Stanek’s maximum velocity was 100.5 mph.

According to MLB.com, Stanek has made four starts to begin Ray’s games and has an overall record of 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 16 innings pitched.