New York Yankees: Championships Aren’t Won in August – October Looms

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

As horrible of a feeling it is for the New York Yankees to get swept out of Fenway, the season is not over. The Yankees are now 9.5 games out of first place in the AL East after the horrendous and heart-wrenching series in Boston. But the bright side is, it’s only August and not October. The Yankees and Red Sox could very well be headed on a crash course to once again meet in the postseason. This past 4 game series in August will mean nothing at that point, and it will be anyone’s series to win.

There’s hope ahead for the New York Yankees:

The Yankees are now in a stretch of 26 straight games facing teams with .500 or less records. These are the games they have to take care of. With six games left against Boston in September, the Yankees can still have a chance to catch them in the AL East standings, as long as they take care of business with the subpar teams. Anything can happen late in the season, and Boston can start to slide late in the season.

The Yankees have obviously struggled of late, and they will have to start getting back on track to boost their confidence going into late season and postseason.

With a small 2.5 game lead over Oakland for the first wild card, the Yankees need to get on a hot streak and stay ahead of them. Having home field in the Wild Card, if they lose out on the division will be huge. Once the playoffs come anyone can make a run, whoever gets hot and stays hot.

Once the playoffs roll around, the embarrassment of a series for the Yankees at Fenway in August won’t mean anything. The slate will be wiped clean, and they will only look to take care of business in front of them. They will have Aaron Judge, a MVP candidate and easily a huge piece to the Yankees team, fully heathy, looking to make a run to the World Series, as they continue the “Chase for 28.”

New York Mets Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds (8/6-8/8)

The New York Mets welcome in the Cincinnati Reds after dropping three out of four games to the Atlanta Braves. The Mets offense struggled once again as they did not score more than four runs in any of the games. The Reds come off three straight losses in Washington against the Nationals. The Reds took two out of three from the Mets earlier this season.

Probable Pitching Matchups

(8/6, 7:10 PM) Homer Bailey (1-8, 5.87 ERA) vs. Noah Syndergaard (6-2, 2.98 ERA)

(8/7, 7:10 PM) Sal Romano (6-9, 5.12 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (2-7, 8.23 ERA)

(8/8, 12:10 PM) TBD vs. Jacob deGrom (5-7, 1.85 ERA)

Will deGrom Ever Get a Win Again?

Jeff McNeil had a terrific series against the Braves. He put together his first four hit game and had five hits in the series. McNeil has also showcased his powerful bat to all fields and is a solid defender at second base. The Mets are way out of the postseason picture and with the trade of Asdrubal Cabrera, the rest of the season will be used as a tryout for McNeil. The Mets would certainly be happy if he could be their everyday second baseman so they can focus their money elsewhere in the offseason.

Jacob deGrom has dominated during day games over his career and he will take the mound for one in the last game of the series. It has been over a month since he last pitched during the day. deGrom has pitched to a 1.99 ERA during day games over his career and combining that with his 1.85 ERA this season should lead to another terrific start from the Mets ace. The only problem is will the Mets even score to support him?

The Dark Knight Returns

After starting the season 3-15 and firing their manager, the Reds have gone on to play respectable 46-47 baseball since Jim Riggleman took over as manager. The Reds have very promising pieces in Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez, but their starting pitching is far away from supporting their team. Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen have shifted nicely from starters to relievers and are also pieces to build on for the Reds future.

Surprisingly, the lowest ERA by a Reds starter is Matt Harvey’s 4.79. The former Dark Knight is not going to pitch against the Mets in this series, but it will be his first time back to Citi Field since he was traded in May. The Mets traded Harvey for Devin Mesoraco and both player adapted to their new homes nicely. The Mets will give Harvey a video tribute and it will be interesting to see how the fans greet him.

Matchups to Look Out For

Scooter Gennett vs. Jacob deGrom: 5-16 (.313) 2 Doubles, Home Run, Walk, 4 Strikeouts

Eugenio Suarez vs. Noah Syndergaard: 4-12 (.333) Strikeout

Jose Reyes vs. Homer Bailey: 2-10 (.200) Double, Walk, Strikeout

Brandon Nimmo vs. Sal Romano: 2-8 (.250) Triple, Walk, 4 Strikeouts

Interesting Stats

Eugenio Suarez vs. LHP in 2018: 35-92 (.380) 6 Doubles, 8 Home Runs, 18 Walks, 20 Strikeouts

Noah Syndergaard vs. The Leadoff Hitter in Any Inning in 2018: 25-81 (.309) 6 Doubles, Triple, Home Run, Walk, 23 Strikeouts

New York Giants Vs Cleveland Browns: 3 Things To Watch For

The New York Giants will take on the Cleveland Browns in their first pre-season game of the season on Thursday. Reports have already emerged with first-round pick Saquon Barkley stating he wants to enjoy as many reps as possible in his first action as a proffesional football player.

Of course, managing his work load and avoiding injury will be a major priority, but getting him used to the speed and power of an NFL game will only benefit him come September.

Despite Barkley’s desire to play, there are various position battles we must be wary of this pre-season.

1.) The New York Giants safety position battle

One of the major competitions will be at the safest position, as there’s a world of uncertainty clouding the free safety spot. Third-year men Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams seem to lead the pack, with former Titan Curtis Riley close behind.

It will be exciting to see the three battle it out in an attempt to solidify their presence next to star strong safety, Landon Collins.

Thompson struggled in 2017, managing just one interception and 61 total tackles over the course of the entire season. He has apparently looked better in camp and will present the team with a serious decision in regard to his playing time moving forward.

Adams on the other hand has always been a consistent safety, playing at an average level most of the time. He is the safer option, while Thompson offers more of a big-play threat. Riley is a former cornerback turned safety. He has shown signs of life at safety and seems to be making the transition well. This will be must-watch heading into Thursday’s game.

2.) Ereck Flowers at right tackle

One of the more concerning players on the Giants’ roster is right tackle Ereck Flowers. After moving from left tackle, Flowers has taken on a serious challenge in switching sides.

He’s struggled with linebacker stunts – unable to locate incoming pass-rushers and getting beat consistently in training camp. It may just be a product of his lack of chemistry with new guard Patrick Omameh, but nonetheless he needs to take major strides on the right side if he wishes to remain the starter.

We will check beck in regard to Flowers after the first pre-season game.

3.) How will the cornerback hold up?

See a trend here? Yes…the secondary is very much in question. The cornerbacks are deadly thin behind Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple and William Gay.

On Monday, former Carolina CB Teddy Williams requested his release after personal issues arose. This just adds to the lack of depth and talent in the secondary. Injuries have also begun to hit, with Apple, Gay and Donte Deayon  dealing with ailments over the last week.

The first game against the Browns will give us an idea of where the corners are at in terms of quality and potential.

Big Ten: The Maryland Quarterback Race Will Resume Where It Left Off Last Year

Maryland was in an interesting place last year. They finished with a 2-7 record in the Big Ten, but they didn’t have any help from luck. Things actually started off good for them, and devolved as the season continued for a bit. The first game of the season was a 51-41 victory over the Texas Longhorns, in Austin nonetheless.

However, the Terrapins only went three quarters before they lost their starting quarterback. After completing nine out of his twelve passes and throwing for a 75% completion percentage, along with 175 yards and two touchdowns, Tyrell Pigrome tore his ACL and ended up out for the season with that injury.

A quarterback that could change the narrative for Maryland football:

Enter Kasim Hill, the backup that would help Maryland hold onto the win despite only throwing three passes. It looked like the starting job had fallen into his lap, and Hill did good enough in the Texas game and scored a rushing touchdown to help ensure the win, but he didn’t have the best of fates either.

Hill completed 13 of 16 passes and threw for two touchdowns against in state opponent Towson in the second game of the season, but would only have a chance to complete two passes in the Terrapins’ loss to UCF. It looked like a routine hit, but it turns out Hill had torn his ACL after being flushed out of the pocket and brought down by a couple of UCF defenders.

Now, both quarterbacks that played in the upset against Texas are in the same position, rehabbing from the same injury and competing for a starting spot once again. Hill is the favorite to win the job, according to the odds from BetsDSI. While Pigrome was the starter coming into the season, he’s not necessarily the more experienced player. The Texas game was his second career start, after all.

Neither QB is going to win by just throwing the ball, even though Pigrome did get two passing touchdowns in the Texas game. He’s an option quarterback at heart and only attempted one more pass than rush. However, his use of his legs means that for him to be most effective, he needs a good offensive line opening up lanes and keeping linebackers out of the backfield. That’s something that Maryland doesn’t have, at least not when they’re facing high level opponents within the conference.

Kasim Hill is the bigger and heavier of the two, and if Maryland uses an offense this year that features designed running plays for the quarterback, it looks like he’s the better option. There’s not much reason to prefer Pigrome over the larger Hill in that kind of offense, especially when Maryland doesn’t have the blocking to keep their quarterbacks from being hit early on running plays.

Throwing the ball is what you think of when you rank quarterbacks, but they’re about even on that front. If anything, Hill showed his willingness during the Towson game to throw the ball at a variety of ranges rather than running as a first option. But Towson isn’t an FBS defense, let alone one of the better ones in the Big Ten East.

It looks like Maryland’s quarterback this year will be Hill, just because he can likely do a bit more in the kind of offense that the Terrapins might run this year. But unlike some of the other teams in the conference, Maryland isn’t one that’s ready to have a huge jump after finding their man at QB.

No, they’re on a journey rather than a sprint. This is just one piece of that larger puzzle.

New York Knicks: Taking A Look At The No.1 Priority For The 2018 Season

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

The New York Knicks are headed towards a rebuilding year with rookies Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. Their young players will undoubtedly play a premier part in rejuvenating the organization and giving fans something to look forward to in the near future.

What’s the No.1 priority for the New York Knicks?

While the priorities range from defensive improvements to offensive capabilities, the No.1 concern should be building chemistry and cohesiveness. In other words, forming a competitive team. Right now, the roster is just a bunch of high-profile names, nothing more, nothing less.

The chemistry should be front and center for the youngsters on the team, with the veteran leadership of players like Joakim Noah and Tim Hardaway Jr. making a direct impact. Ultimately, Kristaps Porzingis, Knox and Mitchell, are the future of the franchise, and their ability to play efficiently with one another will be the dictating factor in the success of the team.

Despite chemistry being the top priority, defense looms close behind. With Porzingis, the defense will struggle to maintain the standard most are used to. Before his injury, Kristaps was ranked No.1 in the NBA in blocks per game and opponent field goal percentage. He will be missed dearly until his return after the All-Star break, if he can play at all.

Knox will be the focus of the offense, but he will be expected to make an impact on defense as well. He’s not known as a defensive player, but it’s essential he begins to develop the necessary skills to become a well-rounded player in the NBA. Additionally, point guard Frank Ntilikina will remain the Knicks’ top defender – his tenacity and gusto on D is impressive, despite his lack of offensive prowess.

 

 

Penn State Football: Linebacker Manny Bowen Offers Big Addition For Defense

The Penn State Nittany Lions have a big addition for 2018, as linerbacker Manny Bowen will return after previously being kicked off of the team.

What happened to Penn State Football’s Manny Bowen in 2017?

Bowen was suspended last season as Penn State prepared to face Washington in the Fiesta Bowl, and was then dismissed entirely without a specific reason being released publicly. Bowen “violated team rules,” and unlike some other cases in college football, the details of those violations didn’t manage to reach the press. The popular rumor is that either academics or drugs were involved.

However, Bowen is back on the team and was listed on the roster during Penn State’s media day, which was held at Beaver Stadium last week. His addition will be important for a Penn State team that loses linebackers Jason Cabinda and Brandon Smith to graduation. With those leaders gone, much of the pressure to lead the position unit will fall on Bowen, who is a senior this season.

“I don’t want any decisions that we make to be need based… I want to do things because they’re the right things to do,” said head coach James Franklin, on the topic of Bowen being allowed back into the team. “We didn’t make it easy on him. I was surprised when he said he wanted to grind this thing out. The easy thing would have been to transfer.”

Franklin also stated that Bowen’s role on the team hasn’t been decided just yet. “I can’t tell what his role on the team is going to be like… I don’t know how this whole thing is going to play out,” he said.

Whatever his role is, Penn State fans will find out on September 1st, when the Nittany Lions host Appalachian State for a mid-afternoon game on college football’s opening weekend. With past 21 starts and plenty of experience, Bowen will surely fit right into a 2018 defense that needs the veteran leadership.

New York Giants: Has The Offense Or Defense Performed Better In Training Camp?

New York Giants, Eli Manning

As the New York Giants proceed through training camp and towards their first pre-season game on Thursday versus the Cleveland Browns, it’s time to start taking a look at both sides of the ball.

Has the offense or defense shown more quality over the course of the last two weeks?

Thus far, it seems as if the defense has had a slight edge over the offense during camp – primarily due to the lack of chemistry and cohesiveness on the offensive line. Olivier Vernon has tortured Nate Solder throughout camp, which is exciting considering the transition he’s making from defense end to outside linebacker. Right tackle Ereck Flowers has been a liability, especially on stunts. Flowers and new right guard, Patrick Omameh, need to develop a better understanding of how they will deal with constant blitzing and attacks from the right side.

Head coach Pat Shurmur will likely use his tight ends to help Flowers initially, but they can only do so much without completely taking a potential receiver out of the fold.

How is the New York Giants secondary holding up?

The Giants’ secondary was a liability going into camp and will continue to be with the amount of injuries already piling up. Cornerback Eli Apple has already limped off the field with an injury, Donte Deayon, who has impressed lately, came up with a quad injury. Big Blue needs to manage these ailments appropriately. There is a serious lack of depth and quality in secondary, which will likely cause problems down the stretch.

Besides the concern in defensive backfield, Janoris Jenkins has performed well, as expected. Apple is proving to be more mature and coachable. Deayon is finally coming into himself and showing that he can play a role on the active roster this season. Safety Darian Thompson has had a solid summer. Thompson’s role will be a big one if he can manage to lock up the free safety job, as he will be expected to take a major leap forward after 2017.

The defensive line has been dominant, wrecking havoc on the offensive line – with the help of the linebackers. Alec Ogletree is exactly the leader the Giants needed, and along B.J. Goodson it seems the middle of the field will be a strength. The signing of Connor Barwin also helps the linebackers tremendously, especially in the pass-rush.

How about the New York Giants’ offense?

The offense has performed well, with a majority of the struggles occurring on the line as stated before. First-round draft choice Saquon Barkley has proved to be a menace in the run and pass game; when split out wide against linebackers he’s uncoverable.

Eli Manning seems to still have some zip in his passes, with the exception of a few off days. Backup quarterback Davis Webb has been stellar, but he had a few blips during practice as well. It will be exciting to see him finally take the field in a serious manner in the coming weeks.

The receivers have been very impressive, with Odell Beckham Jr. looking better than ever and Sterling Shepard taking on a bigger role. Kalif Reymond has shown out lately, making several big time catches that could very well earn him a starting spot come September.

Tight end Evan Engram has been the most athletic on the field, making some tough catches and outrunning defenders at every turn. He will be a huge target for Manning in the passing game this season. If you’re a fantasy football participant, expect him to be a top-5 option.

Overall, both sides of the ball have shown serious improvement. I would say the defense has been a bit more impressive, but we should be excited to see some action and position battles over the course of the next month.