New York Yankees: Monday’s Subway Series Game Rained Out

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Monday’s subway series opener between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets has been postponed, and the teams will play a day-night doubleheader Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Game one will be starting at 1:05PM, and game two will start at 7:05PM. The evening game will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN, along with YES.

Masahiro Tanaka will be facing Jason Vargas in game one, and James Paxton will be facing Zack Wheeler in game two. Tanaka will be pitching on two extra days rest with the paternity leave and now the rainout.

The 26th man for the game is currently not known. It will likely be either Thairo Estrada or Chance Adams, who was expected to make a start with Double-A Trenton tonight. Adams was sent to AA to be closer to New York because the Railriders are on a road trip down South.

For the Yankees, Tuesday will be the only two games of their homestand, while the two games will be the only of the Mets “roadtrip”.

The Mets are currently 32-33 and are third in their division. The Yankees sit tied with Tampa Bay at 40-24 atop the AL East, but that will change either way with the Rays taking on the Athletics Monday evening.

Tuesday should be a fun day between the two teams, and hopefully the Yankees will emerge with two wins before they head off to Chicago.

Update (7:20PM): Wheeler will be pitching game one and Vargas will be pitching game two for the Mets.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett “this is the place I want to be”

The New York Knicks are considering drafting RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The New York Knicks are expected to be locked in on Duke star RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. After missing out on Zion Williamson, one of the most polarizing players entering the league, the next best bet was Barret, who will be an instant play-maker.

Barrett scheduled only one workout – the New York Knicks, stating after:

“This is the pace I want to be.”

The bright lights, The Garden, what’s not to like about the vicious media-driven hell-hole of New York City? Nothing has ever gone wrong here before, has it? I can’t imagine Barrett following in JR Smith’s footsteps and going clubbing after every game, but the Big Apple does strange things to people and players alike.

However, adding a talent like RJ to the roster would be impactful. His abilities on the court, offensively and defensively, present immense value for a team that lacks true star talent.

In fact, most think, on any other team, Barrett would have been so good he could’ve been the No. 1 pick. He likely would have been given Zion didn’t take over college basketball on a national stage.

He averaged 22.6 points-per-game on a team that centered their offense around Williamson.

At this point, it’s almost a guarantee that Barrett will take his talents to New York, given the Knicks don’t trade away their pick in favor of Anthony Davis or another superstar. With $73 million in cap space opening up, the team could have a completely different look come next season, and that would be a very good thing.

New York Giants undrafted safety Mark McLaurin fighting for roster spot

New York Giants, Mark McLaurin

The New York Giants have seen plenty of undrafted free agents succeed in the past, the most notable being wide receiver Victor Cruz. It’s always a good idea to bring several in as sometimes talent can be overlooked and the transition to the NFL can’t be anticipated at times.

The Giants signed UDFA Mark McLaurin to a contract in hopes he can emerge as an impact player on the defense. McLaurin is expected to compete at the “money backer” position, coined by defensive coordinator, James Bettcher.

How would the New York Giants utilize Mark McLaurin?

Essentially, this position is meant for an oversized safety that can play in the middle of the field and cover running backs and tight ends out of the backfield. The former Mississippi State safety has already shown promise, interception a Daniel Jones pass during spring OTAs.

The Giants don’t have a true cover linebacker, or “money backer” — the closest being Tae Davis, a solid cover option. However, he’s going into his second season and is a question mark on the defense. Linebacker Alec Ogletree played this role in 2018, interception five passes, despite struggling in coverage at times.

Implementing a true secondary player in the middle of the field will allow Bettcher to bottle up running backs in the flat, a play opposing offenses tend to utilize frequently.

A 4.77 40-yard dash time is what stopped McLaurin from being drafted, but a bit of development and speed training could alleviate any concerns over his ability at the NFL level. He was one of the best safeties in the SEC but was clearly undervalued entering the draft.

Hopefully, he can impress the coaching staff during training camp and justify a roster spot moving forward.

New York Giants: Why Evan Engram can finally break out in 2019

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Every year New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is expected to break out but is restrained by injury. The 2019 season represents his best chance at finally reaching his potential, and it’s not because of talent, but rather due to the departure of Odell Beckham Jr.

The 23rd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft played in just 58.8% of offensive snaps over the past two years, which has limited his production and potential significantly.

One of the major knocks on the receiving tight end has been his catch-rate — he saw a major improvement from 2017-18. In his rookie campaign, Evan posted a 55.7% catch-rate, dropping 11 passes, while last year he caught 70.3% of passes thrown his way. That’s an impressive jump and a factor that will help him excel in the season ahead.

When Beckham was out due to injury for the final four games of the 2018 season, Engram saw a massive spike in production. Averaging just 36.7 yards per game prior to Beckham’s injury, he saw a jump to 80 yards per game, more than doubling his totals.

This should provide optimism and justification for Engram to finally break out in a big way and establish himself as a top receiving tight end in the NFL.

What’s there to like about New York Giant’s Evan Engram?

Despite his obvious speed and ability with the ball in his hands, Engram brings unpredictability to the offense. Head coach Pat Shurmur can line him up in the slot, off the line of scrimmage, and even as a full-back. There are so many ways to utilize a player that is multi-faceted and can feature in the run and pass game.

While his blocking isn’t the most exciting part about him, he’s capable, especially with Saquon Barkley in the backfield. The Giants did, however, re-sign Scott Simonson to a one-year deal, a player that looked sharp in both the run and pass game. They also signed undrafted free agent CJ Conrad who has looked stellar in minicamp so far.

Providing competition at the position should help the Giants extract the most value from the players battling to keep their starting spot. I’m quietly rooting for Conrad who has ample size and speed to be a solid blocker but also a passing option for quarterback Eli Manning.

New York Knicks: Kevin Knox can take a big jump by working on these weaknesses

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

At just 19-years-old, New York Knicks 2018 first-round pick Kevin Knox was bound to face plenty of challenges at the professional level. Adapting to the speed and physicality of the NBA is not an easy feat, and Knox felt the brunt of that sword in his rookie season.

Nermous metrics ranked Knox as the worst rotational player in basketball. However, he has plenty of time to work on his weaknesses and blossom into a top player.

What does New York Knicks’ Kevin Knox need to work on?

The young power forward needs to work on his strength first and foremost. He was outmuscled and stuffed at the rim far too many times last season. He went through streaks of success but mostly struggled around the rim.

The ideal version of Knox would be a power forward that can knock down three-pointers, attack the rim through defenders and adapts to multiple positions with little adhesion. Kevin is still far from his physical prime at just 19, which promotes optimism.

At just 215-pounds, though, he will have to find a way to balance his game. Facing some of the better defenders in the league will test his abilities, and the Knicks signing a star might help him develop behind the scenes where he can tackle lesser defenders more frequently.

Adding a bit of weight and strength this offseason could be the catalyst for his expected growth. In addition to his size, three-point shooting should be a prioritized development for Knox moving forward.

On about five-attempts per-game, Knox shot 34.3 percent from beyond the arch. Not the worst percentage but certainly not the best. A majority of his attempts were catch and shoot, a stat that needs to be lessened if he wishes to be more impactful in that category. He needs to move around the floor more efficiently and create more separation.

However, Knox did knock down an impressive 39.4 percent of wide-open threes, which is impressive and a positive he needs to focus on. Lastly, he needs to work on attacking the rim.

At 6-foot-9, Knox has elite playmaking potential and scoring prowess. From the restricted area, he connected on just 48 percent of shots. A devastatingly low number that must be improved. Added strength should help in this department. Spending months in the gym during the offseason should allow him to elevate his game in year 2 — the Knicks will need him to be a valuable rotational player.

New York Giants: Why It Is No Debate That Saquon Barkley Is The Best Running Back In The League

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Saquon Barkley is the best running back in the NFL. The New York Giants drafted the best running back in the league only one year ago with the 2nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Barkley won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018. He was an electric, versatile runner and receiver as a rookie. Saquon proved in only one season that he is the best running back in the NFL. Some may disagree, but let’s take a look at what makes Saquon Barkley the best running back in the league:

Saquon’s Superior Receiving Ability

In his rookie season, Saquon broke records as a receiver out of the backfield. Saquon totaled 91 receptions out of the backfield in 2018. This beat Reggie Bush’s previously set rookie running back receptions record of 88 receptions.

Barkley also added an insane 721 receiving yards and a solid 4 receiving touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley posted 1.54 yards per route run which ranked 10th among all running backs in the NFL in 2018.

This aspect of Saquon’s game is so far ahead of his competition for the league’s top running back spot. Barkley’s value as a receiver is what separates him from the rest of the pack.

In 2018, Saquon had more receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns than Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley had in 2018 and more than Le’Veon Bell had in 2017. This was all achieved by Saquon Barkley in his rookie season.

Saquon Barkley will only get better. Entering his second season, the New York Giants have rebuilt their offensive line. The improved offensive line will lead to even more production out of Saquon Barkley. In addition, the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. could propel Saquon Barkley to finish 2019 with over 1,000 yards on the ground and through the air.

No One Can Tackle Saquon

According to Pro Football Focus, Saquon Barkley created a total of 71 missed tackles forced. This lead the NFL in 2018. Barkley also recorded 31 missed tackles forced as a receiver. This set a record for the most by a rookie running back in the PFF era.

Another impressive stat: 872 of Saquon’s 1,307 rushing yards came after contact. The rookie was practically impossible to take down. Saquon Barkley also lead the NFL in scrimmage yards in 2018. His 2,028 yards from scrimmage also lead all running backs, rookie or not.

Saquon Is A Threat To Score On Every Play

After breaking off a 78-yard touchdown run against the Washington Redskins, Barkley joined NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss as the only two rookies in NFL history to rack up five touchdowns of 50 yards or more during their NFL debut season.

Barkley had nine plays of 40-plus yards last year, five more than any other running back in 2018. He had 15 total touchdowns (rushing and receiving combined). The rookie’s longest play of the season was his 78-yard touchdown run against the Washington Redskins.

Saquon Barkley is the most valuable running back in the NFL. His god-gifted abilities as a runner and as a receiver will propel him into continuous domination for the foreseeable future with the Giants. 2018’s Offensive Rookie of the Year is going to smash even more records in 2019. Giants fans, get ready to see this young man reign supreme over the NFL’s running backs for at least a decade.

Should the New York Knicks be considering Jarrett Culver at No. 3?

Should the New York Knicks consider Jarrett Culver?

This is the start of a new series here on Empire Sports Media, where I’ll look at sixteen potential New York Knicks draftees, both in the first and second rounds, ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20th. Next up is Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver.

Texas Tech basketball experienced a renaissance this year. While the program had been trending up under the leadership of Chris Beard, the man who had been extolled by the conglomerate of basketball writers, it had yet to break through. It was a program built on grit, toughness, and the will to win.

So it seemed fitting that the player who led the charge in 2018-19 embodied the said characteristics. That player was Jarrett Culver, the crafty wing who emerged as a star this season. Under the tutelage of Beard, Culver became the Big 12 Player of the Year, averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 boards, and 3.7 assists per game, on .461/.304/.707 shooting.

After a nationally televised game against Duke (played in Madison Square Garden) in which Culver went for 25, six, and four, and made five of 12 threes, he took off as a prospect. The media took notice, and in a draft that is devoid of great options behind Zion Williamson, he became entrenched in the top five conversation.

New York Knicks –  Taking a look at the pros and cons for Jarrett Culver:

Pros:

Culver is an excellent finisher. He lacks an explosive first step or elite leaping ability at the rim, but he extremely nuanced in his second and third steps, and he has mastered the different angles he has to take to put the ball in the basket. I love how smart he is and how he never forces the issue. Whereas a Ja Morant or RJ Barrett are occasionally out of control around the rim, Culver is almost always composed.

While Culver didn’t shoot a high percentage from deep, his mechanics are solid and he displayed an above-average mid-range jumper. He consistently knocked down clutch shots throughout Texas Tech’s tournament run, and he is smooth in transition as well. As a scorer, he could definitely be a 15-20 a game kind of guy.

Though he is a solid scorer, the two things I love most about Culver are his defense and his passing. He was a high-level defender at Tech, defending the opponent’s best scorer on a regular basis. He uses his 6-7 frame to make things difficult for bigger players, and I was surprised at how easily he was able to stay with smaller, quicker guards.

His instincts as a passer are tremendous. While he only averaged 3.7 assists per game, he projects as a secondary ball handler who is fully capable of setting up an offense. He’s effective as a drive and kick player as well, oftentimes hitting the open shooter rather than forcing up a contested layup.

Cons:

I’m worried about Culver’s ability to create his own shot at the next level. Sure, he scored his points, but he lacks the athleticism needed to beat the defender off the dribble, and he is unable to get his shot up quick enough to have an effective step-back jumper.

In the NCAA Tournament, Tech’s offense would sometimes devolve into Culver isolations, and he was unable to get himself a good shot. He’ll need to master a go-to move and become more explosive in the NBA.

Part of the reason why he was unable to get a good shot off is because he has a loose handle. This is not uncommon for a player his size who is only just becoming the number one option (he was just a three-star recruit in high school, after all), and I do think it will improve.

That said, there are too many times where he loses control and has to regroup. Additionally, he is not creative with his handle, trying to get by defenders with smarts and craftiness. While this strategy worked fine in the Big 12, the NBA is a different beast.

This past season, Kevin Knox struggled in large part because his handle was not yet up to speed for what the NBA requires. It is essential as a guard or wing in the NBA to have at least a capable handle because the defenders are simply too quick and too smart.

Other Notes:

Culver is a proven leader, and I love the way he stepped up for a Red Raider squad in need of an alpha dog. Watching his games, it is easy to see him communicating at a high level, and it is easy to see the respect his teammates have for him.

As just a three-star recruit who chose Tech because he is from Lubbock, Texas, Culver has a chip on his shoulder, and he plays like it. He may not be the highest upside play, but I have a hard time seeing Jarrett Culver be anything other than a plus contributor who could develop into a second or third option on a good team. I have him second on my Knicks board, ahead of both RJ Barrett and Darius Garland (who are third and fourth, respectively).

 

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley v Landon Collins – who wins in the hole?

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley, Landon Collins

A solid group of current and past New York Giants attended Landon Collins’ charity softball event over the weekend, raising money for a good cause, but that didn’t stop the trash talk from commencing.

Collins left the Giants this past offseason in favor of the Washington Redskins and a $14 million-per-season contract. His record-breaking deal was well-deserved, but the Giants might come out better on the other side as they will save plenty of money to address positions of need in 2020.

The former Giant, however, was keen on sharing his opinion of Daniel Jones and why Dwayne Haskins was the better pick. An interesting place to make his voice heard, especially since Jones participated.

“I appreciate Daniel Jones coming out here, but I still think we got the best quarterback in the draft,’’ Collins said via the NY Post.

The New York Giants made an interesting decision at quarterback:

General manager Dave Gettleman elected to take Jones over Haskins due to his running ability and familiarity with Eli Manning and coach David Cutcliffe. So far, the 6th overall pick has progressed well and is picking things up quickly. After a year spent behind Manning, he will be ready to take over at the helm.

The most interesting thing Landon said at the softball game was in regard to Saquon Barkley or trying to tackle him. Last season, he expressed his thankfulness for not having to face off against Barkley on the opposing defense, but now things are different as he features on one of the Giants’ rival teams.

“I was only saying that for the media,’’ Collins said. “I’ve been ready to tackle Saquon. That’s my guy, though. When I get to meet him in the hole this time it’s gonna be full-go.’’

Collins is one of the best box safeties in the NFL, excelling against the run and filling holes. Unfortunately for him, Barkley is one of the most elusive and has immense abilities in the open field. If he gets to the second level, there’s not one player that can bring him down.

However, if there was one, it would likely be Collins and his familiarity with the talented runner. Personally, I do not think he has the side-to-side quickness to react on Barkley’s agility. Add in his tree-trunk size legs and it puts Saquon at a heightened advantage. It will be exciting to see the two clash come the regular season.

New York Giants News, 6/10 – Daniel Jones better than Dwayne Haskins?

The New York Giants drafted

Good Morning, New York Giants fans!

Over the weekend Landon Collins hosted his annual softball game for charity, and wouldn’t you know it, both rookie quarterbacks Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins attended the event.

Collins didn’t hesitate to promote Haskins stating that while he appreciated Jones coming to the game, Washington came away with the better player. That’s yet to be seen, and to be quite frank, I’m more high on Jones than Haskins for one simple reason — the Giants’ passer can move.

Haskins is a traditional pocket passer in a modern-day league that lacks talent at the offensive line position. It’s expensive and hard to come by high-level lineman, which makes mobility a necessity at the quarterback position. Haskins’ arm is better than Jones’ at a raw level, but the 6th overall pick has won with lesser talent and shown he can handle the media at a young age.

Haskins started his NFL career off by immediately launching an entertainment company with his dad — we’ve seen what happens when players and their family members get too involved… *cough, cough, Eli Apple*

While there are minimal numbers to support the argument that either one of the rookies is better than the other, and we likely won’t see any from Jones until 2020, it’s fair to say they’re both talented with plenty of potential. Collins, however, seems more interested in bashing the Giants than thanking Jones in a respectful manner for coming to the event.

Nonetheless–

Your New York Giants top news of the day!

Dan Benton (Giants Wire) – Baldy Breakdown: Giants’ Will Hernandez is a Pro Bowl talent

Ryan Young (Yahoo News) – New York Giants rookie Daniel Jones ‘getting confident’ after impressive minicamp

Paul Schwartz (NY Post) – Lorenzo Carter is the ‘deadly pass rusher’ Giants plan to unleash

Dan Benton (Giants Wire) – Shaun O’Hara sees Daniel Jones as blend of Eli, Peyton Manning
Alexander Wilson (Empire Sports Media) – New York Giants: Nate Solder and Will Hernandez can be elite duo

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