New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers Talks About Big Position Matchup On Sunday

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

Jabrill Peppers has large shoes to fill – the safety was largely traded for by the Giants because of the loss of Landon Collins to the Washington Redskins in free agency, and after moving from the smaller media market of Cleveland to the intense New York City one, Peppers will be expected to make up for whatever production the Giants lose from Collins immediately. Peppers, of course, has had a good offseason – but the offseason doesn’t matter come the regular season, and the first real test for Peppers will be the Dallas Cowboys when the Giants take them on this Sunday.

There will be multiple threats for the new Giants safety to deal with. At the running back position is Ezekiel Elliot, a player that will surely compete again with Saquon Barkley for the rushing title after signing a deal and avoiding a contract holdout just before the start of the season.

Another player of note is Jason Witten, the well known and praised Cowboys tight end who will make his return to the field this season on a one year contract, against a Giants team that isn’t the best at containing the tight end position. Will that trend change with Peppers at safety instead of Landon Collins?

“Watching the film, seeing what routes he likes against certain coverages out of certain personnel, where he’s at on the field, and what he does from there. Really, just extensive film study,” Peppers said this week about his preparations to play against Witten. “Taking the challenge head on and going out there and competing at a very high level.”

“He knows what he’s doing, he knows how to get open [and] he’s been there forever. They have a guy who can get him the ball, and they have guys around him who can stretch the defense out and let him sit in those soft coverages. We are definitely going to take the challenge,” Peppers said further about Witten.

The Witten versus Peppers matchup will just be one of many for a secondary that looks all new after several changes from last season – will it perform better or worse? That will be seen on Sunday, but if the Giants want to win this game, the secondary is definitely one of the parts of the team that will have to show up big.

New York Yankees: Bullpen Game Limits the Rangers, Yanks Win Another Series

New York Yankees, Chad Green

The New York Yankees are now 43 games over .500, which is a season-high. This team continues to mash the cover off of baseballs, flash the leather and pitch sufficiently through 9 innings. Just how did the Bronx Bombers acquire their 92nd win on the season and how abundant was the production?

Six different pitchers toed the slab on Wednesday night, including Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton and Cory Gearrin. Green and Cessa effectively utilized the opener strategy for the 1st 5 innings, allowing 4 hits and striking out 7 batters on 72 pitches. Ottavino, Kahnle, Britton and Gearrin finished the job in the later stages of the game, allowing 3 hits, 1 run and striking out 6 batters on 61 pitches.

Big Aaron Judge sprung into the bottom of the 3rd with absolute power. With a runner on 1st and 1 out, BAJ hammered in a 2-run knock into right field bleachers, traveling 366-feet with an exit velocity of 101.0 MPH. Gleyber Torres joined Judge and the home run celebration, launching a solo blast of his own in the bottom of the 4th. De Caracas propelled the baseball 406-feet with an exit velocity of 104.3 MPH.

Other than hitting dingers per usual, Judge also executed a gorgeous play with ease. In the top of the 5th, Judge flung an absolute cannonball to throw out Ronald Guzman at 2nd base, who slid just off the bag.

As the pitching continued to shutdown the Rangers and their struggling offense, the Yanks cashed in their final run of the night in the bottom of the 6th. With a runner on 1st and 1 out, Austin Romine smoked an RBI double inside the 3rd base line, scoring Mike Tauchman and extending the Yanks lead to 4-0. Bizarrely, the expected batting average on the double was a ridiculously low .010. That’s baseball Suzyn.

Gearrin closed out the game in the top of the 9th, but not before allowing a solo homer off the bat of Rougned Odor. After the mild inconvenience, Gearrin recorded the last out by striking out Guzman, granting the Yanks with a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers. The Bronx Bombers now possess a 92-49 (.652) record, which is the best record in the American League and in the majors.

Examining The New York Jets Special Teams Situation

New York Jets

Last season, at this time the New York Jets had a renowned punt/kick returner and young kicker with high potential. Andre Roberts and Jason Myers were two young special teamers with expectations of mediocrity by many. Brant Boyer the Jets special teams coach and the two talented players made the Jets special teams truly special. Boyer is a football mastermind and he can make talented players that much better. The Jets fielded two pro bowl special teams players but ultimately the old regime felt it would be in the team’s best interest to let Andre Roberts and Jason Myers walk. This left the Jets with no returner or kicker for the 2019 season. The Jets did hold on to the legend that is Lachlan Edwards (Punter) and the veteran Long Snapper Thomas Hennessey but the Jets special teams aside from that will be completely revamped this season.

Kick Returner: Trenton Cannon

Trenton Cannon is a 2nd year running back from Virginia State. Cannon was drafted for his elusiveness and breakaway speed. Boyer was able to use him in a few ways on special teams last year but not in a large way. Cannon saw a bigger role in the running and passing attack due to injuries and put up 38 carries for 113 yds, 17 receptions for 144 yds and a score. Cannon has had his struggled adjusting to a more high profile returner role but now he will be the Jets resident kick returner this season. It will be a big role for the second-year player and there will be a learning curve but ultimately, I expect Cannon to have a solid amount of success.

Punt Returner: Braxton Berrios

One of the Jets newest signees joins the team to take Greg Dortch’s role on the squad. Berrios was drafted by the New England Patriots out of Florida State with a 6th rounder in the 2018 draft. Berrios was someone I projected to be a solid slot receiver and at the least a good special teams addition to whichever team drafts him prior to the 2018 draft. Berrios didn’t have a true shot to a breakthrough in the crowded Patriots wide receiver room. Berrios was ultimately waived and will now be given his first legitimate shot to succeed with the New York Jets as one of their 5 WRs and as their new punt returner.

Kicker: Kaare Vedvik

One of the biggest holes on this team was covered by me in a previous article. The Jets let go of Jason Myers as I mentioned earlier and then added their former kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Catanzaro flat out stunk for the Jets and went straight to retirement. The Jets replaced him with another former Jet kicker from last season, Taylor Bertolet. The job, just like Catanzaro was his to lose and he lost it. The Jets floated the idea of acquiring Vedvik from the Ravens before he ultimately landed in Minnesota for a 5th rounder and didn’t play the best. He, however, was phenomenal with the Ravens in the pre-season and a really good kicker in college. He is coming over in a position similar to when Myers came to New York. Now the Jets will look to recreate that success with Vedvik this year and he happens to be one of the players I’m most excited to see this Sunday against Buffalo.

To conclude, the Jets will have their work cut out for them on special teams this year. The unit that was one of the best now could be the weakest spot on the team this season. With so much high potential, however, I don’t doubt the Jets and Brant Boyer can turn this group into something good.

New York Mets: Do Not Count Them Out Just Yet

New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

In their series against the Nationals, the Mets were the best team for 26 1/2 out of the 27 innings played. The half inning where the Nats were better ended in a heartbreaking loss and cost the Mets a three game sweep.

There is Still Life

Despite all of the heartbreak and agony, somehow the opportunity is still there for a comeback. On Friday, they start a three game series with the Phillies at Citi Field while the Cubs head to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers in a four game series on Thursday. If the Brewers can take care of business, it give the Mets an opportunity to move closer.

This upcoming 10-game homestand is perfectly timed with the Cubs start an eight game road trip. The Cubs have been bad on the road this year, but the Mets need to take advantage of the small window they have. They play seven game against the Phillies and Diamondbacks before the mighty Dodgers come into town.

How Can They Get Themselves Back?

For the Mets to make their playoff run realistic, they have to be within 2 games of the second Wild Card by next Friday. This goal gives them a week full of games to either make up two or three games, depending on how the Cubs/Brewers game plays out Thursday.

Each time that the Mets have seemed dead this season, they sit up from their casket like the Undertaker. At 4.5 back they have a huge hole to climb out and Wednesday’s win was a great response to their worst loss of the season. Taking care of business against the Phillies will go a huge way to making this homestand mean something.

New York Knicks: The state of Frank Ntilikina

New York Knicks, Frnak Ntilikina

Frank Ntilikina has been a big topic of conversation for the New York Knicks.  He has been in-between positions his entire NBA career and has not given a real chance.

Recently, Ntilikina has participating in the FIBA World Cup basketball tournament for his home country, France.  He has received praise for his ‘skill-set’ from his coach and teammates.

In group play, Ntilikina has averaged 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.  These numbers are not stellar, but it is the type of consistency and start that Ntilikina needs.

He appears to be very comfortable in theFrance system.  Their head coach, Vincent Collet, has complimented Ntilikna on his aggressiveness and avoiding hesitation.  Collet believes in Ntilikina’s ability and it appears to be paying dividends as he trends upward.  That is what the Knicks and David Fizdale need to do.

In France’s game against Jordan, Ntilkina appeared to be very confident in his shot.  That is something that all Knicks fan want him to improve, along with his aggressiveness.  His stroke looked smooth and there was no hesitation to shoot when getting the ball.  Ntilikina was also continues to make it difficult for his opponents with his defense.

The confidence, aggressiveness and, overall, growth that Ntilkina is receiving in the FIBA World Cup is something that the Knicks can build on.  The Knicks have had trouble finding how he fits in their system.  Fizdale needs to take a look at his play throughout the tournament and coach him towards his strengths.

Every other point guard that has been in the Knicks system the last few seasons has got a legitimate shot.  Why not Ntilikina now?  He is still growing, developing, getting stronger and trying to become the NBA player that his France coach and teammates currently see.

Through the World Cup, Ntilikina needs to use the confidence he is gaining in his game towards a shot at becoming a vital role player for the Knicks.  As it seems now, all of the work he has been putting forth on his game has been paying off.

The Knicks only have until this Halloween to pick up his $6.2 million option for next season for he becomes a unrestricted free-agent.

New York Giants: DeAndre Baker Healthy For Week One Matchup

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

The New York Giants will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Sunday. Their first matchup of the regular season will be a tough divisional game. This is a game that the Giants need to win in order to have a competitive season. Fortunately, the Giants will be heading into this game with a mostly healthy lineup.

It is expected for a team to be healthy in the first week of the season. But the Giants did suffer through numerous injuries in the preseason and are lucky to be as healthy as they are. Granted, New York did lose a few key players to injured reserve already, but most of the important players are healthy.

The Giants’ starters from the draft class are all healthy and ready to go for week one, despite a couple of setbacks. First-round cornerback DeAndre Baker has been dealing with a knee injury but is ready to start in week one.

How Important Is DeAndre Baker To This Defense?

The New York Giants‘ secondary has been one of the league’s worst over the past two years. In 2017, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.4 passing yards per game (ranked 31st in the NFL). In 2018, the Giants’ secondary allowed 252.8 passing yards (ranked 23rd in the NFL), showing minimal to no improvement.

The Giants completely rebuilt their secondary this offseason. New York drafted three defensive backs in the 2019 NFL Draft (four if counting Sam Beal). Their first defensive back taken was Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker.

DeAndre Baker will step in and be an instant starter on the Giants’ defense. Despite a small setback during training camp, Baker will be ready for week one. DeAndre Baker suffered a sprained knee during camp but has made a quick and thorough recovery since and is listed as a starter heading into the regular season.

Baker will line up opposite of veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins. The two have the chance to be one of the NFL’s elite defensive duos if they both reach their full potential.

In three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs, DeAndre Baker totaled 7 interceptions. He also added a whopping 23 passes defended. Baker was also an exceptional tackler in college. He posted 30 or more solo tackles in both his junior and senior season. Altogether, DeAndre had a total of 116 combined tackles in his collegiate career.

The Giants will be relying on DeAndre Baker early and often. In week one, Baker could see himself matched up with Amari Cooper at some point which will be a true test for the rookie.

But besides Amari Cooper, the Cowboys have other talented receivers, like Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Week one will be a real test for the Giants’ new secondary facing off against the Cowboys’ solid group of playmakers. This is why the Giants are extremely fortunate to have DeAndre Baker back and healthy just in time for the start of the season.

New York Yankees: Big players are finally returning

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

The New York Yankees have received some excellent news in the past week. As far as injuries are concerned, all of the key pieces are expected to make a full recovery in September/October. With Edwin Encarnacion and Luke Voit back in action, the healing process continues to brighten spirits and leave New York Yankees fans excited for October.

Aaron Hicks

Hicks, who was placed on the 10-day IL with a right flexor strain back in early August, is the only player who might not make a return until early October. Aaron Boone has elected to play his cards carefully and is taking the healing process one step at a time. The last thing Boone needs is another player rushed back onto the baseball diamond with a risk of turning the situation into a disaster, especially this close to the postseason.

The good news? Hicks resumed throwing activities and progressed sufficiently through rehab on Tuesday. The bad news? The infamous injury bug might prevent his return until early October. While Hicks may not be as productive as other players, he is still essential for the team’s success in October. Out of 96 plate appearances in the month of July, he produced a .259 AVG, .344 OBP, .529 SLG, .363 wOBA and a 126 wRC+. Although his defensive numbers haven’t been as sharp compared to the 2017 season, Hicks can still cover a massive amount of terrain and has the ability to create some spectacular catches.

Dellin Betances

Betances, who is dealing with a right lat strain, is expected to be out until at least September 14. He was seen throwing to live hitters on Tuesday, which included Clint Frazier, Giancarlo Stanton, and Tyler Wade. Boone is quite thrilled with his progress and was asked on the matter recently. “I thought he looked really good. It was really exciting today. Just to see him throw the ball the way he did,” said Boone.

Since his time in the majors, Betances has been an extremely reliable reliever for the New York Yankees. In 66.2 inning pitched last season, he acquired a 2.70 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 1.95 xFIP, and a 1.05 WHIP. His strikeout percentage was outstanding, walk percentage was adequate and limited the long ball to a minimum. Betances and Luis Severino will both pitch with Double-A Trenton Thunder this Friday, which is excellent news.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton, who is recovering from a knee injury, is excepted to be out until at least September 6. He was involved in a live hitting exercise with Betances on Tuesday. Stanton will be heading to Single-A to acquire more live at-bats this weekend with the Tampa Tarpons. Just as Boone was impressed with Betances and his recovery, he believes Stanton is presenting some “momentum” and should be back with the Yankees relatively soon.

Although Stanton has been injured for most of the season, he will be an absolute treat in the batter’s box come October. In 705 plate appearances last season, he drove in 38 HR and 100 RBI, slashing a .266 AVG, .343 OBP, .509 SLG, .360 wOBA and a 127 wRC+ in the process.

Gio Urshela

Urshela, who is recovering from a groin injury, is expected to be out until at least September 8. Urshela ran today and might have the opportunity to play this Sunday vs the Boston Red Sox. Assuming the injury bug remains invisible, everything should resolve itself in the end.

Urshela has been an absolute wrecking ball with his magical bat this season. In 414 plate appearances, he has collected 18 HR and 67 RBI. He also possesses a ridiculous .331 AVG, .370 OBP, .555 SLG, .383 wOBA and a 140 wRC+ with a 3.0 fWAR. In 400 plate appearances, Urshela is in the top 25 for AVG, SLG, wOBA, and wRC+.

Luis Severino

Severino, who has been recovering from a right lat strain, is expected to be out until at least September 7. Just like Betances, Sevy is scheduled to pitch a live game in Trenton this Friday. Last Sunday, Sevy toed the slab with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders. In 1.0 inning, he allowed 3 hits, 2 runs and struck out 2 batters on 33 pitches. Sevy was excited about the performance, comparing the opportunity to “getting into a room where a lot of candy is.”

In 191.1 inning pitched last season, Sevy accumulated a 3.39 ERA, 2.95 FIP, and a 1.14 WHIP. He also acquired a 10.35 K/9, 2.16 BB/9 and a 0.89 HR/9 through which all add up to excellent and sufficient numbers.

New York Knicks: Ranking the point guards on the roster

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

While it seems the New York Knicks have instilled their faith in Dennis Smith Jr. for the 2019-20 season, I wouldn’t be so sure moving forward. Reports have made compelling arguments new veteran signing Elfrid Payton could emerge as the starter.

Smith Jr. has worked this off-season to improve his jump shot and potential scoring efficiency, something he has struggled with during his first two seasons in the NBA. With training camp just one month away, the Knicks are preparing to situate their starting five on the roster and what point guard will ultimately earn the most playing time.

Here is how we rank the point guards for the New York Knicks:

1.) Elfrid Payton

While Dennis has elite athleticism, Payton is the more efficient point guard in nearly every category. Compared to Smith’s 2.8 rebounds per game last season, Elfrid earned 5.3.

Also, Smith has never averaged over 5.2 assists in a season, while Payton has never fallen below 6.2 per game and his five-year NBA career. Comparing the two side-by-side, Smith is a bit more versed in scoring, but that is likely due to his mentality and desire to attack the rim.

Payton is a more patient point guard that looks to expand the floor and move the ball around. That makes him a bit more valuable for the Knicks this upcoming season unless Smith can prove that he is a more well-rounded player and is willing to operate as a traditional point guard.

2.) Dennis Smith Jr.

Head coach David Fizdale may elect to stick with Smith moving forward as the starter. He is the younger option in regards to Alfred Payton, which is likely why the Knicks want him on the floor and gaining experience. They view him as the future at the position for the team, making him even more valuable. Payton can necessarily be his mentor and help him develop this upcoming season. Increasing his rebounding and assist totals will be a priority for him. Also, his jump shot in field-goal efficiency will be a focal point.

3.) Frank Ntilikina

The disappointing story of Frank Ntilikina is ultimately winding down to a close. The French point guard has struggled to leave his mark on the NBA with inadequate scoring production, averaging just 5.9 points per game in his two-year NBA career. Additionally, he averages fewer rebounds per game than Smith and significantly fewer assists. He’s a very talented defender, which makes him a scenario-centric play, but he cannot be trusted to put points on the board with regular minutes.

New York Giants could be without starting offensive lineman on Sunday

New York Giants, Eli Manning

The New York Giants and general manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to bolster the offensive line the past two years. This off-season, they traded for right guard Kevin Zeitler and signed right tackle Mike Remmers.

This time last year, Ereck Flowers was still starting on the Giants’ offensive front, not to mention the Patrick Omameh experiment. Finding their way to the current unit required trial and error, but ultimately it took time.

The Giants didn’t have the cap space to go out and sign multiple top free agents, so they were forced to utilize the NFL draft, and the time it took to rebuild the offense.

During the process, they managed to secure second-round pick Will Hernandez as their starting left guard. He is expected to be an influential player this upcoming season and dominate in the trenches. However, he did struggle at times and cost protection this preseason. While I likely could be him shaking the rust off, he was concerned with his performance and will look to bounce back during the regular season. An enticing matchup against the Dallas Cowboys is the perfect opportunity for him to prove his worth once again.

Should the New York Giants be concerned over this new injury?

While the offensive line looks like it’s coming together, the Giants could be without their starting right tackle on Sunday. Remmers missed practice during the week with an illness and back-related issues. The veteran endured surgery on his back this off-season before signing with the Giants. It could be a cautionary resting before the game, or it could be something to be concerned over.

Behind Remmers on the depth chart, the Giants host Eric Smith, Chad Slade, and Nick Gates. Slade looked solid during the preseason and could be the player of choice to fill in if needed.

Releasing Chad Wheeler could cause issues for head coach Pat Shurmur if Remmers isn’t able to play a majority of the season. While the injury does not indicate he will miss any time at all, it is better to be cautious with players coming off major surgery and time lost in the past. This is certainly something to keep your eye on moving forward.

 

New York Yankees: Miguel Andujar Kicks Up Rehab, Will Begin to Throw

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

New York Yankees’ Miguel Andujar is expected to ramp up his rehab where he intends to start throwing again on Monday. The 22-year-old played in 12 games before he decided to get surgery for a shoulder injury that ended his season.

“I’m super excited to start something different,” said Andujar Wednesday. He’s looking forward to begging baseball activities rather than physical therapy rehab he’s been doing since surgery in May.

When asked about how his shoulder is feeling, Andujar said, “It’s stronger now. Just definitely feels better than it did before. Very happy with the work we’ve been doing. It’s shown progression and I’m happy with it.”

The Yankees announced in August that Andujar would begin throwing the next month, so he’s right on schedule with his rehabbing. The club will be mindful with what they do with him, as there’s no rush. They intend to have him be throwing over the next five months to prepare him for next season’s spring training.

Andujar was at Yankee Stadium for Wednesday night’s matchup against the Texas Rangers. “It’s always good to see Miggy,” said manager Aaron Boone who was excited to see his young talent. “He was here… (it) kind of brightens your day a little bit knowing that he’s doing well… he seems to be in really good spirits.”

Andujar signed a 1-year/$617,000 contract with the New York Yankees (Spotrac). In his rookie season, Andujar hit 27 home runs while knocking in 92 runs (Baseball-Reference). He fell short to Shohei Ohtani for the Rookie of the Year award where he placed second.