New York Yankees ALCS Roster: Hicks And CC On

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks hits a home-run against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The New York Yankees have released their roster for the 2019 ALCS against the Houston Astros, and it has a few changes compared to the ALDS roster.

The team has added CC Sabathia and Aaron Hicks to the roster. CC missed the ALDS due to a little shoulder soreness, but has continued to stay fresh.

Hicks has been out since August 3rd with a right flexor strain. He bat .235 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 221 at-bats, good for a 1.3 WAR. He was on the 60-day IL, and the team DFA’d David Hale to make room for him.

Adding two guys to the ALCS roster comes at a cost. The team took infielders Tyler Wade and Luke Voit off of the active roster. Voit really struggled down the stretch, but Wade played really well as a September call up.

If it was up to me (which it’s obviously not), I would of put CC on in place of Luis Cessa, and keep Hicks off. That way, they could use Wade as a fifth outfielder if needed. The Yankees rolled with just four official outfielders in the ALDS (Gardner, Stanton, Judge, Maybin) and they should of done the same in the ALCS.

Wade has a lot of defensive versatility, is very fast, and his offense has came a long way this season. Instead of keeping an extra pitcher, they should of put Wade on the roster.

Now that CC is on the roster, the Yankees will likely have another high-leverage weapon. CC looked really good in his lone relief appearance this year, and could be a middle innings guy to bridge it to somebody like Ottavino or Kahnle.

Game one begins at 8PM ET with Masahiro Tanaka on the hill. Let’s go Yankees!

New York Yankees have power up and down the lineup and more in the tank

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees power in the American League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins surged behind the bats of Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, and Brett Gardner and also adding power to the lineup were Didi Gregorius and Cameron Maybin. Gregorius’ Grand Slam in Game 2 was one of the highlights of the series. Heavy hitters missing from this list of home run hitters: Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and Edwin Encarnacion.

In some ways, the top hitters of the ALDS are also a surprise: Torres, Gregorius, Judge, and Maybin. Torres, Gregorius, and Maybin flashing the power and Judge contributing with timely hitting, taking the walks and cutting down on strikeouts.

Judge and LeMahieu are just two of the heavy hitters who can turn it up a notch against Houston.

While LeMahieu went 4-14 with a home run, there is no way he emptied the tank offensively in the ALDS. He finished the season second in the league in batting average at .327. Against Minnesota, he batted only .286 with 4 RBIs. I hope to see him with even more opportunities to drive in runs during the next series. LeMahieu, arguably the MVP of the Yankees regular season, will need even better numbers in the upcoming series to help the Yankees overcome what will be a tough series against the Houston Astros.

Judge’s performance in the ALDS was perhaps not spectacular offensively, but it was consistent with the kind of hitter he has become – which is not to say that his power stroke has gone missing – he just has become more patient at the plate, and it is unlikely he saw many pitches to take deep. Judge batted .333 for the ALDS, going 3-9 with four walks, one strikeout, and three singles. He was where he should have been if he’s not circling the bases, and that is on the bases.

The Yankees offense in the ALDS proved that the Yankees are poised to strike a balance between reliance on the long ball and playing small ball. If the Yankees can win series in which their power hitters fail to hit home runs, fans will take it, which means everything else is going right.

Against Houston, the pitching will be elite, and having a balanced offense against such elite pitching will be in the Yankees favor. Against pitchers like the Astros Justin Verlander or the Gerrit Cole, it is wise to have several lines of attack to beat them.

The Yankees now have their full complement of starting players back from injury, including Aaron Hicks, who is reportedly healthy and ready to play. The offense showed with its league-leading .324 average that at least so far in the postseason, it can meet any challenge. Woe to the Astros once the home run hitters join the fun.

New York Giants: Markus Golden Exceeding All Expectations

New York Jets, Markus Golden

The New York Giants lost to the New England Patriots this week. The Giants lost 35-14, indicating a blowout loss, but that is not what the game truly was

In fact, the Giants’ defense played an exceptional game through the first three quarters. Things fell apart in the fourth, but there is a lot to build on from the Giants’ week six performance.

In particular, the Giants’ pass-rush looked solid. Lorenzo Carter had what could be a breakout game and Markus Golden continued his underrated and excellent play. Markus Golden has been one of the best players on the Giants’ defense this year, and not many people seem to realize just how good he has been.

Markus Golden’s Underrated Season

He has flown under the radar, but Markus Golden has been performing at a very high level this season. Golden leads the Giants in sacks and is proving to be one of their best players on a struggling defense.

Through the Giants’ first six games of the season, Markus Golden has totaled 5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits. He is generating pressure at a very high rate and making an impact for the Giants like very few other defenders. Golden has also recorded 22 combined tackles and even scored a touchdown on a 42 yard fumble recovery and return.

One of Markus Golden’s best games of the season was this week against New England. The Tweet below details his stats and shows his extraordinary touchdown.

A Great Value Contract

The Giants signed Markus Golden this offseason. Golden was coming off of a significant knee injury, so he did not garner too much attention on the open market, luckily for the Giants. Additionally, the Giants had a familiar connection to Markus Golden, giving him even more reason to bring his talents to the Big Apple.

Markus Golden is a former Arizona Cardinal. So is the Giants’ current defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Golden’s familiarity with Bettcher’s scheme made him a good fit for the team’s defense and a must-have in free agency.

Since he was coming off of an injury, the Giants gave Markus a one-year “prove-it” deal worth $3,750,000. For a player who has totaled 5 sacks in 6 games, this is incredible value. Markus Golden has exceeded all expectation and could be a player the Giants resign and keep around for the long run.

New York Yankees: Tanaka confident for Game 1 start

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees are ready to take on the Houston Astros tonight in Game One of the American League Championship Series. Masahiro Tanaka was named the Yankees’ game one starter and Zack Greinke will be on the mound for the Astros.

“I felt like it was a good decision,” said manager Aaron Boone. “Tough one to be made, but similar to the Division Series, where I was going back and forth a lot. Just felt like Masa here in Game 1 is the way I wanted to go in the end.”

Tanaka, who is credited to a 1.54 ERA in the postseason, seems to turn on a switch come playoff time.

“One thing I can say is that we’ve been here in 2017,” said Tanaka. “We know what it’s like in here. So I think that experience will definitely help going into the game.”

Following Tanaka’s outing in Game One, James Paxton will be taking Game Two and Luis Severino has Game Three. The Houston Astros are sending Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole to the mound for Games one, two, and, three respectively.

“As far as facing the Houston lineup, obviously it’s going to be a challenge,” Tanaka said. “But you try not to do anything sort of different going into the game. You prepare for it. You make your plans, and basically you go out there and execute.”

Game one will be played in Houston at 8:08 PM EST. This is a highly anticipated series as these are the best teams in baseball, and most likely whoever wins this series will win the World Series.

New York Jets: Brandon Copeland Is A Big Return

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

A lot of people have focused on the high profile return of Sam Darnold. Yes, the offense really really needs a boost and Darnold will provide that. However, the New York Jets pass rush could use a boost. One of their best pass rushers returns this week and the New York Jets will immediately get a leader back on the field.

Brandon Copeland Constantly Improves

Originally, Copeland came into the league and had trouble finding a spot. He played on the Ravens and Titans practice squads. Then he finally found a home in Detroit with the Lions.  In his first two years in Detroit, Copeland played solid football. He had 19 tackles, a TFL, 2 QB hits, and 1 FF as a backup/rotational LB. After tearing a pectoral and missing the whole 2017 season, Copeland was hungry last season. Copeland posted a career year with 35 tackles, 2 PDs, 5.0 sacks, 8 TFLs, and 14 QB hits. Copeland had a great year and was coming back this season with high expectations.

PEDs In The Past

There were lofty expectations for Copeland this season and those got diminished immediately. Copeland tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and was hit with a 4 game suspension. Copeland is a good guy and a hell of a ballplayer who made a bad mistake. Now he is back with a clear mind and a chip on his shoulder. He can be a key impact guy immediately and his presence should help in a big way. The Jets needed to make an impact on their pass rush and his return will do just that.

New York Yankees: ALCS Game 1 Breakdown; Masahiro Tanaka vs Zack Greinke

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros have officially released their ALCS game 1 starters. Masahiro Tanaka will face a difficult challenge by going toe to toe against Zack Greinke.

Tanaka, who is known for his “hard as nails” performances in the postseason, is looking to steal game 1 from the Astros in Houston. If you don’t believe me, just take a quick glimpse at these impressive numbers. In 35 innings pitched from 2015-2019, Tanaka has recorded a 1.54 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.61 xFIP, 0.80 WHIP and a 3.31 SIERA. He also has a 92.7 LOB%, 8.23 K/9%, 2.06 BB/9% and a 0.77 HR/9%. All of these numbers scream utter dominance.

As far as Greinke is concerned, his numbers in the postseason aren’t atrocious by any means. In 70.2 innings pitched from 2011-2019, Greinke has recorded a 4.58 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, 1.15 WHIP and a 3.19 SIERA. He also has a 67.0 LOB%, 8.15 K/9%, 2.04 BB/9% and a 1.53 HR/9%. Keep in mind these stats are inflated from his last start vs the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing 5 hits and 6 runs in 3.2 innings pitched.

Tanaka has Greinke beat in every single category expect for xFIP, SIERA and BB/9%. While the BB/9% portion is self explanatory and means Greinke is walking less batters than Tanaka, xFIP and SIERA are a bit more advanced.

Why does Greinke have a better xFIP in the postseason? Based on strikeouts, walks and home runs, he has been an overall better pitcher than Tanaka. Why does Greinke have a better SIERA in the postseason? Based on balls in play, he has been more successful at limiting hits and preventing runs than Tanaka.

In 1006.1 innings pitched, Tanaka has recorded a 3.75 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP and a 3.60 SIERA in his career. On the flip side, in 2872 innings pitched, Greinke has recorded a 2.93 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 3.74 xFIP, 1.16 WHIP and a 3.57 SIERA in his career. Massive difference in the sample size, but you get the gist of things.

However, the postseason is a completely different ballgame compared to the regular season. While clutch can be considered a controversial topic between those who adore stats and those who despise stats, there is no denying that nerves still exist for each pitcher.

It will be interesting to see who rises to the occasion between Tanaka and Greinke. Both pitchers are capable of performing exceedingly well and have proven so in their careers. Regardless, this game will more than likely be a bitter battle to the finish line.

New York Giants: Walter Promoted to Active Roster, Finally Gets Chance

With game day looming against the 5 and 0 New England Patriots who are currently in first place in the AFC East, the New York Giants knew that they had to do something to help make sure that they could have at least a fighting chance in tonight’s game.

With injuries seeming to plague the New York Giants at every position, roster moves had to be made, especially at the running back position.  With starter Saquon Barkley still out after sustaining a high ankle sprain in Week 3’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wayne Gallman ruled out after suffering a concussion in Week 4 against the Washington Redskins, the New York Giants have to rely on Elijhaa Penny and Jon Hilliman for the rushing game.

The New York Giants knew that they needed to be secure at the running back position with so many injuries affecting the team so prior to the New York Giants Thursday night prime time match up against the New England Patriots, the team decided to promote running back Austin Walter from the practice squad.

Despite naysayers, Walter has never let that stop him from achieving his dream!  Walter has always chosen to see the positive aspect in everything and turns any negativity into an opportunity to prove himself and prove the doubters wrong.  Walter is skilled at the running back position and has the mental and physical dexterity to make some amazing plays.  Look at his career at Rice University and you will see in the clips and footage that he is sharp, quick and shifty when it comes to making his way past the defenders and into the end zone.

Walter will finally have his so well deserved time with the New York Giants in primetime tonight, playing for the first time in a regular-season game.  Walter can be a playmaker for the New York Giants if just given the chance and it looks like his time has finally come.  He has always been steadfast and determined when it comes to the game of football and life itself, which is why it is propitious that he will excel when given the chance!  Walter is an adept player and an all-around really nice guy and we all wish him well tonight and on his journey in!

New York Yankees: Can the Yankee starters match Houston?

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees are set to play the Houston Astros tonight for Game 1 of the ALCS. A rematch from the 2017 postseason when both clubs also squared up during the ALCS – Houston taking the upper hand that year.

Both teams have announced their starting pitchers for the series:

The only question now is: can the New York Yankee starting rotation match the Astros?

Game one will be up in the air for either team to take. Playoff Tanaka is a different animal, however, Greinke has had two very good starts against the Yankee earlier in the season.

On Greinke’s end, it’s tough for any pitcher to shut down a lineup three times in a season, including playoffs. On Tanaka’s end, he’s shut down the Astro lineup both in the postseason and regular season in his career.

Game two between Paxton and Verlander will be an absolute dogfight between the two teams. These are two aces matching up one another, so it’ll most likely turn to which team can do the most damage off the other’s bullpen. Something to note, the Yankees have a significantly better bullpen in terms of numbers.

Game three will be an interesting watch. Luis Severino, which will basically be his fifth start of the season, will be squaring up against the 18-0 at home Gerrit Cole. Both power pitchers with both high swing-and-miss rates. Severino is also significantly better at home – but so is Cole on the road.

This series will most likely be a pitchers duel every game with a low score. People are saying it’s essentially the real World Series since these are the two best teams in baseball. No matter what, this will feel like the longest seven-game series on both sides.

New York Knicks: Who stood out in second preseason game against the Wizards?

New York Knicks, Marcus Morris

After an impressive win over the Washington Wizards last Monday, the New York Knicks followed up their positive performance with a disheartening loss that exposed their lack of defensive prowess.

The New York Knicks still need to build on their improvements:

Falling 115-99 to Washington, the Knicks have plenty of work to do before being considered a quality team and worthy of contending for a playoff spot. Head coach David Fizdale wants to personify his team as a defensive unit, focused on locking down opposing scorers and using his players’ high work rate to put points on the board.

Players like rookie RJ Barrett fit this mold perfectly, as he will increase his work-rate to help supplement his deficiencies in other categories. Against the Wizards on Friday night, Barrett connected on 6-of-15  from the field and 2-of-5 from beyond the arch. He finished with a -13 rating and 15 points — another disappointing performance that we should become accustomed to in RJ’s first year in the NBA. It will take time for the rookie to find his groove and develop into a consistent scorer.

However, the night was tainted by weak defense for the Knicks.

“We stopped guarding the 3. We relaxed,” Fizdale said after Washington connected on 19 three-point baskets. “From Game 1 to Game 2, our closeouts were a nightmare.

“We have to be good defensively. I do think we have more scoring this year, but our first priority has to be the defensive end and taking that challenge.”

The only bright spot on the night was veteran Marcus Morris, who put up a noteworthy 21 points on a +6 performance. He went 8-of-13 from the field over 31 minutes, proving his worth on the offensive side of the ball. His efficiency regarding putting points on the board will be extremely beneficial in helping the Knicks overcome the 17-win benchmark set last season.

Morris and Julius Randle will both play influential roles in the season ahead, and while the latter is expected to be the focal point of the offense, Morris is more than capable of holding his own.

New York Giants: Give Daniel Jones a break, there’s a reason he struggled against the Patriots

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

Facing off against the New England Patriots was always a daunting task for the New York Giants and rookie quarterback, Daniel Jones. Jones finished the night with 15 completions on 31 attempts for 161 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He had a bumpy evening considering the Patriots defense—the number one unit in the league and hadn’t allowed a passing score until Golden Tate’s 64-yard juggling circus catch.

Nobody expected Jones to dominate in this matchup, mainly because he was without his top three playmakers and backup running back. Losing Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram to injury significantly hurt his chances of success and put him at a disadvantage right out of the gate.

The Giants defense played exceptionally well, though, despite allowing 35 points. They returned a fumble for a touchdown and hung in there until the fourth quarter when they ran out of gas. A windy night in Foxboro is never an easy one, and Jones gained essential experience against one of the best defenses he will likely ever see as a professional football player.

The Giants will now have 1-1/2 weeks to recover/nurse injuries and prepare for the Arizona Cardinals, a far less intimidating opponent. Jones will be heading into this match up with a problematic game under his belt but the confidence and coolness to overcome adversity. He stuck in there until the very end and took some big hits, but he bounced right back up and continued to throw the ball to his only respectable target in Tate.

The biggest weakness for New York Giants rookie, Daniel Jones:

There was no question that Jones would struggle in his rookie season, but his primary deficiency has been his turnover rate. He has eight turnovers in his first four starts—six interceptions and two fumbles. Half of his interceptions came against the Patriots, and he admittedly did not play well.

Head coach Pat Shurmur stated after the game, “obviously, you can’t do that.”

In regards to Jones and is receiving corps on Thursday night, Golden Tate only averaged 1.10 yards of separation on nine targets. Daniel made 48% of his throws into tight windows, the highest rate by any quarterback in the game of the past four seasons. What does this mean? The Giants receivers are not getting away from opposing corners and creating space for the rookie passer to throw the ball. This inevitably increases the turnover rate and incomplete passes.