New York Yankees: Good news and bad news following series sweep of Boston

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees completed a four-game sweep against the Boston Red Sox on Monday evening. After being delayed for 1-1/2 hours due to thunderstorms, the Yankees picked up right where they left off. With Jordan Montgomery leaving men on base for Luis Avilan, the relief arm managed to sneak his way out of the inning despite walking two batters.

The Yankees were without a bevy of players, including Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu. Luckily for them, the Boston Red Sox are essentially a Triple-A team acting as a major league squad. They have now lost seven games straight and have a 6-17 overall record.

The Yankees will now host the Tampa Bay rays in a three-game series, beginning on Tuesday. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch the first game against Blake Snell, with Gerrit Cole picking up the second game. James Paxton will finish off the series on Thursday before the Yankees travel across town to Citi Field to face off against the Mets.

FINAL SCORE: 6-3

The good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news, the Yankees’ offense has been unstoppable as of late. Despite missing three of their star players, the rest of the team picked up the slack. Aaron Hicks went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. Luke Voit smashed two homers, collecting three RBIs. Thairo Estrada, who was filling in for Gio Urshela at third base, tallied a home run on the night as well. Overall, the Yankees dominated a lowly Boston squad who barely has enough pitching to get through games on a daily basis.

The final piece of good news is that closer Aroldis Chapman recorded his first appearance of the season. While he allowed one earned run, it was good to get him some action in a game where the Yankees were leading by a fair amount. This will allow manager Aaron Boone to utilize Zack Britton in a more strategic role.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news, the Yankees will face off against the Rays without their three best players. Judge, who is reportedly 100% healthy, will be unable to play until he is reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Nonetheless, the offense has been solid, but the Rays represent an entirely different beast. Blake Snell is a fantastic pitcher, who currently hosts a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings.

Luckily for the Yankees, they have Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, who has a 2.31 ERA over 11.2 innings.

One of the more disappointing factors from the final game of the series was Gleyber Torres recording another error. He currently has six errors on the season, leading the MLB at the shortstop position. Miguel Andujar also looked lost in the field at times, losing his feet, as he tracked a ball down toward the wall.

New York Mets: Cano and Alonso Power Mets to an 11-4 Victory

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

The New York Mets desperately needed a good victory after a three-game sweep in Philadelphia. Even more than that, Pete Alonso needed a tremendous offensive day as well. Alonso and Robinson Cano combined for two home runs each and drove in six of the Mets runs in an 11-4 victory over the first-place Miami Marlins.

The Mets offense needed a good breakout game. They went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and despite leaving 12 runners on base, the extra hits in those situations make a significant difference. Their offense put together nine extra-base hits and seven walks to consistently keep the Marlins in tough situations.

Alonso reached base in all five plate appearances, tallying a single and two walks with his two home runs. Cano tallied three hits and drove in four RBIs on the night, moving his average to a blistering .412. Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario joined the multiple hits club with a single and double each.

Shreve Saves the Day

Robert Gsellman struggled for his second straight start. He only lasted 1.2 innings, allowing one run and labored through 47 pitches. Chasen Shreve came in after Gsellman and stabilized the game when it seemed like the Marlins were coming back from a 3-1 deficit. Shreve pitched 2.1 perfect innings and struck out five of the seven batters he faced. His outing saved the Mets from using an excess amount of relievers and allowed the Mets to build up their lead from that point.

The victory got the Mets their 10th win of the season and moved them within three games of a playoff spot. With their two best starters lineup to pitch, they are in a good position to climb themselves out of their early-season hole.

David Peterson takes the mound for the Mets on Tuesday night against a Marlins starter to be announced. The first pitch from Marlins Park takes place at 7:10 p.m. ET.

 

New York Giants Already Move On From Chandler Catanzaro

New York Giants, Chandler Catanzaro

The Chandler Catanzaro era didn’t last long for the New York Giants special teams group. The Giants were left in an awkward position this offseason by Aldrick Rosas’ sudden legal troubles, and it looked like Catanzaro was a possible replacement, but at the end of the day the Giants found someone else.

According to Adam Schefter, the team has moved on from Catanzaro already. The Giants originally picked him up at the beginning of the month, once it was clear that relying on Aldrick Rosas is a bad idea going forward. Rosas was released by the Giants only a few days before they picked up Catanzaro. However, the new addition just wasn’t destined to make it as the actual replacement for the former starter.

The Giants chose to release Catanzaro in favor of Graham Gano, who is currently a free agent. Interestingly enough, Gano isn’t actually on the roster yet. He was last signed to Carolina, the same team the Giants got GM Dave Gettleman from.

Gettleman was GM of the Panthers during some of the time Gano was there. It’s possibly why Gano is the preferred choice right now. Likely, the Giants only gave Catanzaro a chance because he’s already familiar from playing with the Jets for two stints.

As for Gano, his 90.9% field goal percentage from his last season in the league back in 2018 is an improvement over the 70% Rosas had in his slump season during 2019. He’s still a 33 year old that hasn’t been in the league for a bit, so it’s not a perfect signing. But the Giants aren’t making an obvious mistake with this one.

With the kicker question mostly solved, there probably won’t be too much more news about this subject this offseason.

New York Islanders: Has Ilya Sorokin Improved Varlamov’s Game?

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

New York Islanders‘ goalie Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of sensational during the playoffs. Varlamov is currently boasting a 1.71 GAA with a .932 save percentage. Not only that, but Varlamov also has only allowed five even-strength goals in 7 games. The powerplay goals are not his fault normally, but even counting those goals, Varlamov has only allowed 12 goals in 7 games.

The Capitals have astounding goal scorers like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, and Jacob Vrana. The Panthers have studs like Alexander Barkov, Mike Hoffman, and Jonathan Huberdeau. Varlamov has been shutting down top goal scorers this entire playoff run. This play has differentiated from the normal Varlamov Islander fans all know. Varlamov had a 2.62 GAA, and a .914 save percentage during this season. There could be a reason why his play has drastically changed, and his name is Ilya Sorokin.

Ilya Sorokin

The Islanders signed Ilya Sorokin on July 13th, 2020. Sorokin is the best goalie outside of the NHL; his stats only back that up. For the last six years, Sorokin has had a GAA under 2.00, and 5/6 years he’s had a save percentage over .930. Most recently, Sorokin boasted a .73 GAA with a .966 save percentage during the KHL playoffs. Even though the KHL playoffs ended after the first round, it’s undeniable how dominant Sorokin was. Sorokin is now bringing his talents to the Island and putting Varlamov in competition.

Competition

Varlamov being the competitor he always has been, will not go down without a fight. “Varly” has fought against good goalies all his life. Braden Holtby, Michael Neuvirth, Philipp Grubauer, and Thomas Greiss. This competition is nothing new for the longtime NHL goalie. Varlamov, as previously stated, has been standing on his head this entire playoff run. If Varlamov continues this play into next season, it will be very hard to replace him as the starter. However, if Sorokin has been creating this pressure in practice, Sorokin could be the starter next year.

Conclusion

Seymon Varlamov is one of the best goalies in the playoffs right now. If everything is clicking in between the pipes and the forwards are scoring gritty goals, the Islanders are a hard team to beat.

UFC: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson returning to light heavyweight

Anthony Rumble Johnson

The state of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division is extremely fluid at the moment. Today, Jon Jones announced that he will be vacating the light heavyweight title.

Also, it was announced that the UFC is planning on having Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz fight at UFC 253 which will likely be for the title although not confirmed.

If that wasn’t enough news in the light heavyweight division, arguably the most terrifying knockout artist in the history of the division will be making his return.

Rumble back in the UFC

It has long been known that Anthony “Rumble” Johnson would be making his UFC return at some point. We just really didn’t know when that return would happen. We also didn’t know which weight class Rumble would be fighting in.

As Brett Okamoto reported, Rumble will be going back down to light heavyweight. The same division that saw Rumble make two runs to a title shot only to be stopped by Daniel Cormier twice.

The second loss to Cormier came at UFC 210 back in 2017. That night, Rumble announced that he would be stepping away from fighting. He was emotional in announcing his retirement.

Outside of his two losses to Cormier, Johnson went 6-0 in the light heavyweight division with five first round knockouts. Those knockouts came over guys like Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson, and current two division Bellator champion, Ryan Bader.

It will be very interesting to see how quickly the UFC decides to push Rumble. Will he get a crack at the title right away or will they give him a top contender like a Jiri Prochazka in his first fight back?

It will be interesting to see this whole thing unfold. Rumble will have to be in the USADA pool for six months before he can return to the octagon. With that, expect to see Rumble back in the first part of 2021.

 

The X-factor for the New York Jets’ offensive lies at tight end

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

The New York Jets have seen a plethora of talent come and go this offseason. From new signings to exits, to draft picks, to trades, to opt-outs. The Jets’ entire organization has been reshaped in Joe Douglas’s image. It’s only the beginning. That’s why these Jets will decide whether or not the team has success in the upcoming season.

Chris Herndon

In 2018, Chris Herndon broke onto the scene in a BIG way. Herndon took his rookie year as an opportunity to become a safety net for Sam Darnold. Their relationship blossomed over the season, and he finished the season with 39 receptions for 509 receiving yards and 4 TDs.

Then, Herndon faced a suspension and a foot injury that derailed his 2019 campaign. Now, with the absence of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, the Jets need a dynamic threat over the middle for Sam Darnold. Looking at another young QB in Lamar Jackson, his go-to target for the bulk of last season was Mark Andrews, in 2018, he put up similar numbers to Herndon.

Andrews finished with 34 receptions for 552 yards and three scores. Andrews then took a massive jump in 2019 when he caught 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 TDs. If you look at his average yards per catch, it’s around an average of 14.3 for his two seasons in the league. So, why is that important, because Herndon is in a similar realm with an average of 12.9 yards per catch.

This is of value because it demonstrates how often these guys are used over the middle. The two are similar pass catchers, and when Lamar had a stable connection with Mark Andrews, it opened everything up.

Having Andrews over the middle provides a safety net for him to take big shots. It also opened up the run game by taking either the middle linebacker or the strong safety out of the picture fairly regularly. This played a factor in the Ravens having one of the best rushing attacks in football history last year.

Now, I’m not saying Herndon is going to do all that for the Jets. What I am saying, though, is looking at the Ravens skill players, there are no big-name receivers, similarly to the Jets. What they did have was excellent game planning based around the pound you in the mouth rushing attack, the mobility of Lamar Jackson, and most importantly, in this case, a reliable tight end over the middle.

The Jets invested a lot of financial resources, and draft picks towards the betterment of the offensive line. Not only that, but they selected LaMical Perine and Frank Gore to back up Le’Veon Bell. All three backs are patient and physical rushers capable of pounding you in the mouth consistently. So with two of the three keys to what the Ravens have going for them potentially fulfilled, that puts a lot of pressure on Herndon to step up. He won’t be alone though; Ryan Griffin, who had an awe-inspiring season last year with the team, will be counted on to step up in two tight end sets and provide veteran leadership to the 24-year-old tight end. 

New York Giants: The Media’s Gets Strong First Impressions Of Joe Judge’s First Padded Practice

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants put on the pads today. Joe Judge’s squad had their first padded practice of the 2020 season today as the media watched from the sidelines. There were a number of standout plays and players, like this incredible catch by C.J. Board:

Other players impressed the media today too, like Colt McCoy, Darnay Holmes, and Corey Coleman. But what was the first impression of new head coach Joe Judge? So far the reviews have all been quite positive.

What Is The Media Saying About Joe Judge’s First Padded Practice?

After the Giants wrapped up today’s practice, the media took to Twitter to post highlights and their initial reactions. The members of the media showed off highlights from players like C.J. Board, Daniel Jones, and others. They also gave their first impressions on Joe Judge and his practice style.

Jordan Raanan of ESPN described Judge’s practice as “fast-paced” and “efficient.” He noted that there is “lots of stuff going on at the same time in different areas of the field.” Raanan also mentioned that ball security has been a priority at Giants’ practice. That can be seen as Judge gives some pointers to a player in the video below:

Raanan also described the practice environment as “intense” while pointing out that coaches were yelling and screaming non-stop with plenty of colorful language. Art Stapleton of USA Today and other sites also sounded impressed with Judge’s first padded practice. He noted that there was very little wasted time and energy. Art also agreed with Raanan, describing the practice as “high intensity.”

One interesting aspect of Judge’s practice is an emphasis on discipline and conditioning. The Giants ran sprints from sideline to sideline post-practice. Players and coaches were required to run laps after miscues or penalties. Joe Judge explained (per Jordan Raanan), “There are consequences for making mistakes.” Sterling Shepard has bought in to the new coach’s culture, and hopes the rest of his teammates do as well:

“I think it’s going to take everybody buying in. if we’re going to be the team we want to be, we have to buy into what Judge has in store for us. Don’t make mistakes. That’s how to get out of it.” – Sterling Shepard on coaches and players running laps via Matt Lombardo

So far, Joe Judge has delivered on every promise he made in his introductory press conference months ago. Judge is instilling a new, tough culture and proving to be a “teacher,” just as he promised. Time will tell if Judge’s new culture and practice routine will lead to more wins for the Giants, but so far, everything has been positive for the rookie head coach.

New York Jets: Mekhi Becton already earning rave reviews as practice opens

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

New York Jets training camp has only just begun, but first-round pick Mekhi Becton is already making a strong impression.

As the New York Jets opened training camp this week, Connor Hughes, who covers the team for The Athletic, humorously suggested that one could play a drinking game for every time someone mentions that Mekhi Becton is big.

With all due respect to Hughes, don’t do that…it won’t end well.

The Louisville alum, the Jets’ first-round selection in April’s draft (11th overall) has joined new Jets teammates in training camp activities in Florham Park this week. Standing at 6 feet 7 inches and weighing 364 pounds, Becton barely needs pads to suggest an imposing prescience. But once he donned his new green gear, he backed up his fierce reputation in style as early reports from NYJets.com indicate that Becton has made a strong first impression in his days in a new helmet.

“He made himself known out there and what he’s capable of doing,” linebacker Blake Cashman said in a report from Ethan Greenberg. “He’s a great player. He’s going to be somebody that’s going to play a long time in this league and has more potential to grow.”

“Every day I just have to watch him and watch film of not just him but everybody,” running back Frank Gore added. “The first day, he was talking to me out there and saying, ‘I’m going to get you four yards’ and I like that. He can move.”

Another report from Hughes, this one more serious in nature, mentioned that Becton perhaps earned the play of the day by knocking down blitzing backfield invader Neville Hewitt during team drills. Becton’s ability to use his renowned size

“He applies it to the field,” Gase noted in Greenberg’s report. “It’s difficult for guys to figure out how to rush him in the pass game and then in the run game it’s hard to hard to move them back, you don’t see much penetration, that line flattens out pretty fast.”

Becton may not be showing up in the Jets’ box score except under unusual circumstances, but he has the potential to be the 2020 offense’s most valuable member. The first blocker the Jets have chosen in the opening round since D’Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006, Becton is expected to take the jobs of Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell easier as they seek to change the fortunes of a stagnant offense. On average, Jets quarterbacks were sacked 3.2 times per game last season, tied for 28th in the league.

In a league dominated by offensive heroics, a stagnant offense is a big problem and leaves a massive hole in the Jets’ future. But if anyone’s going to fill it, there’s likely no better place to turn than the 6 foot, 7 inch, 364-pound blocker from Highland Spring, Virginia.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

BREAKING: UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, vacates title

UFC, Jon Jones

Earlier today, it was announced that the UFC was planning to have Dominick Reyes face Jan Blachowicz on September 26th. Many were wondering what that meant for the light heavyweight title.

Last week, Dana White said that the UFC would be having a light heavyweight title fight before the year was over. However, he didn’t say what that meant for Jon Jones. He said they were waiting to hear back. Well, the man himself just gave us our answer.

Bones going for the UFC’s heavyweight title?

It’s been clear for some time that Jon Jones was wanting to move up to the heavyweight division. There is really not a lot left for him to accomplish at 205 pounds. The only thing there would be the rematch with Dominick Reyes after many thought he lost to Reyes earlier this year.

However, the UFC‘s light heavyweight king seems to be ready to move on. I don’t believe he’s done because as of two days ago, Jones was very active on Twitter discussing his desire to compete for the heavyweight title. He made it clear that he wanted to fight Stipe Miocic after UFC 252.

Where do we go from here?

That is a very interesting question. White said in the post-fight press conference that Francis Ngannou was definitely next for the title. So does Francis still get the shot with Jones more than likely moving up?

That is a question that only the UFC knows the answer to. Obviously, there is no one more deserving of a heavyweight title shot than Ngannou. However, can the UFC turn down the opportunity to have the GOAT fight the heavyweight GOAT? Time will tell on this one.

The Yankees are better off giving LeMahieu all the time he needs to heal his thumb

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees received some news on Monday regarding their star infielder DJ LeMahieu. As opposed to Aaron Judge, who will likely be ready to return once the 10 days of his injury list assignment are up, the infielder will require more time.

According to MLB.com’s beat writer for the New York Yankees Bryan Hoch, LeMahieu will likely be sidelined for between two or three weeks. The information was provided by the manager Aaron Boone.

LeMahieu, who is pacing the American League in batting average with .411, hurt his left thumb over the weekend and was replaced by Tyler Wade.

The fact that the Yankees’ star has no fractures bodes well for a complete recovery eventually. But the team should wait out the three weeks instead of trying to rush him, to ensure there will be no re-aggravation of the injury in the short-term and that he is fully healed and shows no ill effects.

The Yankees should be cautious

The star infielder should be ready to return to action for the Yankees sometime in September. But it would be a good idea to give him all the time he needs, since the Bombers are already in good position to qualify for the playoffs and they need a healthy LeMahieu in October.

The likely replacements for whatever period of time LeMahieu is out, Tyler Wade and Thairo Estrada, are clear downgrades offensively, and while they can hold down the fort at second with the glove, it would be unfair to expect similar production with the bat from them.

Nevertheless, they are talented enough to contribute a hit or two while playing a good second base, ensuring that the injured Yankees’ star can be healthy for the stretch run and the playoffs, should the team qualify (let’s face it, their odds are very good.)

And who knows, maybe Wade and/or Thairo can show something with the bat in those two or three weeks. Let’s see how the situation plays out.