New York Jets: silver lining Marcus Maye speaks after defeat

On his first day as the defensive headliner, Marcus Maye served as one of the lone silver linings for the New York Jets’ Week 1 endeavors.

Getting the New York Jets’ “game ball” in the locker room after Sunday’s game in Orchard Park may be more of an insult than honor at this point.

The first game of the green decade was one to forget, its 27-17 final score in favor of Buffalo Bills nowhere near as indicative of just how one-sided the game really was. Buffalo scored the first 21 points to bring the nonexistent home crowd to its feet and relatively waltz through the remainder of the game.

In a game like that, silver linings are few and far between. The 69-yard scoring hook-up between Sam Darnold and Jamison Crowder seemed wildly out-of-place in such a one-sided affair. New York (0-1) could perhaps at least take assurance in the fact that Mekhi Becton played a relatively decent game on the offensive line. The box score, however, was relatively low on condolences.

A welcome exception to the trend was safety Marcus Maye.

Sunday marked perhaps one of the most important games of Maye’s NFL career. While it was the fourth season of his NFL career, it was perhaps his first as a defensive headliner. With Jamal Adams napalming his bridges to New York and C.J. Mosley opting out, Maye likely had the brightest green spotlight on him during Sunday’s proceedings. Only more eyes will linger on Maye this season because of his contract status; his rookie deal ends after Week 17.

For all intents and purposes, Maye impressed his suitors, both domestically and abroad. He led all defenders with 10 tackles and also earned two sacks of Josh Allen. Two quarterback knockdowns likewise awaited Maye, who also successfully defended two passes and forced a fumble.

According to Jets PR, Maye is “the 10th Jet since 1994 to record a sack, forced fumble, TFL and a PD in the same game”. Notable fellow Jets to achieve the feats in that span include Darrelle Revis, John Abraham, and Muhammad Wilkerson (who did it three times).

Maye felt that Buffalo didn’t do anything truly special in victory, instead claiming blame on behalf of the Jets.

“(Buffalo wasn’t) doing anything schematically. (Allen) was extending plays with his legs and getting guys open with his feet,” Maye noted in transcripts provided by the Jets. “The penalties hurt us on our end, but other than that, that was really it. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half.”

To Maye’s point, the Jets lost 95 yards on nine penalties. Buffalo (1-0) earned six first downs through laundry alone. Two of those instances came from the defense on either third downs or with at least 10 yards to go.

Overwork may have contributed to the defensive woes as a whole. The Jets earned only one first down on their first five possessions, forcing the defense back on the field as quickly as they left it. Maye wasn’t looking for excuses, however. With the Jets likely positioned as underdogs for the foreseeable future, Maye knows that better starts will be vital to making the most out of this trying season.

“You have to come out hot. You have to come out fast. You can’t wait until things get tough to get going. From the first play you have to come out,” Maye noted. “You know he’s going to run. You know he’s going to extend plays. You know he’s not going to stay in the pocket. So, we just have to execute and be disciplined in our rush lanes. When the ball is in the air, just be composed and be smart.”

The Jets’ confidence in Maye was apparent when the team granted him defensive captaincy honors alongside 12th-year veteran Steve McLendon. It was Maye who spoke not only for the Jets’ defensive shortcoming but for their pregame demonstration as well.

With athletes across North American sports engaging in demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice, the Jets opted to remain in the locker room during the opening ceremonies. According to Maye, team unity was the catalyst behind the decision.

“We just decided as a unit that we were going to hold out and stay inside during the National Anthem. We all decided that was something big for us to do. We did it as a group, as a team. Obviously, people had different perspectives on being out there on the sidelines, so we made an emphasis on just staying inside and keeping everybody together inside.”

The Jets will get a chance to redeem themselves at home next weekend against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Turnover-Free Football The Key To Beating The Steelers In Week One

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Lorenzo Carter

The 2020 NFL season kicked off today after a long, tumultuous offseason. Almost every team played on Sunday, but four teams remain unplayed heading into Monday night. The Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans will face off on Monday, as well as the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Giants are the underdogs in their Week One matchup. They are hosting the rugged Steelers defense at home while installing brand new offensive schemes. For New York, the key to winning their first game of the 2020 season is to play turnover-free football.

Jones Can Not Fumble

The Pittsburgh Steelers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL. In 2019, Pittsburgh led the NFL with 38 forced turnovers. The Steelers intercepted 20 passes (second-most) while holding opposing quarterbacks to only 3,113 passing yards (third-best).

The Giants will have a tough time airing out the football in Week One. The Steelers’ secondary is loaded with playmakers, but they also have the best pass-rush in the NFL. Pittsburgh sacked opposing quarterbacks a league-high 54 times last season. Their 30.5% pressure rate also led the NFL.

Pittsburgh’s incredible pass-rush is led by First-Team All-Pro TJ Watt. JJ Watt’s younger brother was dominant in his third professional season. Last year, TJ put together an insane 14.5 sack performance along with 8 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Watt is a versatile talent that forces turnovers with ease and impacts both the run and pass games.

There are other pass-rushers on the Steelers’ defense who pose a serious threat to New York’s new offensive line. Opposite of TJ Watt is Bud Dupree, an edge rusher who totaled 11.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles last season. Those are two talented edge rushers on the Steelers’ defense, but there is also a pretty dominant rusher on Pittsburgh’s interior. Cameron Heyward was also a First-Team All-pro, as he totaled 9 sacks and 1 forced fumble in 2019.

Daniel Jones struggled to hold onto the football last season. As a rookie, Jones fumbled 17 times in 13 starts. This is something that Danny Dimes needs to improve on to take that step forward as a franchise quarterback in 2020. With such fierce pass-rushers who force so many fumbles all over the Steelers’ defense, it is crucial that Daniel Jones keeps the ball off the turf.

Smart Decisions Necessary

Daniel Jones struggled with fumbles last year, but he kept his interception number down for the most part. But as great as the Steelers’ pass-rush is, their secondary is phenomenal, too. That unit is led by third-year superstar Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick is another Steelers player coming off of a 2019 First-Team All-Pro campaign. Minkah intercepted 5 passes last season and forced 2 fumbles. Fitzpatrick also scored 2 defensive touchdowns. He is a turnover machine that must be avoided by Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense.

The Steelers’ secondary also features veteran Joe Haden and Steven Nelson. The Steelers are bound to force turnovers all season long, but if the Giants can play turnover-free football in Week One, they can keep themselves in this game.

New York Yankees dominate Orioles in weekend sweep

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees got a much needed sweep against the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend, finally looking like the team of old. The Orioles managed to put up just three runs all weekend against the Yankees overpowered pitching.

In the first game of a doubleheader on Friday, Gerrit Cole threw undoubetedly his best game as a member of the Yankees. He pitched a seven-inning complete-game shutout, allowing just two hits. The Yankees scored six runs off nine hits, led by Brett Gardner and Kyle Higashioka, each driving in a pair of runs.

Game two of the doubleheader saw the Yankees come out with even stronger offense. The team scored 10 runs, mainly courtesy of Luke Voit, the man responsible for six of the runs. Masahiro Tanaka pitched five innings of one-run ball, as the Yankees swept the doubleheader on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The team sported slick NYPD and FDNY hats during the games.

Saturday’s game took an extra inning, but Luke Voit hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to beat the Orioles for the third time in a row. Clint Frazier was responsible for the other Yankee run, the team winning 2-1.

In Sunday’s finale, Tyler Wade hit a solo home-run early and Gleyber Torres hit a two-run, pinch-hit double to finish off the Orioles 3-1. JA Happ had the ball for the Yankees, pitching five innings of one-run ball. It was Happ’s fourth time in his last five outings with two or less runs allowed.

The Yankees are looking to build off the sweep to track down the Rays for the AL East. They are still a half game behind the Blue Jays for second place, but the two teams meet this week for a crucial three-game set in the Bronx.

New York Islanders: Recapping Game 4 loss

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have their backs against the wall following the game four loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 5 makes or breaks the series; everything the Islanders have in the tank needs to come out. Today’s loss was painful for Isles fans across the globe. The Islanders looked not only a step slower, but they looked like they didn’t want to win. Pucks weren’t getting to the net, and the defense was out of place. It all culminated in a downer of a loss for the Islanders. How did the Islanders lose today, though?

First Period

Tampa Bay absolutely dominated the first period. The Islanders only had six shots on the net, and one of them came after the final whistle blew. It was a lot of chipping and chasing for the Islanders. Something the Isles are ordinarily good at became a weakness in this period. Semyon Varlamov shined in this period as he always does. The highlight of this period came at the end where Cal Clutterbuck socked Yianni Gourde in the face after the period ended.

Second Period

The Islanders stepped up their play a bit in this period. After killing a power-play to start the period, the Islanders finally got shots on the net. Brock Nelson would open up the scoring by roofing one glove side past Vasy. A great goal after some great forechecking. Not even 10 seconds later, Blake Coleman scores and levels it up. Not even 5 seconds later, Ondrej Palat scores to put the Lightning up by one. The Isles could not cover the slot today for some reason, and it cost them.

Third Period

Tampa dominated another period, and it happened to be the most crucial one. Brayden Point would make the game 3-1 after Mat Barzal forgets to backcheck. Varlamov was great today, but it proved not to be enough. Not enough shots got on the net and too many defensive turnovers. Too many plays where a defenseman lost his guy. Half efforted performance from the Isles today.

Good News/Bad News from the New York Jets’ Week 1 loss to Buffalo

Positives were hard to come by as the New York Jets offense continued to look stagnant in their 2020 opener.

It was deja vu all over again in the worst possible way for the New York Jets. For the second straight season, the team was on the wrong end of an opening week decision to the Buffalo Bills. This one didn’t even require a blown lead, as Buffalo scored 21 unanswered points to open things up, all but the extra points coming from the arms or legs of Buffalo quarter Josh Allen. The Bills withstood limited resistance to prevail in a 27-17 final at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park.

The Jets (0-1) mounted a mini-rally in the latter stages, energized by missed field goals on the Buffalo end. Their main catalyst was a 69-yard scoring hookup between Jamison Crowder and Sam Darnold that narrowed things to 21-10 in the third quarter. However, a Chris Herndon fumble more or less any hopes of a revival in Western New York.

GOOD NEWS 

If anything, the Jets’ special teams appeared to be in somewhat decent shape. Forced into action six different times, rookie Braden Mann did what he could to make Buffalo’s job on offense a bit tougher, averaging 46.3 yards per boot, with a long of 58 in his NFL debut. Sam Ficken also made his lone field goal attempt of the afternoon, successfully converting a 31-yard triple toward the end of the first half. With the offense continuing to struggle, the kickers will be vital, whether it’s salvaging a drive that entered enemy territory or making the opposing offense work a little harder. They can’t do anything about their comrades not capitalizing on those opportunities.

In the midst of a brutal defensive performance (Allen became the first Bills quarterback to throw for 300 yards since Tyrod Taylor in December 2016), Marcus Maye started to capitalize on the opportunity Jamal Adams’ departure left open for him. It was his turn to invade the backfield this week, earning two sacks in defeat. Maye also got two additional hits on Allen and led all defenders with 10 tackles and two pass defenses.

BAD NEWS

Everything else. The 27-17 final was nowhere near as indicative of just how far the Jets have to go to catch up to the favorites in Buffalo and New England.

Le’Veon Bell missed a majority of the second half with a hamstring injury, and his time on the field wasn’t filled with much hope (6 carries, 14 yards). Darnold was somewhat better protected, sacked “only” three times, but the run game failed to generate further hype, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry.

Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Jets. It’s obvious that not everything is Darnold’s fault, as the third-year man is desperate for assistance, but desperation toss in the latter stages of the first half killed momentum the Jets were trying to create. Herndon’s fumble, coming in his first full game since the end of the 2018 season, more or less sealed the deal in favor the Bills.

Penalties also were the negative name of the game for the Jets. Roughing the passer calls were far too common, as the Jets were a bit overzealous in trying to stop Allen (who nonetheless had 60 additional yards on the ground). Overly conservative coaching decisions and playcalling also distracted from the cause, with defensive lapses leading to Buffalo’s triumph.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Jets return to action at MetLife Stadium next week, taking on the defending NFC finalist San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: Good news and bad news in fifth-straight win, playoff picture shifting

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees secured their fifth consecutive victory on Sunday, with a final of 3-1. They have since swept the Baltimore Orioles over four games and picked up one against the Toronto Blue Jays this past week.

The Yankees will now host the Blue Jays in a three-game series starting on Tuesday with Deivi García on the mound. This will be a good statement for the team and their recent positive momentum. They are set to gain back Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton next weekend, which should provide a massive offensive boost.

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news, the Yankees walked away with another victory, despite waiting until the final moments to take the lead. Scoring just five runs over the past two games wouldn’t indicate an impressive offensive performance, but it got the job done. On the day, two batters earned a minimum of two hits, including Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar. However, it was Gleyber Torres that came to the rescue as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

Torres doubled to deep right-centerfield, scoring Frazier and Aaron Hicks. His late-game heroics have given the Yankees more momentum heading into an important series against Toronto. In addition, starter JA Happ had another stout outing, lasting 5.0 inning and allowing five hits and one earned run. Over 73 pitches, he was fantastic and kept the Yankees alive for their eventual victory. The bullpen also performed very well, allowing just want to head over the final four innings.

The Yankees are still penciled into the second Wild Card spot, just behind the Cleveland Indians, but they’re putting a nice cushion between themselves and the Orioles. Next week will be important in cementing a spot for the postseason.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news was mainly offensive. Gary Sanchez struck out twice over four at-bats, lowering his average to .127. The bottom of the order continued to struggle, aside from a Tyler Wade solo homer in the third inning. Thairo Estrada has been a serious liability and must be replaced as soon as possible. Gio Urshela is set to return soon, which will move DJ LeMahieu back to his natural second-base position. Estrada currently has a .170 average. Altogether, the Yankees played a solid game, and Luke Voit’s off-game was an anomaly.

Yankees’ Aaron Boone tells Clint Frazier’s future with Judge and Stanton set to return

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

It looks like the New York Yankees’ Clint Frazier has finally earned his place in the Yankee lineup.  Bryan Hoch who covers the Yankees for MLB.com, reported on Twitter:

How will Judge/Stanton coming back affect Clint Frazier?

“I think Clint is very much in this mix,” Boone said. “It may mean more left-field reps for Clint, but Clint has earned his way into our lineup on a regular basis.”

Clint Frazier has tried to earn his spot with the Yankees since 2017, and 150 games for the Yankees. No matter how hard he tried, his fielding has held him back.  Frazier known for his quick bat has always hit well, showing signs at times of stardom, his fielding, and attitude, at times kept him being sent back and forth on the Scranton shuttle.  But this year, with all the Yankee injuries he was called up.  It all started in summer camp when Frazier proclaimed he would wear a mask all season to protect his fellow players. A new maturity was exhibited.  Frazier did well in well in spring training and summer camp but still was not in the starting lineup.

When he was finally called up to replace the injured Aaron Judge, a new Clint Frazier appeared in the outfield at Yankee Stadium, I guy with improved footwork, and a guy that made flying catch after flying catch, often slamming his body to the sod to make a play.

On the hitting side of the game “Red Thunder” has a .270 batting average with 5 home runs and an amazing .900 OPS.  These factors have led New York Yankees Aaron Boone, to believe, he now deserves to be a regular playing Yankee.

Frazier’s big break came in July of 2016 when the Indians traded Clint to the Yankees in a multi-trade that got the Indians, Andrew Miller. Clint was assigned the triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. In 2017, Clint played in 73 games for the Rail Riders amassed 42 RBI’s, a batting average of .257 with 12 home runs. The reason he played only 73 games is that he was called up to the stadium on July 1st of 2017. Big Red or Red Thunder as he is called, enamored himself to Yankee fans on July 8th, when hit his first career walk-off home run, giving the Yankees a win over the Brewers.

This year in spring training and the delayed summer camp, a new more mature Clint Frazier had appeared. He played well behind the plate and in the field during the training camps. After baseball restarted after the coronavirus shutdown, Frazier was the only player that elected to play in the field and at-bat with the use of a face mask. When interviewed he stated that it wasn’t a problem, he was wearing the mask to protect his fellow players.

But even that new maturity, it didn’t help Frazier. When the New York Yankees announced their 40 man roster at the beginning of the season, Frazier found himself back at Scranton. Giancarlo Stanton injured a hamstring running the bases at Tampa. The New York Yankees in a somewhat puzzling move called up Thairo Estrada instead of the obvious left field replacement, Clint Frazier. In this shortened season, Yankee and Clint Frazier fans are wondered if he will see major league action this year. With almost any other team he would be hitting third or fourth in their lineup, but with the Yankees, he continued to sit and wait for another chance at Yankee stardom.

When Aaron Judge pulled a calf after a game at Tropicana Field, Estrada was sent back down and Clint Frazier was called up.  His excellent play in the field, and his ability to get on base, has earned the trust of manager Boone, and now it appears that he has finally found his place on the team.

New York Liberty sign Kiah Stokes to contract extension

One of the New York Liberty’s “baby vets” has re-upped with the team after developing a three-point prowess.

Kiah Stokes is taking home quite the souvenir from her visit to Florida.

Hours before her New York Liberty’s Bradenton bubble finale against the Dallas Wings on Sunday (12 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Go/CBSSN), Stokes was granted a contract extension through the 2021 season. The University of Connecticut alumna is set to wrap up her fifth season with the team after arriving as a first-round pick (11th overall) in 2015.

“Kiah is an integral part of our team and she has shown tremendous growth in her game both offensively and defensively this season,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a team statement. “As one of the best shot blockers in the league, her physicality and ability to stretch the defense is something that is integral to the Liberty’s culture and future success.”

Stokes, 27, is one of the most experienced players on a Liberty roster hosting six rookies, having returned to the team after spending all of the 2019 WNBA season overseas. She is the only player to start and partake in every Liberty game this season. In only her fourth season, Stokes became the Liberty’s all-time leader in blocks (at 187 entering Sunday).

This season, Stokes discovered a newfound three-point prowess, encouraged by the oversight of new head coach Walt Hopkins. Having taken only three in her WNBA career entering the bubble, she took 83 this season. She sank a career-best five in Saturday’s showdown with the Washington Mystics.

It’s possible that this newfound talent could fit in well when the Liberty’s sharp-shooting veterans Rebecca Allen, Marine Johannes, and Asia Durr presumably return in 2021. Each opted out of the Bradenton setup in the wake of the ongoing health crisis.

“Stokes has been a rock for this group in a lot of ways,” Hopkins said prior to Sunday’s game. “In spite of her going through what has to have been the most difficult mental season in terms of being uncomfortable, when you’re uncomfortable, you’re able to grow.”

A Cedar Rapids native, Stokes is the daughter of former NBA draft pick Greg Stokes, who played two seasons in Philadelphia and Sacramento. She is also well-accomplished on the international level, earning back-to-back Turkish Women’s Basketball Cups with Fenerbahçe, a long-running squad based in Istanbul.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees Opinion: Yankees dump Sanchez, is it the real deal Realmuto a Yankee instead?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

For the New York Yankees, and all of baseball the regular, or shall I say irregular 2020 baseball season, is nearly over, with just two weeks of games left. It’s been a disappointing season for the Yankees, that started with so much hope. The Yankees during the offseason signed arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole, setting up a 2020 season that those in know said, would be the Yankees year to gain their 28th World Championship.

Fast forward to mid-September.  The Yankees are in third place in the East and have shown in many weeks, that they were not postseason bound. Yes, the Yankees have shown some life in the last week, but with the season almost over is it too late? Obviously, the Yankee injuries, have again taken their toll on the team.  But there are systemic problems that are bothering the Yankee brass.  Inconsistent pitching from all Yankee pitchers, and a great lack of Yankees hitting all year. This is my guess, but if they aren’t concerned about these two areas, they should be.

Let’s pretend for a few minutes that the New York Yankees get to the postseason, they meet up in a five-game series with the Oakland Athletics, and go 2-3 and have another failed postseason. The Yankees lost to the Astros in 2017, the Red Sox in 2018, and again to the Astros in 2019. The question is, how long are the Yankees willing to fail?  Hal Steinbrenner has spent too much much on Gerrit Cole to waste his future with the Yankees.

As a life long Yankee fan, I don’t want any of this to happen.  I want to see the reintroduction of James Paxton, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gio Urshela to lift the Yankees to new heights, reach the postseason, and finally, win that World Championship that they have missed out on since 2009. But at the same time, I can not ignore the problems the Yankees have.

Here is where the opinions come in. Should the Yankees fail to get to the postseason, or win a championship, this upcoming offseason will see one of the biggest team shakeups in decades.  First of all, Brett Gardner, DJ LeMahieu, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Adam Warren will all become free agents after this season. The only guaranteed return here that I see, is DJ LeMahieu, although even he may not be offered a long term deal, due to his age.

Looking at Brett Gardner, the heart and soul of the New York Yankees, his performance this year proves that his 2019 season was true, a fluke. Although his defense and running have mostly remained intact, his hitting is near nonexistent.  However, even his defense has shown some holes in the last few weeks. Last night he was caught stealing twice in the same game, something a Gardner in his prime would never allow.  Gardner’s time with the Yankees is over.  The Yankees will buy out his 2.5 million option.

The return of James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka is questionable.  Paxton with his injuries and Tanaka who is aging and has not pitched particularly well in the past two years. It just may be time for the Yankees to face reality, and with the returning Luis Severino, and the Yankees best pitcher in 2019, Domingo German returning for the 2021 season, it may be time to clean house, rely on them, maybe an offseason pickup, and the group of emerging Yankee prospects to carry the team forward.

Looking at the Yankees offensive situation, the Yankees are not likely to give up on slugger Aaron Judge, even though he seems to be constantly injured. Giancarlo Stanton who can opt-out of his contract this year is unlikely to do that unless he completely loses his mind.  Mike Ford, despite his above-average performance last year, is probably gone after this season, along with long time Tyler Wade, who just can’t hit.  The future of Gleyber Torres who has the highest number of errors of any shortstop in baseball, his days may be numbered as well.  Miguel Andujar has not found a place on the Yankees this year.  He also hasn’t hit well and may be used as a trade piece.

The glaring problem with the 2020 Yankee hitting failures, is Gary Sanchez, who is either injured or trying to get his swing back and has the lowest batting average of any baseball catcher.  He is a considerable contributor to several Yankees losses. For several years now the Yankee brass has exhibited strong support for their catcher of the future, but in private are they asking themselves, how many more years of this can we endure?

Maybe it’s time to accept reality and get a real catcher like J.T. Realmuto, who is a free agent after this season. Getting Realmuto would cost double what Sanchez is making, but he too only has a one year contract.  Realmuto has been good for years, he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger for the last two years and earned a Gold Glove award last season.  This season his batting average is .267 compared to Sanchez’s .124.  He has 11 home runs in the short season.  That’s the equivalent of nearly 30 in a normal season.

One thing is for sure, if the New York Yankees don’t win it this year, there will be big changes, maybe not the ones that I have outlined,  but next year’s Yankee team will not look like this season. The Yankee’s purchase of Gerrit Cole, regardless of the public demeanor, says that the Yankee front office is tired of coming up short.

 

If the playoffs started today, who would start game 3 for the New York Yankees?

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

After an extremely rough and depressing stretch, the New York Yankees finally look like themselves again. The bombers have won four straight games to pull within a half game of the second place Toronto Blue Jays.

A week ago, people were starting to wonder if the Yankees would even make the playoffs. Now, everything is starting to click for the Yankees from their hitting to their starting pitching and bullpen. Now, I’m starting to think about the playoffs and this Yankees rotation.

For the Yankees, the first two games are relatively easy choices. Gerrit Cole would obviously get the ball in game one, and likely Tanaka would get the ball in game two. However, game three isn’t very clear. Who would the Yankees start in a game 3 in the playoffs this year?

The Yankees Options?

Fortunately, the Yankees do have a few options for a third playoff game. If they were in a be in a do or die game three in the wild card round, Aaron Boone has three guys that he could look to for a solid start. None would probably give the Yankees fan base an extreme amount of confidence.

J.A. Happ

The first option would be the veteran lefty J.A. Happ. Happ has started six games this year for the Yankees and he’s pitched to a 1-2 record with a 4.31 ERA. Now, he has been much better over his last four starts. Happ has pitched to a 2.59 ERA since his August 16th start.

While Yankees fans aren’t extremely comfortable with Happ, he honestly might be the safest choice. He’s pitched in the playoffs, and when he’s on, you know what he’s going to give you. Given the experience, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Happ get the ball.

Jordan Montgomery

The next option would be the big lefty, Jordan Montgomery. There were high expectations for Montgomery entering the season given what he did as a rookie, but he’s seen a mixed bag of results so far in his 2020 campaign for the Yankees.

Montgomery has pitched to a 2-2 record with a 4.76 ERA in eight starts this year. Montgomery looked really good yesterday against the Orioles, but this comes just two starts after he couldn’t get out of the first against the Rays. Montgomery is a solid pitcher, but I’m not sure I’d trust him with the ball in a game 3.

Deivi Garcia

The final option for the Yankees would be the rookie, Deivi Garcia. I can honestly say that Garcia has far surpassed my expectations in his first three starts, Garcia has pitched to a 1-1 record with a 3.06 ERA.

His last start blew me away. With the Yankees sputtering, Garcia went out and pitched seven strong innings against the Blue Jays leading the Yankees to a win that snapped their losing streak. Garcia has proven that he belongs in the rotation. Would Boone give him the ball in a game 3 is the question.

The Yankees Decision?

I think that ultimately we are going to need to watch how these three pitch the rest of the season. If things ended today, I think that the Yankees would probably lean towards a rotation of Cole-Tanaka-Happ in the playoffs. While many would love to see Garcia get that start, I think Boone values the experience of Happ.