New York Giants: 3 Positive Takeaways from Week One

New York Giants

The New York Giants started their season off with a primetime Monday night game. They hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers, a matchup between two historic teams with ten Super Bowls between the two. The game was highly anticipated on both sides as it was the start of the new season (one that was up in the air due to the pandemic). Unfortunately for New York and its fans, the excitement around the game ended with a 26-16 loss.

The game was one that was really sloppy and was painful to watch at times for Giants fans. Daniel Jones threw two interceptions, one coming in the red zone, and the defense let up ten fourth-quarter points. However, things were not all bad for Big Blue.

Here are three positive takeaways from week one:

Front Seven Improvement: 

The front seven was the strongest part of the defense on Monday and probably the whole team. The unit got out to a very strong start early as they held Jame Conner to nine yards on six carries. They were also applying constant pressure on Big Ben, disrupting many of his throws. This was something that was not present at all last season and contributed to New York’s early lead. 

With a deeper dive, we can see that the linebackers individually played very impressive for their first time together as a unit. Blake Martinez had an impressive Giants debut, which earned him a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 83.9, seventh among all linebackers. Martinez had 12 (8 solo) total tackles and one for a loss. Martinez looked like he was and can continue to be a very solid leader for this group. The former Packer’s formidable debut was also helped with Lorenzo Carter’s strong game. 

Carter was very active all over the field as he was helpful in the run support, pass rush, and pass coverage. Carter ended up with seven tackles (four solo), three QB pressures, and one QB hit. This helped the former Georgia Bulldog earn a PFF grade of 81.5, tenth out of all edge rushers. 

These two linebackers were also helped by a handful of players who put up solid performances. Some of these players were Markus Golden (three tackles), Oshane Ximines (one QB hit), and Logan Ryan, who played in the box at times. This was a group that many people worried about coming into the season but put a strong showing against one of the better teams in the league to silence the doubters. As time goes on, this group should continue to gel and get better.

As for the defensive line, it was arguably the best Giants personnel group on Monday night. The unit recorded three tackles for loss, two sacks, and three QB hits total. Specifically, Leonard Williams recorded one sack, two tackles for loss, three QB pressures, and two QB hits. He put on a strong showing and really bounced back from a career-low year last year. He was finally able to get his first sack since 2018, and this should help him get rolling going forward.

Williams was not alone in his success as Dexter Lawrence, and Dalvin Tomlinson also helped him. Lawrence had a strong opening game two his sophomore season as he recorded three solo tackles and a sack. He was a phenomenal presence in both the run and pass game on Monday. The Clemson product will likely look to build on this next week against a questionable Bears offensive line. Lawrence and Williams makeup two huge rushers on the edge and are joined by Dalvin Tomlinson in the middle. While Tomlinson did not stand out on the stat sheet, one tackle, he was a stuffer in the run game, clogging up various running lanes. This play helped earn him a PFF grade of 78.9. 

This group, combined with the linebackers, did not play perfectly but well enough to create a lot of optimism going forward in the year. The front seven, which was once questioned, should be one of the best groups that Big Blue has.

Darius Slayton:

The MVP of Monday night for the New York Giants was easily Darius Slayton. He had six catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown was a 41-yard deep shot that boosted the Giants to a second-quarter 10-3 lead. He beat Steven Nelson outside and caught a beautiful deep ball from Daniel Jones. It was a very impressive play from Slayton, but one that is nothing out of the ordinary from what the Giants have seen from Slayton in his short career.

In just 15 career NFL games, Darius Slayton already has 842 yards and ten touchdowns. He was only a fifth-round draft pick last season but proved his worth early and quickly became Daniel Jones’ favorite target. Slayton’s strong start to his career has helped him become the Giants’ number one receiver, and New York hopes he can stay this way. 

Slayton’s success has not only been on a local level as he leads all pass catchers in touchdowns over the past 13 games (10 touchdowns). He is becoming a dominant force that even some of the best defense like Pittsburgh are not able to stop. The true test will be if Slayton can continue this hot streak going forward in 2020.

Coaching:

The final positive takeaway from Monday is the coaching. With a whole new staff consisting of Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Patrick Graham, not much was expected week one against one of the better teams in the league. However, the trio of new Giants quietly put together a solid coaching debut.

Judge proved to be a decent manager of the game and while they did not win, the Giants were in it for the majority of the contest. He let his assistant coaches do what they needed, and this proved to be a good strategy for the team. Joe Judge provided a good leadership presence, and while things do not get perfect, he had a solid start, he can build off of.

As for the offense, Jason Garrett was also good overall in his debut. He called some amazing plays such as the fake end around screen to Barkley that went for 38 yards. He did a good job getting the ball in his two best playmakers’ hands (Barkley and Slayton) as the two totaled for 27 touches. While his run game approach seemed to lack heavily, the former Cowboys head coach drew up some very nice pass plays for Daniel Jones that found a lot of success. It is clear that the run attack needs to improve as Barkley only averaged 0.4 yards per carry, but this will be something Jason Garrett will work on. It seems like Garrett is a talented play-caller that should improve as he continues to get acclimated to his group.

Finally, Patrick Graham was probably the best out of the three coaches highlighted here. He drew up various intelligent blitz schemes and worked around his lack of talent at cornerback. While he did allow ten fourth-quarter points, Graham kept one of the best offenses in 2018 quiet for three quarters. His coaching performance is something that Graham and Giants fans should be proud of as he was working with what was considered one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Once the talent on the defense improves, Graham’s full potential as a coordinator will be reached.

New York Jets RB Frank Gore ready for one more San Francisco memory

Frank Gore’s first chance in an expanded role with the New York Jets comes against original employers from the Bay Area.

September has been a delightful throwback to the late 2000s/early 2010s for Miami sports fans. The Heat are taking on the Boston Celtics in the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Marlins are aiming for their first winning season since 2009. On Sunday, Hurricanes legend Frank Gore will partake in an NFL football game involving the San Francisco 49ers.

Gore isn’t donning San Francisco’s red and gold this time around, rather the green and white of the New York Jets (1 p.m. ET, Fox). The Jets’ 2020 MetLife Stadium debut comes against the team that hosted Gore’s heyday. After three seasons in Coral Gables, the Magic City native Gore entered the league as the 65th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. He has gone from third-round pick to third all-time in rushing in the ensuing 15 seasons, standing at 15,371 yards entering Sunday. Only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726) remain ahead of him.

The first 11,073 of Gore’s yards came with the 49ers, while the most recent 24 came with the Jets (0-1) in their Week 1 loss to Buffalo. New York is the fourth stop Gore has made on his football tour since departing San Francisco after the 2014 campaign. This will be the second time that Gore faces the team that gave him NFL life, earning 86 yards as a member of the Colts in an October 2017 win.

If these truly are the final NFL days for the 37-year-old Gore, his career may be coming full circle in an undesirable fashion. Gore was a rare silver lining of consistency during the 49ers’ mid-2000s rebuild kickstarted by the departures of Terrell Owens, Garrison Hearst, and Jeff Garcia after the 2003 campaign. A streak of eight consecutive non-winning seasons went by a little faster thanks to Gore’s prowess. One such occasion was a 214-yard single-game output in just his second season, earned during a 20-14 win over Seattle in 2006.

San Francisco eventually got it together in 2011, upon the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Three consecutive playoff trips followed, all of which ended no earlier than the NFC title game. Nowadays, Gore has eschewed ring chasing for latching on to budding football projects. He previously worked with the late rebuild projects in Miami and Buffalo, making a playoff appearance in the latter. Now he’s working with a Jets squad that’s eager to make a trying season of transition move a little more smoothly.

So far, it appears the transition is going well.

“Everything that comes out of his mouth is kind of like wisdom,” fellow Jets rusher Le’Veon Bell said in training camp report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “”The fact that he’s been playing so long is because of his training and the things he does in the offseason.” He tells me, ‘You have the same trainer I have and you’re doing the same things I am, so you can do it, Le’Veon.’ That’s why I feel like I’m going in the right direction, and I feel like I’m doing the right things correctly because I’m hearing it from guys who have done it already.”

Gore was likely added for depth and inspiration, but the San Francisco reunion coincides with Gore taking on increased duties in the Jets’ offense. With Bell on short-term injured reserve (hamstring) with other offensive weapons and depth relatively short behind him (Josh Adams, newcomer Kalen Ballege, injured rookie La’Mical Perine), Gore will be likely be heavily relied upon when the Jets welcome in the defending NFC champions. San Francisco (0-1) allowed 180 yards on the ground in their narrow opening weekend loss to Arizona.

True to form, it’s a challenge Gore is ready to take. He was familiarity with Adam Gase’s offense during the 2018 season with Miami’s other football squad, the Dolphins. Gase and Gore also collaborated in 2008, when the former was an offensive assistant in the Bay Area.

“I know that’s a big load, Le’Veon not playing this week and being out for a couple weeks,” Gore said to team reporter Randy Lange. “But even when Le’Veon was here, I was always preparing like I was the guy just because you never know what happens. That’s why every day I go out on the practice field and prepare like I do.”

“He looks the same as he did 12 years ago,” Gase said in Cimini’s report. “I can’t explain it. It’s unbelievable how, when I watch him, I flash back to 2008. He looks the same. I don’t know how. It doesn’t make sense, but Frank has been one who refuses to listen to what anybody else says. He goes out there and he’s an old-school football player. He looks good. His burst looks good. His vision is never going to change. It’s going to be like that when he’s 60. Frank is special. There’s a reason why he’s third all-time in rushing yards.”

Having never earned more than 1,000 yards with the Hurricanes, it might be a little shocking to some to see Gore rank among the most illustrious rushers in NFL history. But Gore knows to cherish every moment, every play he has left….because he knows how it nearly never happened.

Gore partook in Miami’s legendary championship trek as a true freshman in 2001, backing up fellow future NFL back Clinton Portis en route to their Rose Bowl blowout over Nebraska. But prior to his sophomore campaign, a torn ACL ended affairs before they ever truly began.

After watching Miami return to the national title game (their controversial Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State) and his successor Willis McGahee break Coral Gables records left and right, Gore returned to the backfield in 2003…ironically sharing duties with the late Walter Payton’s son Jarrett (who made a name for himself in NFL Europe). Gore began his season with three straight triple-digit games in yardage (including 127 yards and the finishing touchdown in a 23-point comeback win over Florida). But another torn ACL ended his year early, along with, some felt, his football career entirely.

Instead, Gore returned to play a full 12-game season, featuring a collegiate-career-best 191 yards in an upset win over Virginia. San Francisco took him in the third-round that spring.

“Me going through all the injuries, and then when I get to the league just hearing all the negative stuff, I set my goals and said I’ll never let a man judge me,” Gore said of his injuries to Jim Trotter of NFL.com back in May. “The only man I’ll let judge me is that man up above. But I was determined to be the best in my class.”

Irony continues to reign in the fact that Gore’s new duties coincide with the 49ers’ visit. His former stomping grounds of Candlestick Park having been torn down, time will tell if Gore is able to visit Levi’s Stadium as a player, where fans of the ovaled SF can pay give him a proper send-off.

If such a reunion doesn’t come to pass, Gore has nonetheless ensured his career will end where it began. The rusher confirmed to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area that he and the team have an agreement in place that will allow him to retire as a member of the 49ers. His No. 21, one he currently bears with the Jets, will likely be retired alongside the San Francisco greats like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, and Ronnie Lott. Despite the Niners’ illustrious history, no rusher has earned red and gold immortality since High McElhenny and Joe Perry were invited in 1971.

“That’s the team that gave me the opportunity to do something I always wanted to do when I was a kid, play NFL ball,” Gore said in Maiocco’s report. “I was there for 10 great years. Been on bad teams and been on great teams. I love it out there.”

For now, though, the 49ers are only a challenger in Gore’s path. He may not be ring chasing from a traditional standpoint, but that doesn’t mean he’s not looking to earn a few wins on his potential way out.

“”I want to win, especially coming off a loss last week,” Gore said, per Lange. “I want us to look a lot better as an offensive team, and that’s doing whatever it takes to win.

“It could be the 49ers, it could be Seattle, whoever. I just want to get a win.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: Find out what Brett Gardner has planned for the 2021 season

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have been blessed with many great players in their illustrious history. It is questionable as to whether Brett Gardner is one of them. But one thing is for sure, he has been the heart and soul of the Yankees and the leader in the Clubhouse for the past thirteen years. He is also the longest-tenured Yankee and the last player to have played during the Yankees last World Series win in 2009. He has also been a mentor teaching “baby bomber” how to play the game by example and how to be a Yankee. Gardner is most known for his excellent defense, his speed, and base stealing ability. Although he has made his share of offensive hits and home runs that have contributed to the Yankees’ success.  Last year, he had one of the best seasons of his career, hitting 28 home runs. Gardner has said throughout his career that he wants to remain a New York Yankee and retire from the game as one.

This year as his offense fell off, he recently has lost his starting job in the lineup, to the up and coming Clint Frazier.  He has been relegated to second string, hitting just .198 while still having a fairly respectable .721 OPS. Last offseason, he and the Yankee brass negotiated a one year contract with an option for 2021.  If the Yankees don’t exercise the option, they will have to buy out his contract for $2.5 million.  But before Friday’s game at Fenway Park, Gardner let his plan be known for the 2021 season. At age 37, he doesn’t want this to be his last year with the Yankees.

“I definitely don’t want my last games played to be in front of no fans and I’d love to see my family to have the chance to see me play again, so I would love to play next year. I feel healthy and strong. I know that this season hasn’t maybe gone how I wanted from a numbers’ standpoint, but recently I have been better. I’ve felt much better and hopefully I’ll continue to play well down the stretch.”

Brett Gardner has played his best baseball of the season in September, as he’s hitting .429 average over his last six games with two homers, a triple, five RBI, and five walks. Also, Yankee analytics has indicated some of his earlier poor hitting was more bad luck than an inability to hit, with many balls going directly at opponents.

“I want to play,” Gardner said. “Playing in front of no fans, my family obviously can watch on TV and see me play, but it’s not the same as in person. So I would love that opportunity to do that again next year. I feel great and I feel like I can still do it. “We’ll see what happens in a few months, but right now I’m just focused on this team and trying to go into the playoffs strong and hopefully win a World Series.”

Brett grew up on a farm in the shadow of his Dad who was a minor league baseball player in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. So it was natural that Brett would play baseball for the local American Legion post and also play the game when he attended Holly Hill Academy. When he attended the College of Charleston in 2001, he decided to try out for their baseball team as a walk-on. He ended up playing 3 years as a starter for the team. In his senior year, he batted .447, tied for the most hits in all of college baseball with 122, established a Cougars record with 85 runs scored, and led the Southern Conference with 38 stolen bases. After his senior year, the Yankees selected Brett in the third round of the draft.

Brett worked his way throught the New York Yankees minor league system and made his major league debut in 2008.  Gardner, on September 21, 2008, he scored the final run of Major League Baseball in old Yankee Stadium history as a pinch-runner for Jason Giambi, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Canó in the seventh inning of an eventual 7–3 win for the Yankees over the Baltimore Orioles.

In 2019 Brett played some of his best baseball of his career, but some of Gardner’s worth was reduced when newly acquired DJ LeMahieu took over his spot as the everyday leadoff hitter.  Now in 2020, Clint Frazier has taken his place in most lineups now that the Yankees have awarded him a place in the permanent lineup.  It would seem like the loveable “Gardy’s” days are numbered. In a poll I created earlier in the year, Brett Gardner came out as the Yankee fans favorite player, just above Aaron Judge. The offseason will determine if Gardner ever wears the pinstripes again.

 

New York Yankee Analysis: What will the Yankees look like in the postseason?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole, James Paxton

Now that it is almost a surety that the New York Yankees will be taking part in the postseason, its time to look at how the Yankees will make their way through the postseason.  With only eight games left to play, in this coronavirus season, the Yankees are on their longest winning streak since last season. Tonight, in Boston, the Yankees will go after their 10th win in a row.  The Yankees have had an up and down season this year.  The pitching hasn’t always been great, and at times, the Yankees offense has been nowhere to be found. But in the last ten days, the Yankee turnaround has been near historic.  The pitching has been good, the bullpen has been good, and most surprising is, the batting has come alive with all players healthy.  You could say in the Blue Jays series that it replicated “murderer’s row,” scoring 43 runs in just three games.

The present New York Yankees are positioning themselves to navigate the postseason and possibly win a 28th World Championship for their fans waiting since 20019 for another World Series win. The Yankees front office took a big step in the offseason to give themselves a chance to do that. They went out and got the best pitcher on the market, in Gerrit Cole. According to who you talk too, he is one of the top three pitchers in baseball.  Many say he is the best.  In the twists and turns of this crazy coronavirus season, a postseason formula was developed including an expansion that would have 16 teams qualify for the postseason. They also changed the one-game wild-card game into a format that will consist of eight teams from each league, seeded in the following order: division winners by record (1-3), runner-up teams by record (4-6), and the two best teams remaining (7-8). All games in this format will be best of three and will be played at the home ballparks of the higher seeds. Positioning will be determined by winning percentage, not the number of games won.

In the next round, the Divisional Series that will be played in “bubbles,” it will be the best of five series. This will allow Yankee ace Gerrit Cole to start two games in the Division Series (although on short rest), Championship Series, and the World Series.  This is a tremendous plus for the Yankees as Cole traditionally gets better as the season progresses and pitched very well in the postseason last year. The Yankees got a blow when James Paxton went down with a flexor strain, then he reinjured it, making it unlikely that he will be ready to pitch in the postseason, as of today, he isn’t even thrown from flat ground.  But on August 30th, pitching sensation prospect Deivi Garcia make his major league debut, replacing Paxton. He now has pitched in four games.  The Yankees won three of them, with Garcia registering a 3.28  ERA with six strikeouts per game.

Masahiro Tanaka has been inconsistent this year, although he has pitched his best in his last few games.  But, the entry of Deivi Garcia into the picture is interesting.  If the Yankees win Deivi Garcia’s final two starts of the season, one against the Red Sox and one against the Miami Marlins, the Yankees may be hard-pressed not to have Garcia be the number two starter in the postseason. Over their last ten games before last night, Yankees starters have a 2.18 ERA.

In a typical season, the Yankee bullpen would be set up to come in after five innings and close down games, however this year, without days off during the different series, that may not be possible.  The Yankees bullpen of Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees premier relievers, will not pitch several days in a row. The Yankees may use Jonathan Loaisiga and Jonathan Holder to relieve some of that strain. But one thing for sure is Cole and Garcia’s ability to go deep into games will be a definite plus for the Yankees.

Long time-respected bullpen coach Mike Harkey spoke to the starting pitching and the bullpen.

“It’s definitely going to be tricky, I think it’s somewhere where you’re obviously going to see teams that have deeper starting pitching that are probably gonna benefit from it more. We’re hoping with the addition of Cole that will clean some things up for us and hopefully give us a chance to get the kind of rest needed for relievers to win a World Series.”

On this past Tuesday, New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone weighed in on what the postseason pitching would resemble.

“It’s gonna be hard because when you’re talking about starting pitching,” Boone said Tuesday. “We’re gonna make sure Gerrit Cole and Masa are eligible to pitch in that first round no matter what. That may compromise what we’re able to do that final weekend of the season. We’re gonna try as best we can to strike that balance and try and win as many games as we can, but it’s about getting into the dance (postseason), too.”

As far as the offensive situation, the Yankees are set up the best they have been during the entire 2020 season. If you watched last night’s Yankee Red Sox game, you saw what will likely be the lineup that will be used for the postseason. The Yankees have not had their desired lineup for most of the year, due to a number of injuries.  The “machine” DJ LeMahieu will likely lead off for the Yankees throughout the postseason. Aaron Judge will start in his traditonal second second spot in the lineup.  Giancarlo Stanton and the AL home run leader Luke Voit. Some games could possibly include Aaron Hicks.  Rounding out the Yankee lineup will be Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez and Clint Frazier holding down the 9th spot. In some games, the lineup might be shook up due to matchups.

If the New York Yankees winning ways continue, they will go into the postseason, with the ability to navigate the postseason, pitching and hitting better than they have in the last several seasons.  To win a World Series all parts of the game, from pitching, to hitting, to defense, all have to be operating on all cylinders.

New York Mets: Betances is ramping up his activity and is close to return

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Dellin Betances

Outside of Edwin Diaz, the New York Mets have had some trouble navigating the last few innings of ballgames in 2020. Seth Lugo was taken off the relief corps and sent to the rotation, Robert Gsellman was lost to injury, and Dellin Betances has been dealing with his own physical ailments, as well. Other hurlers just haven’t shown the necessary consistency for the unit to offer reliability.

Speaking of Betances, the Mets’ offseason signing, who has been dealing with a right lat injury since late August, threw a simulated game at the team’s alternate training site on Thursday according to the team’s official site.

The righty has been ramping up his activity this week and could be an option to return in short notice. Once he does, he will help set up for Diaz and try to bring some stability to a unit that badly needs it.

The struggling Mets’ reliever is looking to return to form

The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to Betances. In 13 games and 10.1 innings, he has a 6.10 ERA, but a much more decent 4.26 FIP. Still, his performance level has been far from the one he showed while dominating the American League from 2014 to 2018 with the New York Yankees.

A partial Achilles tear in September ruined his offseason and forced him to take a one-year deal with the New York Mets for less than what he would have collected under normal circumstances. He has struggled with injuries and fastball velocity for months now, and it has reflected on his numbers.

For his career, Betances has averaged 14.44 K/9 and 4.06 BB/9. This season, the Mets’ right-hander has 6.97 K/9 and 6.10 BB/9. He just hasn’t been himself, primarily due to the toll that injuries have had in his body.

For now, the Mets are hoping he can close the season on a high note, but he has to return to the mound first.

UFC: Is tonight do or die for Cowboy Cerrone?

Donald Cerrone

One of the more popular UFC fighters over the last decade has been Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-15, 1 NC). Cowboy gained popularity due to his attitude regarding fighting. Cerrone would step in on a minute’s notice to take any fight.

Over the years, Cerrone has put together an impressive UFC resume. While never capturing a UFC title, Cerrone holds multiple records with the promotion. He holds the most wins, the most finishes, the most bonuses and the most knockdowns in promotional history.

However, going into this next fight, the tune is a little different for Cowboy. Cerrone is starting to get up their in age, and he’s entering this contest on a four fight losing streak. That being said, is this fight at UFC Vegas 11 tonight do or die?

Cowboy’s UFC Future

There is no doubting the fact that Cowboy loves to fight. This week he was smiling at all of his media obligations because this is truly what he loves to do. Cowboy certainly didn’t sound like someone who was thinking about hanging it up.

He shut down retirement talks saying, “I’m going to leave when I’m done.” Still the UFC losing streak cannot be ignored. Granted, the losses have all come to former champions Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, and Tony Ferguson.

This fight against Niko Price (14-4, 1 NC) is much different. It’s different because this is the first time Cowboy isn’t fighting someone truly elite. If he can’t get past Price, he can’t lean on the fact that he’s only lost to top competition.

This is a fight that Cowboy should win if he comes at his best. If he can’t win, his UFC future starts to look a little bleak. It’s hard not to root for someone as lovable as Cowboy, but his back is definitely against a wall tonight.

New York Mets’ Brodie Van Wagenen is not focused on his future role amidst ownership change

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen has an agreement in place to buy the New York Mets‘ franchise from the Wilpons. And while the deal is pending the approval of the other 29 ownership groups in MLB, there shouldn’t be too many roadblocks for Cohen to take over in the near future.

A new era is set to begin for the New York Mets, and it is unclear if general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is part of that future. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the two men have had only one “real talk” but the GM knows more will be in the horizon.

“There are still a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross before it will become official,” Van Wagenen said. “At this point my collaboration is still among the senior leaders in my department and then communication with Jeff and Fred [Wilpon], and then from there we’ll continue to go forward. But at this point, right now, our transactions are focused on today, tonight and tomorrow to try to get us through this regular season.”

Speaking of, navigating the regular season has been rough for Van Wagenen and the Mets, who currently hold a 23-28 record and will have to win most of their nine remaining games to have an outside shot at making the playoffs. From a roster standpoint, the pitching depth was mostly lost with so many injuries, opt outs and ineffectiveness, and that has really affected the club’s chances.

The Mets’ current task is winning

Those remarks represented the first time that Van Wagenen has spoken publicly since Cohen’s agreement was announced. However, he declined to make specific comments about his winter plans, even though he is under contract through the 2022 season.

“In terms of my own job security, I’ve said it many times: I don’t think about that,” Van Wagenen said. “I don’t give it any thought, because my task is to win today.”

Before thinking about the future, it is clear that the New York Mets need to focus on the present, which brings too many on-field challenges to even entertain other things or scenarios.

One factor that could be the Yankees’ downfall in the postseason

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have lit Major League Baseball ablaze after briefly touching the .500 mark in the win-loss column last week. Since then, they have won nice straight games, including a series sweep against the Toronto Blue Jays in which they tallied 46 runs over three games.

The Yankees have enjoyed this type of success in the past, but their downfall has always been pitching. With that being said, general manager Brian Cashman went out and spent $324 million to bring in Gerrit Cole, arguably the best starter in the MLB. Despite his addition, the Yankees have still struggled with their starters at times, and they will be without James Paxton for the remainder of the 2020 campaign.

When it comes to postseason performances, the Yankees have been rocky in recent years. Their offense has completely disappeared at times as well, but good pitching can oftentimes supplement a lackluster offense, to a degree. The one factor that could be the Yankees’ downfall in the playoffs is their starters in the rotation.

Current New York Yankees starting rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

2.) Masahiro Tanaka

3.) JA Happ

4.) Deivi Garcia

5.) Jordan Montgomery

Projected postseason rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

2.) Masahiro Tanaka

3.) JA Happ/Deivi Garcia/Jordan Montgomery

While Cole and Tanaka represent two reliable options in exhibition games, the third spot in the rotation is tumultuous. Happ has been inconsistent the past two years, and Montgomery doesn’t have any real postseason experience. Garcia, on the other hand, just made his MLB debut this season and only has four starts under his belt. Utilizing him in the postseason would come with great caution.

With the third slot being an issue, Cole and Masa must be absolutely perfect if the Yankees wish to move through the postseason efficiently. It also heavily depends on their batting order and the health of their star players. When all cylinders are firing, we have seen the capabilities of their offense, but we have also seen the dark days were stringing together five runs over four games was a difficult task.

I am still not entirely convinced the Yankees’ starting rotation is capable of producing consistent performances during the playoffs. While Cole undoubtedly injects more quality, losing Paxton was a major blow.

New York Giants: Will Hernandez calls out team for poor week 1 performance

New York Giants, Will Hernandez

The New York Giants schedule doesn’t get any easier in week two against the Chicago Bears, as they face off against Khalil Mack on the defensive front and wide receiver Allen Robinson on offense. The Giants have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL, with elite defenses and individual players stacking up against them.

In week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Giants endured their fair share of struggles. Including a losing battle against Pittsburgh’s defensive line, the offensive line was thrashed consistently. Their run blocking was virtually nonexistent, and their pass-pro allowed 26 total pressures on Daniel Jones. Jones lead the NFL in pressures in week one, indicating an extremely poor performance from his protection. Success on offense starts up front, and while the Giants do have the talent to have a competitive unit, they didn’t show it in their first week together.

Third-year guard Will Hernandez had a tough time in the trenches against some of the best interior defenders in the NFL. He understands that their performances were unacceptable, and improvement is a necessity against Chicago.

“Anybody who put that on tape deserves to be called out,” Hernandez said, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “We definitely learned from it. We had an attitude of, we’re going to practice hard, and we’re going to show it the next opportunity we get.”

When asked about their preparation for Chicago and the challenge ahead, Hernandez stated:

“Bring it on.”

“Give us the best,” Hernandez said. “We want to be challenged. We didn’t come out here to pick and choose our teams. We want to play the best guys, go out there, match up and kill it as an offensive line all together. We’re not ducking anybody. We’re not watching who we’re playing this week and not next week.”

The New York Giants are prepared:

There’s one thing we can rule out about Hernandez and his teammates; they don’t lack confidence. New head coach Joe Judge wants to face off against the best because that is ultimately how you become the best.

Attacking their opponents head-on and “punching them in the nose for 60 minutes” is the recipe to success, but as a new unit with 13 new starters across both sides of the ball, it was always going to be a tumultuous start for Big Blue. Hopefully, they can see drastic improvements against the Bears.

New York Mets: 2020 has been a rough year for Steven Matz

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to New York Mets‘ starter Steven Matz. He was coming off a successful 2019 in which he had a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings, but this time around, he has battled injuries and ineffectiveness and has an unsightly 9.79 ERA in 26.2 frames. He has had to deal with a left shoulder ailment and his usual first-inning issues.

The left shoulder bursitis that he had in early September clearly limited, and Matz had to travel back and forth between the Mets’ alternate training site and the big league camp in search for answers.

In his first start since August 15 – he had a brief move to the bullpen – Matz was the losing starter for the New York Mets as they got thrashed 15-2 by the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. In 2.2 innings, he conceded six runs, eight hits and three walks.

With the loss, the Mets fell to 23-28, and it is now very difficult to qualify for the postseason with so many teams vying for a Wild Card spot and less than 10 games left in the calendar.

“It always comes down to executing pitches,” Matz said according to MLB.com. “The sharpness wasn’t there. Executing pitches wasn’t there. I gave those guys a chance, and they capitalized.”

“The command hasn’t been there,” manager Luis Rojas said. “The execution of the pitches, the sequencing … made it big innings against him. From the first inning basically, that was happening to him, where he was not able to execute his pitches.”

The Mets expect more from him

With a mid-90s fastball and a big curveball, it is perplexing that Matz can’t get better results. His command issues are just too much to overcome.

“His stuff is one of the things we like a lot — the fastball velo, the changeup, the contrast that he can create, the angle of his pitches,” Rojas said.

“It’s been a frustrating year for me,” Matz said. “I came into Spring Training 2.0. I was feeling great. I pitched great early on. For it to go this way is really frustrating. … I’ve just got to keep working hard. All I can do is keep putting my best foot forward.”