New York Yankees: Good news and bad news in emphatic game 1 win over Tampa

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees escaped game one of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays with a massive victory. With Gerrit Cole on the mound, the opener of the series was essential for a Yankee team that often goes on lengthy cold streaks.

Securing game one gives the Yanks a significant advantage heading into game two, with youngster Deivi García taking the mound.

The Yankees have been tortured by the Rays all season long, and they made an emphatic statement, thanks to some timely homers by their more consistent hitters.

FINAL SCORE: 9-3

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

Good news, the Yankees were clicking on all fronts, and the offense played as well as we could have hoped against fantastic pitching.

Offensively, they racked up 13 hits and struck out six times, a fantastic ratio. Lead-off hitter DJ LeMahieu had two hits and Aaron Judge launched a home run in the fifth inning to secure the lead for the Yankees.

However, to start the game, the Bombers managed to strike first, with Aaron Hicks hitting a sacrifice fly to center, driving in LeMahieu. Both Clint Frazier and Kyle Higashioka hit solo homers to help their cause and ultimately pushed the Yankees over the edge.

As for the Yankees pitching, starter Gerrit Cole lasted 6.0 innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out eight batters. His kryptonite this season has been Ji-Man Choi, who launched a two-run homer in the fourth inning to regain the lead. Cole did not back down from the challenge, though, as he consistently hit the upper 90s with his fastball, despite reaching the upper 90s in pitch count. This was about as great an outing against the Rays as you can hope for; the Yankees managed to produce just enough offense.

Thankfully, their bullpen also performed well, lasting three innings and blanking the Rays.

The 9th inning was the catalyst for the Bombers, who gave Giancarlo Stanton a bases-loaded opportunity.  He did not disappoint, launching a grand slam, his eighth career salami.

Interesting stats:

-Gerrit Cole was the first Yankee with eight strikeouts in back-to-back postseason games since Roger Clemens in 2001.

-Cole’s strikeout of Manual Margot in the fifth inning came at 100.1 mph, the fastest pitch he’s thrown this season.

-The Yankees are the first team in MLB history to hit 3+ home runs in each of the first three games of a postseason.

BAD NEWS:

There wasn’t much bad news from the victory, as baseball is a game of inches and a win was all you could’ve hoped for. Considering the Yankees are 11-18 playing away this year, securing game one was essential. They posted four earned runs on Blake Snell, who is one of the more dominant arms is in the league.

New York Giants: Rookie OT Andrew Thomas suffering from growing pains

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants made it a point of emphasis this offseason to rebuild their offensive line. The Giants drafted three offensive linemen, signed a new offensive tackle in free agency, and gave Nick Gates a contract extension. The biggest investment of all of these being the Giants’ first-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

With the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected left tackle Andrew Thomas. Andrew Thomas was an excellent offensive tackle prospect out of Georgia. He was the top offensive tackle on Pro Football Focus’s draft board, but most draft boards had varying rankings on the draft’s top four offensive tackles.

Four games into the fourth pick’s career, and Giants fans are beginning to feel underwhelmed. For the other teams that selected an offensive tackle in the first round (the Jets, Browns, Dolphins, and Buccaneers), their rookie tackles have all met or exceeded expectations. Andrew Thomas has been struggling with growing pains and failing to meet expectations through the first quarter of the 2020 NFL season.

Andrew Thomas Growing Pains

According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Thomas has allowed 3 sacks this season, tied for the most in the NFL amongst offensive tackles. His overall grade is also a 53.7, which is the worst of the top-four tackles from his draft class.

In yesterday’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Thomas allowed four total pressures from 32 pass-blocking snaps, with one of them resulting in a sack (PFF). Head coach Joe Judge also recognized Andrew Thomas’s struggles:

“He’s been baptized by fire. … We’re not going to write him a pass for being a young guy or for being a rookie.” – Joe Judge on Andrew Thomas via Art Stapleton

Andrew Thomas truly has been baptized by fire, as Judge said. He has faced some serious competition to begin his career. Judge continued on, saying he has seen a lot of positives from Andrew Thomas as well.

All in all, it has been a somewhat disappointing start to Andrew Thomas’s career. But, this is a long season, and Thomas has another twelve weeks to turn it around. Additionally, a draft pick is not made to serve a one-year purpose. Andrew Thomas is destined to be the Giants’ left tackle for the next decade- he was a long-term investment. He has time to turn things around and prove he has the makings of a franchise left tackle.

New York Islanders: Mat Barzal contract negotiations update

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

New York Islanders‘ franchise center, Mat Barzal is due for a new contract this year. NHL free agency is about to start, so time is ticking to get a deal done. Should Islanders fans worry about Barzal leaving?

My answer: nope, shouldn’t even think about it. Mat Barzal isn’t leaving no matter what; he physically can’t leave. Barzal won’t even make it to a point where he would receive an offer sheet. Lou Lamoriello has got this in the bag, but what does the deal look like? Everything in this article is based on NRD’s most recent report.

Salary

The two sides haven’t reached a number that works for everyone. It’s similar to the Andrei Svechnikov situation. Lou Lamoriello is looking to reach a deal worth $7.5 million a year. But, Barzal’s camp has decided that that number is not large enough for their liking. Do not fear Islanders fans, both sides are very optimistic about getting a deal done soon. The threat of an offer sheet is reportedly very low. My guess is that the camp is looking for a contract around $8-$9 million range. Lou Lamoriello will figure something out, he always does.

Length

The length is not what everyone wants it to be. I can guarantee this won’t be a 7-year deal. NRD has stated that they believe it will turn into a bridge deal. A bridge deal would help both sides.

Barzal’s side gets a good deal and the chance to earn even more money in around 3-4 years. The Islanders get their franchise player for cheaper than expected and can use the extra money to resign Pulock and Toews. The flat cap also makes this contract length more likely. The Isles need to penny-pinch if they want to keep this same team together. And now that the cap won’t increase for the next two years, a bridge deal is their best bet to do just that.

New York Yankees make massive game 2 pitching decision ahead of ALDS opener

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

The New York Yankees are gearing up to face off against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, but the starting pitching rotation took a strange turn ahead of the opener on Monday evening.

Most expected the Yankees to utilize Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and JA Happ as a three-man rotation against Tampa, but they made an interesting change that could prove to be a boom or bust decision.

Manager Aaron Boone waited until about two hours before the opening pitch of the ALDS to determine the future of his rotation going into the series. Cole will obviously start game one, but young pitcher Deivi García will actually step on the mound in game two as the starter.

This is a massive surprise, considering his lack of experience in the postseason and MLB as a whole. Over six games this year, Garcia has a 4.98 ERA over 34.1 innings. He has racked up 33 strikeouts and allowed 19 runs during that span, but he has had several solid performances that have brewed optimism within the Yankees’ base.

The New York Yankees are taking a huge risk:

Starting García against a fantastic Rays team is a risky move, but he has had success on several occasions. Notably on September 9 against the Toronto Blue Jays, he lasted seven innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out six batters. He has been shaky at times, though, with his ERA gradually improving since that fantastic outing against Toronto. He concluded his 2020 regular season allowing four runs over 6.2 innings against the Miami Marlins.

Alternatively, the New York Yankees could’ve utilized Masahiro Tanaka in the number two role. He will start game three.

It almost seems similar to how soccer players approach penalty shootouts. Sometimes, you have to save your best players for the most critical moments, and Tanaka starting in game three could be the turning point in the series. However, they must win game one with Cole on the mound.

Over one game this postseason, Tanaka has a 13.50 ERA, allowing six earned runs over 4.0 innings. He was problematic at best during the contest against Cleveland, which might have played into their decision to start García in game two against Tampa.

BREAKING: Kamaru Usman – Gilbert Burns at UFC 256 is off (Reports)

Per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, one of the more anticipated matchups of the winter is off. According to Helwani, the UFC 256 headliner between Kamaru Usman (17-1) and Gilbert Burns (19-3) is off. The word from Helwani is that the UFC champion needs a little more time.

Usman did get injured in his last fight against Jorge Masvidal that came at UFC 251. Usman was thought to be all cleared for this fight, but upon returning to training, it appears that the champion is going to need additional time to prepare for the event.

As of now, the UFC is still planning on this being the title fight. However, the fight is going to be pushed back to either the January or February card. This would line up even better with the proposed title eliminator between Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington.

Perhaps, the UFC could pivot to having Covington and Masvidal fight on the December card. Masvidal has come out and said in the past that he wanted to fight again before the year is over. Covington has also expressed interest in getting back in there.

UFC 256 without Usman – Burns

As things currently stand, UFC 256 still has a title fight. The GOAT, Amanda Nunes, is scheduled to defend her featherweight title against Megan Anderson. For now, that title fight will slot into the main event spot. However, that’s not guaranteed to stay there.

The UFC could look at potentially having the matchup between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier headline that card. McGregor initially asked Poirier to fight for charity on December 12th which is the same night as 256.

Dana White came out last week and said that the promotion was waiting to hear back from McGregor on the potential fight inside the UFC. It wouldn’t be a bad idea in my opinion for the promotion to do everything they can to either make Masvidal – Covington or McGregor – Poirier the UFC 256 headliner.

New York Jets promote a QB with Sam Darnold’s status in question

New York Jets

The New York Jets added quarterback Mike White from their practice squad and released running back Kalen Ballage.

With Sam Darnold’s situation in question, the New York Jets added quarterback Mike White to their active roster. In a corresponding move, the team released rusher Kalen Ballage.

White, 25, was the Jets’ backup quarterback for the first three games this season but returned to the practice squad when Joe Flacco was cleared for action prior to last Thursday’s game against Denver. The former Dallas Cowboys draft pick (fifth round, 2018) was first signed to the New York practice squad last September and signed a reserve/future contract in January. He has yet to appear in an NFL game.

White’s return may be a negative omen towards the status of starter Sam Darnold for Sunday’s visit from the Arizona Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Fox). Darnold sustained a shoulder injury while taking a sack in Thursday’s 37-28 loss to the Broncos and was removed from the game. Flacco took his spot on the next New York series, but Darnold returned before the drive ended and was not taken out from that point forward. If Darnold is out, the former Super Bowl MVP Flacco will likely get the start with White once against serving as the understudy.

While Darnold claims his shoulder “feels good” and the team is taking his status on a day-to-day basis, according to team reporter Ethan Greenberg, Thursday’s aftermath has many speculating about Darnold’s status for Week 5. Darnold has missed six games due to injury or illness over his first two NFL seasons and the Jets are 0-6 in such contests.

The rearrival of White led to an early end for Ballage’s Jets career. A former pupil of head coach Adam Gase with the Miami Dolphins, Ballage failed a physical that voided an August trade to the Jets. He was signed just over two weeks later by the Jets after the Dolphins waived him. Ballege failed to find a lasting role in the Jets’ offense, even with starting running back Le’Veon Bell out due to an injury. He earned 67 yards on nine receptions over three games in New York, as well as 13 yards on a trio of rushing attempts.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets: The emergence of Luis Guillorme

The New York Mets‘ season didn’t quite go as planned, but at least there were some positive developments. In the starting rotation, David Peterson emerged from the alternate training site, skipped Triple-A altogether and posted a 3.44 in ten games (nine starts) and 49.2 frames.

Rookie shortstop Andres Gimenez also made his debut and added a speed/defense element to the Mets that they didn’t have before. Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo performed at their expected levels (well, Conforto was even better) and Edwin Diaz returned to his dominant ways.

However, in one of the most surprising developments of the 2020 shortened season, at least for the New York Mets, was the emergence of Luis Guillorme as a good offensive player.

For years, even coming from the Mets’ system, Guillorme was viewed as a glove-first, no-bat infielder with a utilityman ceiling. However, look at the numbers he put this year: .333/.426/.439 with a .381 wOBA and a 144 wRC+ in 30 games and 68 plate appearances.

Is the Mets’ infielder for real?

You should note, before we dig deeper into his future role, that he isn’t that good. Luck had something to do with that line, as he posted an unsustainable .463 BABIP. But he did increase his average exit velocity (from 87.0 mph last year to 89.8 this season) and hard-hit rate (from 26.5 to 31.7.) He improved as a hitter, maybe not the point to be an above-average regular down the road, but he is nevertheless a very useful piece.

Due to his offensive and defensive contributions, Guillorme can be an excellent piece for the Mets in the future. As of now, there are several infielders blocking his path towards regular playing time, such as Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Gimenez and Robinson Cano. But there are plenty of teams out there who would take a slick-fielding shortstop capable of taking a base (14.0 BB%) and hitting for average.

But let’s admire the fact that, in half of the games of the regular season than other stars, he accumulated more fWAR (0.7) than JD Davis, Pete Alonso, Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramos, just to name a few.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Gerrit Cole the Yankee’s hope for a 28th World Championship

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

New York Yankees general partner and owner Hal Steinbrenner spent $324 million on to see Gerrit Cole in a Yankee uniform and pitching for the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium. Cole, 30, was born on September 8, 1990, in Newport Beach, California, to Mark and Karen Cole. Cole’s father was from New York and a Yankee fan. His father would tell him stories of Lou Gehrig and other famous Yankees, and the young boy would quickly become a baseball fan and Yankee fanatic.

On weekends one could see the young boy playing baseball at local ball fields, playing any position so that he could play. His father certainly nurtured Cole’s interest in the Yankees by flying him across the country seven times to Yankee Stadium to see his idols, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Andy Pettitte. Cole was a member of the Tustin Western Little League team of Newport Beach.

In 2001 hiS Dad would take the young Cole to the World Series in Arizona to see his favorite Yankees play. The eleven-year-old could be seen in the stands with a Yankee uniform and cap on, while holding a sign saying “Yankee Fan Today, Tomorrow, Forever.” Being a lifelong Yankee fan had to, in some way sway him to being the pitching Ace for a club he loved all his life? The signing of Cole is not the first time Cole and the Yankees have interacted. The Yankees drafted Cole in 2008, but Cole decided to attend college at UCLA. They were also outbid by the Pirates for Cole when he got out of college.

Cole attended Orange Lutheran High School and played on the team as a pitcher. In this sophomore year, he once pitched 45 innings without allowing a run. In his junior year, his fastball reached 94mph. At the start of his senior season, fifty baseball scouts would attend his opening start. He would go 8-2 that season with a .047 ERA while striking out 121. The Yankees would select Cole in the first-round draft in 2008, but Cole would attend college instead.

At UCLA, Cole’s introduction to college pitching would be a bit rude, as he faced more talented players. He would go 4-8 with an ERA of 3.49. His next year would be more successful as he went 11-4, with an ERA of 3.37 with 153 strikeouts. In 2011 Cole would sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole attended spring training in 2012 but was optioned to the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League. Cole pitched to a 2.90 ERA before being promoted to the Indianapolis Indians, a triple-A Pirates minor league team. There he would go 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in twelve starts.

Injuries on the Pirates would cause Cole to be brought up to the majors; he made his MLB debut on June 11, 2013. In his first appearance, he struck out his first batter in just three pitches. In the game, he would also get his first hit. He gave up two earned runs in the game but got his first win as a major league pitcher. He would hit his first home run on Sept. 7, 2014, his second on August 26th and his third for the Pirates, on May 26, 2016, a three-run blast into the visitor’s bullpen.

For the Pirates, he would go 10-7 in his first year, 11-5 in his second, and an amazing 19-8 in his third year while being an All-Star, MVP nominee, and coming in fourth in the Cy Young voting. He would have an offseason in 2016 going only 7-10. 2017 would be only slightly better when he went 12-12. At the end of the season, he would be traded to the Houston Astros. With a new pitching coach and new technologies, Cole would again find his form. He would go 15-5 in 2018 while posting a 2.88 ERA. Cole’s 2019 was even better, going 20-5 with an ERA of 2.50.

During the 2019 postseason, Cole would get his second taste of postseason play, and he would dominate. In 2018 he would go 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA. He would go seven or more innings in all five of his 2019 starts, sometimes going over 100 pitches. On October 5, against the Rays in the ALDS, he would not allow a run in the 3-1 win. On 10/10, he would again face the Rays and pitch to a .057 ERA in the win. On 10/15, he would lose to the Yankees but post an ERA of just .040. In the ALCS against the Nationals on 10/22, he would get a 5-4 win. To finish off his postseason, he would get another win against the Nationals on 10/27 while allowing only one run in the 7-1 Houston win. He would end the postseason 4-1 with an ERA of 1.72.

Once interviewed by David Laurila, he would ask Cole what his hitting approach is, Cole would answer, “I try to get early contact and keep it on the ground. I like to keep the ball down as much as I can. Strikeouts are something that just happens. You don’t go for strikeouts, because your pitch count gets too high. When you get that opportunity, you have to put them away with whatever is working that day. That’s the approach I’ve always had to have. I’ve got to keep my pitch count down. If you want to go deep into ballgames, you have to stay under that 100 mark.”

Cole is a fearless monster on the mound and attacks hitters. He is durable and goes deep into games, something that will rest the Yankee bullpen. In his short career, he has been an All-Star three times, been an MVP nominee twice, and has been voted for the Cy Young Award three times, coming in second in the voting this past year.

Although he has turned out to be the New York Yankees winningest pitcher, he doesn’t seem to be the dominant pitcher he was for the Houston Astros last year. He appears to have struggled at times, even in the games that he has won. Also, Cole has given up home runs, lot’s of them. He has given up a home run in every one of his starts. The Yankees have lost the last four games that Cole started. In those games, Cole gave up eight home runs while walking nine hitters. Last season he was 21-5 with an ERA of 2.51, this year, his earned run average is considerably higher at 3.64.

One would have to assume, that this crazy baseball season, and it’s broken up spring training may have something to due with Cole’s performance. There is another possibility, could he be another great pitcher to come to the Yankees and flop? A.J. Burnett is the most recent overpaid pitching bust for the New York Yankees. He was not the first, the Yankees have had over a dozen premier pitchers to come to them in the last 30 years that couldn’t cut it in New York.

Since manager Aaron Boone has matched him up with his battery mate, catcher Kyle Higashioka, the Yankees have won five in a row. He has pitched to an ERA of just 1.32. If the New York Yankees get all the way to the World Series, Cole could start six or seven games for the Yankees, although some would be on short rest.  In his one postseason start so far this year, he was totally dominating, beating the Cleveland Indians, pitching seven strong innings with 105 pitches, allowing just two runs while walking no one and racking up 13 strikeouts.  Striking out 13 hitters while issuing no walks has only been done by one other baseball player, and he was Tom Seaver in 1973.

Tonight, in San Diego. Cole will take the mound against the Tampa Bay Ray’s ace Blake Snell. If Cole pitches as he did in the Wild Card round, the Rays won’t’ have a chance. The only snafu that could affect the outcome is if the Yankee hitters stay silent and don’t support him.

Cole and his family moved to Greenwich, CT a suburb of New York. The 6’4″ Cole is married to his wife Amy, who he met as a softball player at UCLA. His brother-in-law is Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants. He and his wife love to cook and entertain family and friends. Cole is a healthy cook and a nutritional nut. Amy has a blog called “the Culinary Experience”. The two gave birth to a son earlier this summer. Cole has a younger sister Erin.

 

New York Giants: Joe Judge confirms ‘Daniel is our quarterback’

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

There is an awful narrative brewing for the New York Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones. Through four games in the season, Jones has thrown five interceptions and fumbled three times, indicating a step backward in his professional development.

While he has cut down on the fumbles significantly, his interception totals are increasing, but the wide receivers can shoulder some of that blame for a lack of separation.

Jones has totaled 889 yards to the air but has earned just a 68.3 QB rating and 42.9 QBR. Comparably to last season, Jones finished the 2019 campaign with an 87.7 rating and 57 QBR. He was sacked 38 times last year and has already gone down 14 times, which puts him on track to go down 56 times this season.

The New York Giants need to stick with Jones and give him more talent to work with:

There’s a lot of blame to go around for why Jones has struggled this season, and a lack of offensive snaps is undoubtedly a part of it. Let’s compare his snap count to Nick Mullens in week three when the Giants faced off against the San Francisco 49ers.

Jones took just 52 snaps on offense while Mullens enjoyed 77, a significant difference. Thanks to a lackluster offensive line and poor performances from his playmakers, Jones has had to shoulder most of the load himself.

That attests to his excessive rushing yards through four weeks. He has already picked up 137 yards on the ground, putting him on pace for 548 yards.

On Monday, following the loss to Los Angeles, head coach Joe judge was asked about Daniel Jones and if he is the quarterback for the future.

Judge confidently said, “Daniel is our quarterback.”

The narrative that the Giants should tank for Trevor Lawrence is already getting tired, and while Lawrence represents a potential generational talent, spending another top 10 pick on a passer is not the ideal way to build a successful team.

Jones completed his 16th game as an NFL player against the Rams, which theoretically still makes him a rookie. He will finally make the transition to sophomore against the Dallas Cowboys in week five, and he will need to bring everything he’s got if the Giants wish to walk away with a victory.

New York Yankees announce 2020 ALDS roster

New York Yankees, Michael King

The New York Yankees have announced their 28-man roster for the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. With the exception of just one switch, the roster will remain the same as the Wild Card Series.

The team added Michael King in exchange for Erik Kratz. For the Wild Card Series, the Yankees carried three catchers and one less pitcher since the series would only go two or three games. Now that it’s the divisional series, the series is five games long, and all in consecutive days.

Unlike other years, there will be no breaks between games two and three, and between games four and five. Those off-days would be used for travel, but since the series is in San Diego in a bubble, there’s no travel and need for those days. Game five if needed will be played on Friday.

Because of all the games being played in a row, there’s even more of a need for pitchers. Traditionally, teams can get away with throwing just their high-leverage pitchers. But this year, the depth of teams’ pitching will be tested to the max. Come the ALCS, all seven games of that series will be played in a row. We won’t see any off-days in a series until the World Series with the traditional format for off-days.

By adding King, it gives the Yankees long-relief depth. It’s also not impossible that he starts a game, as we only know of Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka starting games.

The 2020 postseason is certainly an interesting one, but it’s as exciting as ever. Game one between the Yankees and Rays starts at 8pm ET on TBS.