Katlyn Chookagian outpoints Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 255

The second fight on the UFC 255 main card was a showdown between two top five flyweights. Former title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian (14-4), was looking to bounce back against rising contender, Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1).

Calvillo was making her second appearance in the UFC‘s flyweight division. After struggling with weight cuts in her strawweight days, Calvillo was forced to move up to flyweight. She defeated the previously top ranked Jessica Eye in her flyweight debut.

Chookagian was looking to bounce back after getting stopped in the first round in her last fight. Katlyn Chookagian lost to former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade in her last outing. She was looking to get right back into the title picture with a win tonight.

UFC 255: Chookagian – Calvillo Recap

Round 1

As the first round got underway in this UFC flyweight contest, Calvillo opened with a low kick. Chookagian tried to land some shots from range, but Calvillo landed a couple of good counter shots. Calvillo landed a nice left hook and transitioned to a takedown.

However, Chookagian was able to get right back up. Chookagian was stalking Calvillo and throwing some nice crisp jabs. Calvillo started to get tagged with a couple of crisp jabs which forced a shot out of Calvillo. However, Chookagian used a beautiful sprawl to keep the fight standing.

Chookagian was throwing with a force in the first round. Calvillo pushed forward with a minute left and landed a very solid left hook. However, Chookagian countered with a nice left of her own. The UFC‘s second ranked flyweight, Chookagian, looked great in the first round.

Round 2

As the second round opened up, Chookagian continued to stalk Calvillo. Calvillo landed two really good side kicks to the body in the opening minute of the round. However, she was really struggling to get inside on Katlyn Chookagian.

The former UFC title challenger was enjoying a lot of success from the outside. Every time Calvillo started to press forward, Chookagian would pop her with a couple of shots. Calvillo appeared to look incredibly frustrated in the second round.

However, Calvillo landed two massive left hooks with about two minutes left in the round. But neither shot seemed to do a ton of damage to Chookagian. After those two shots, Chookagian went right back to popping Calvillo. Good moments for Calvillo but another round for Chookagian.

Round 3

As the final round of this UFC 255 flyweight contest got underway, Calvillo tried to push forward. However, Chookagian continued to tag her from the outside. Calvillo started to throw more kicks since she couldn’t get on the inside.

Chookagian just looked a step ahead of Cynthia Calvillo. Calvillo tried a couple of blitzes in the first couple of minutes, but nothing landed. Instead, Chookagian continued to pop her with straight shots. Chookagian landed a crisp counter left hook halfway through the round.

I will say that this was the best round striking for Calvillo. She was being much more active with her kicks, but she was still getting outstruck overall. As the fight entered the final minute, Chookagian continued to land from the outside.

Calvillo tried for a takedown late, but she wasn’t able to get it. She landed a really good 1-2, but Chookagian was able to counter her with a few nice shots. Great performance at UFC 255 for Katlyn Chookagian.

Katlyn Chookagian defeats Cynthia Calvillo by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

New York Giants: Root AFC North in Week 11, beat AFC North in Week 12

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have fought hard and entered their name bac in the playoff race. With a statement victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10, the Giants are just inches behind their rivals for the top spot in the NFC East. The Giants sit at 3-7, having beaten the Washington Football Team twice and the Philadelphia Eagles once. The Eagles are 3-5-1, playing one less game than the Giants and obtaining one win outside of the NFC East.

New York is trending upward; the Giants are 3-2 in their last five games. Philadelphia is trending downward; the Eagles are 2-3 in their last five games. This is setting up to be a close race to the finish line as both teams fight to win their lowly division.

Go Browns!

The New York Giants are on a bye this week. Philadelphia, however, has already had their bye week, and is stepping into a tough Week 11 contest on Sunday afternoon. Speaking of hot and cold teams, Philadelphia is travelling to Cleveland, Ohio to take on the Browns. The Browns have been surprising this year, improving to a 6-3 record (winning 3 of their last 5) after a shaky start to the season. Cleveland is hot, fortunately for the Giants, and unfortunately for the Eagles.

Boo Bengals(?)!

The Giants will rest up this week and prepare to take on their own AFC North opponent in Week 12. Giants fans will be rooting for Cleveland to whoop up on Philadelphia this week, cheering for an AFC North team that they will face later on this season. But, at the same time, the Giants will be preparing to take on an AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals, next week.

This week, though, Giants fans have reason to root for Cincinnati. The Bengals are playing the Washington Football Team who sit at 2-7. With a win over the Bengals, Washington would improve their record to tie the Giants at 3-7. So fans might want to root for the Bengals this week. But their love and admiration for Cincinnnati is sure to run out quickly as the Giants will face the same team next week that they are rooting for this week.

In Week 12, the Giants will have a big opportunity ahead of themselves. From here on out, New York needs to win their winnable games and also needs to pull out an upset against in one of their games that is not considered as winnable. The Giants have a tough schedule ahead of them. The two weakest teams they will face are the Bengals (2-6-1, currently) next week and the Cowboys to close out the season. Both of those are must-win games as the Giants race the Eagles (and potentially the Washington Football Team) for first place in their division. The AFC North could actually decide the fate of the NFC East in 2020.

New York Knicks solve their point guard problems, re-sign Elfrid Payton

New York Knicks, Elfrid Payton

The New York Knicks waived point guard Elfrid Payton this past Thursday, paying him $1 million of his previous contract instead of $8 million on a one-year deal for 2021. They executed this move to reduce his salary implications for the next season, signing him to a new $5 million deal. By doing this, the Knicks actually saved $2 million, money they can allocate elsewhere to bolster the squad.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Payton will return to the Knicks on one year deal and act as their primary point guard once again. After losing out on several big-name options, including Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, the Knicks found it more appropriate to stick with a familiar face and continue building through their youth. It seems as if they are setting themselves up for a big off-season next year and for the future. Failing to invest measure money into a max contract now is a purposeful decision by new general manager Leon Rose.

Payton finished the 2019–20 season with 10 points, 7.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game. He hit on .439% of field goals from the floor and .203 from beyond the arch. He is a solid point guard who offers decent play on both ends but is nowhere near superstar status. He’s essentially a supplement until the Knicks feel they can invest in a bigger name down the road.

New York Islanders: Addressing the Josh Bailey trade rumors

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

There recently has been rumors over long time New York Islanders forward, Josh Bailey. Jimmy Murphy, from Florida Hockey Now, has stated that the Islanders might trade Bailey due to limited cap space left to resign Mat Barzal.

I’m here to put all these rumors to bed once and for all. Josh Bailey has played 865 NHL games in his career, and all 865 games are with the Islanders. That might not mean something in other sports, but it does in Hockey. Bailey could’ve left for any other team, but he continually chooses the Island over all others. Also, Josh Bailey continues to improve his play each year. Don’t look at the stats, look at how he plays and how it affects his linemates. The Islanders won’t trade Josh Bailey.

The reasoning behind this rumor is questionable in the first place. Jimmy Murphy decided to write an opinion piece which is normal. And his piece was that the Islanders might trade away Bailey so that they can resign Mat Barzal. It’s just an idea, just a hypothetical situation. But, somehow this piece gets blown out of proportion and now it’s a full-blown rumor.

Josh Bailey will not be traded and that surprises no Islanders’ fans. The Islanders will get rid of one of their other big money guys like Johnny Boychuk to compensate for Barzal’s return. I’d assume Boychuk and both second-round picks to somewhere.  Islanders’ fans shouldn’t worry as number 12 won’t be heading anywhere other than the rafters.

New York Giants: One pair of defenders is excelling in PFF statistics

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

While the season has been a mixed bag so far for the New York Giants, some players on defense have definitely flourished under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. Some of these players were on the roster last season but have stepped their game up with a different system and better coaching. Others are new arrivals who have made an instant impact and helped the Giants turn it around over the past couple of weeks.

Two players in specific are worth praising as they’ve made themselves stand out on the field and in the statistics columns.

Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence came into the league at the same time as Daniel Jones and is already on his second defensive coordinator in the second year of his career. But it looks like Graham is bringing out better things in him than James Bettcher. He’s already set to surpass his statistics from his rookie season. He had 38 combined tackles after playing in every game last year. This year, after only playing in 10 games so far, he already has 33.

Lawrence already has more tackles for a loss than he had last year, and only three less quarterback hits. And when it comes to PFF grade, which accounts for a number of factors, Lawrence is currently one of the highest rated sophomore defenders.

The Giants picked up Lawrence in the draft not long after moving on from Damon Harrison and it looks like they made the right choice. Harrison had the worst statistical season of his career after leaving the Giants, and has already changed teams to the Seahawks. Lawrence, on the other hand, still looks like he has room to move up.

James Bradberry

The signing of James Bradberry was met with varying reactions from interest to skepticism, after the Giants brought in the former Carolina corner to replace Janoris Jenkins. The Giants have missed at evaluating cornerbacks a number of times in recent memory. If you want proof of that, just look at their results after drafting Eli Apple and DeAndre Baker in the first round. Even when they brought in Janoris Jenkins, the Giants found a corner that was effective but would ultimately talk himself off the team with his attitude.

But those situations haven’t repeated themselves with James Bradberry. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Bradberry looks like the most likely player on the Giants defense to make the Pro Bowl or All-Pro team and has been worth the money so far. He has 3 interceptions so far, tying his career record, and also has 14 passes defended.

According to PFF, he leads the league this season when it comes to forced incompletions.

With six games left in the season still, there’s room for both Bradberry and Lawrence to further improve in their statistics. And it looks like both players are on pace for career highs in some of the most important areas. The Giants haven’t hit every time they’ve taken a swing at acquiring players. But this season, it does seem they have more hits than usual. Especially on defense, where the rebuilding process is finally showing some result.

NASCAR Cup Series: Your guide and tracker to new rides in 2021

Jimmie Johnson, Williams Byron

When it comes to Silly Season, ESM has you covered with this updating list of offseason ride exchanges at the Cup Series level.

(This list will be updated)

No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (formerly No. 88)

IN: Kyle Larson
OUT: Alex Bowman

Larson returns to NASCAR after his ousting from Chip Ganassi Racing over his use of a racist slur earlier this spring during an event on the iRacing platform. His efforts to rehabilitate since the incident were enough to satisfy both NASCAR (who will lift his indefinite suspension on January 1) and team owner Rick Hendrick, who has resurrected the No. 5 branding last used by Kasey Kahne in 2017. Previous occupants of the HMS No. 5 include Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, and Terry Labonte, who won the 1996 Cup Series championship in the car. The No. 88 identity will be retired after 13 seasons, it’s tenure represented by Bowman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Larson won six races over six full seasons at Ganassi, the most recent coming in 2019’s fall event at Dover.

No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet

IN: Team folding
OUT: Ty Dillon

The midbudget team from Bob Germain had been racing at the Cup Series level since 2008. Success in the Cup Series proved elusive, but the team earned a pair of Truck Series titles with Todd Bodine behind the wheel (2006, 2010). The team was forced to shut down when longtime sponsorship partner GEICO opted not to renew their deal (though they will remain a NASCAR partner), shutting down the No. 13 machine. Dillon’s future remains uncertain, as he hopes to continue racing at the Cup level but would be open to a return to the Xfinity Series.

No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

IN: Chase Briscoe
OUT: Clint Bowyer

Bowyer’s retirement and subsequent transfer to the Fox Sports booth opened the door for Briscoe, who won 11 races at the Xfinity Series level (including a series-best nine this past season). It’s a dream come true for a Tony Stewart fan like Briscoe as he will occupy the car in which team owner Stewart won his third and final Cup title in 2011. Bowyer had operated the No. 14 car for four seasons, reaching the playoffs in each of the final three.

No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

IN: Christopher Bell
OUT: Erik Jones

After starring for Gibbs at the Xfinity level (15 wins over two full seasons), it seemed inevitable that Bell would be racing for the Super Bowl-winning coach at the Cup level sooner or later. He got his feet wet in the premier series with his rookie campaign at the smaller, Gibbs-affiliated Leavine Family Racing, posting respectable results (16 finishes in the top 20, first top 20 standings finish for LFR). Jones failed to live up to the reputation pushed ahead by No. 20 predecessors Stewart and Joey Logano, missing out on the playoffs entirely this season.

No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota

IN: Bubba Wallace
OUT: New Team

All eyes will be on this new endeavor from Wallace, Michael Jordan, and Denny Hamlin. The debut vehicle will bear the famous numerals that Jordan wore during a majority of his NBA days. Championship figures from other sports have entered into NASCAR endeavors before and there have been more misses than hits. For every Joe Gibbs Racing, there are multiple Hall of Fame Racings (headed by former Dallas Cowboys champions Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach). But Jordan’s acumen and resources…not to mention Wallace’s skills that were quite respectable for his equipment over at Richard Petty Motorsports…should certainly set this team apart from other start-ups. The team has secured a charter from the aforementioned Germain.

No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

IN: Ross Chastain
OUT: Matt Kenseth

Kenseth was never meant to be a permanent solution in the No. 42 after Larson’s firing, and that was confirmed with Kenseth more or less announcing a third retirement, calling his full-time racing days “over” earlier this week. Chastain was a strong, veteran solution with strong postings with equipment that wasn’t always the best at both the Xfinity and Truck levels. He made a three-race cameo in Ganassi’s Xfinity program (ironically also driving a car number 42) back in 2018, winning a visit to Las Vegas.

No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet

IN: Erik Jones
OUT: Bubba Wallace

Jones will take over the seat that Wallace left behind at RPM. Despite being dealt his walking papers from Gibbs, Jones, the 2015 Truck Series champion, managing to score four finishes in the top five over the ten playoff races. He has two wins at the Cup level, the last being the 2019 Darlington race. RPM is seeking their first win since 2014, when Aric Almirola drove the iconic No. 43 to victory lane.

No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

IN: Alex Bowman
OUT: Jimmie Johnson

For months, the 2021 status of the iconic No. 48 was in question with the retirement of seven-time Cup champion Johnson looming large over the entire season. Hendrick went in-house for the succession, calling up Bowman, the former bearer of the No. 88. Bowman made a strong case to take over Johnson’s seat with his strongest season to date. He finished a career-best sixth in the final standings and finished no worse than 16th over the final dozen races of the year, a stretch that included nine postings in the top ten.

No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford

IN: BJ McLeod
OUT: New Team

McLeod will serve as the has entered into a new team endeavor with Matt Tifft, who returns to NASCAR after a seizure indefinitely ended his racing career in 2018. The team has obtained its charger from Go Fas Racing, whose No. 32 will be reduced to a part-time schedule next year. McLeod has run his vehicles at several NASCAR levels since 2016.

No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota

IN: Team folding
OUT: Christopher Bell

A technical alliance with Joe Gibbs and a strong performance from Bell (his 20th-place in the standings being the best in team history) wasn’t enough to save LFR. Previous drivers of the No. 95 include Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto. LFR’s assets have since been sold to Spire Motorsports, which is seeing an expanded role in the Cup for 2021 (their full plans have yet to be announced).

No. 99 Trackhouse Chevrolet

IN: Daniel Suarez
OUT: New Team

Suarez, the 2016 Xfinity Series champion and formerly of both Gibbs and Stewart-Haas, joins with this new team after a year with the No. 96 of Gaunt Brothers Racing (whose 2021 plans have yet to be revealed). The endeavor is headed by former road course ringer and current racing businessman Josh Wise and former Dale Earnhardt Inc. executive Ty Norris.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: I batted .400 on my 2020 season projections, a look back

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton

About a week before the New York Yankees 2020 shortened season started, I made my annual top 10 predictions for the upcoming season. Writers seldom look back at those mostly failed predictions not to embarrass themselves because making predictions is a risky business, kind of like guessing what the weather will be a month from today. Well, as it turned out, I batted .400, which isn’t very good unless you’re a baseball player. Anyway, today I have my big boy pants on and will discuss where I went wrong.

10.  Gary Sanchez will be second in home runs!

Gary Sanchez with fight Giancarlo Stanton for the second-most home runs in the season.  His defense behind the plate will again improve, showing the results of his work with new pitching coach Tanner Swanson.  Sanchez may have his first injury-free season, mostly due to the shortened season. He will catch in just 40 games with Kyle Higashioka will be catching in the remaining games.  With Stanton and Sanchez, who wins the title of 2nd most home runs, will rest on who can stay injury-free.

I eked out a win on this one. He did come in second in home runs, tied with DJ LeMahieu, with 10 apiece. Luke Voit has the most at 22 to lead baseball. Other than his home runs, he had a pretty miserable season, eventually losing out to Kyle Higashioka, who became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher. Late in the season, Sanchez was often sat, including in the postseason.

9.  DJ LeMahieu will be good, but not as good!

DJ LeMahieu, after a slow start, will have a good season, being on base frequently.  His defense will be MVP-like, but his time behind the plate will not be as effective.  His slow start may be due to not starting on time and remaining somewhat weak early on due to his coronavirus infection.  His last 30 games will be better than his first 30. Instead of his .327 leading batting average, he will end up the season in the .280’s.

Boy, was I wrong on this one? Rather than being good, he was even better in the 2020 season. His excellent defense had him playing at all three infield bases. He finished the season an MVP candidate with another Silver Slugger Award and winning the baseball batting title, the first player to do that in both leagues.

8. Clint Frazier will shine in his first full season!

A more mature Clint Frazier will finally prove to the Yankees that he is worth having on the team.  He will show his determination by fighting through a season with a foot ailment.  His improved fielding will be needed this season, and his quick bat will make him a DJ LeMahieu-like player for the Yankees in this short season.

This one I got correct. Although he didn’t play at the beginning of the season, when he did, he proved to manager Aaron Boone that he had the stuff to be an excellent player for the Yankees. He did mature and, at times, dazzled Yankee fans with his much-improved defense.

7. Does Giancarlo Stanton return to the player he was in 2017?

Giancarlo Stanton will have a relatively healthy season with the Yankees. He will show signs of the type of player that got him the MVP Award with the Marlins in 2017.  Although he will not top the team in home runs, he will have fewer strikeouts and be more productive.  If he stays healthy, he could be second in home runs.

I’m counting this one as wrong, although some of it is true. We will never know as he again had injuries keeping him out of the lineup, although he did come on strong in the waning days of the season and postseason.

6. Gerrit Cole will not lose a 2020 game!

After going 20-5 with the Houston Astros, Gerrit Cole will again shine for the New York Yankees.  Although he will not lose a game, he will have two or three no-decisions in his ten or eleven starts in the short season.  The Yankee’s excellent bullpen will keep him from losing games.  In the postseason, he will pitch to the greatness of the Yankee’s Andy Pettitte. I want to add that Justin Verlander will not replicate his 2019 and that Cole will win the Cy Young Award. He has come in 4th and 5th, last year, 2nd in the voting.  This year he will win it as New York Yankee.

I guess this one was wishful thinking. At the time, his 2019 season made my projection a possibility. Although he pitched well, he seemed to struggle at times. Proving that he is a workhorse, he pitched more innings than any other Yankee pitcher. But he was far back in the Cy Young voting.

5. Gio Urshela will show 2019 was no fluke.

2019 was a break-out season for the man at the hot corner that replaced the injured Miguel Andujar, that underwent shoulder surgery. He made Gold Glove after Gold Glove catches at 3rd.  He surprised the team with his better than expected play behind the plate. Although he may not make his 2019 batting average of .314, he will nevertheless prove his worth behind the plate and the hot corner.

I won on this one; Gio was the same Gio as in his breakout season. He cements his place at the hot corner and hit .298 on the season with 6 home runs.

4. Aaron Judge will again have an injury-shortened season.

Aaron Judge will have an average season that he will not get through without further injuries. Although he will be 4th in home runs for the team, he will lack playing time in the field, even though manager Aaron Boone will be protective of him.  His oversized body and musculature will surely hamper his season again.

This seemed like a fairly safe bet before the season started, and it came true. As it turned out, he played in fewer than half of the games. He got off to a torrid start hitting 9 home runs, but he never had another home run after rejoining the team.

3. The Yankees will win 48 games in the short-season.

After the New York Yankees won 100 and 103 games during the last two seasons, they will win 48 games this year.  The Yankees will dominate their traditional rivals in the east along with the Miami Marlins.  The few games they will lose will mostly be with the Nationals, Phillies, and the Atlanta Braves. The addition of Gerrit Cole will offset the loss of Domingo German and Luis Severino.

I was big-time wrong on this one, although some other writers were saying the Yankees would win even more games. Lengthy stretches of losses and the Tampa Bay Rays put that hope on the backburner.

2. Gleyber Torres will be the Yankees MVP.

Gleyber Torres, although taking on a new job this season as the Yankee shortstop, will shine again, topping his 2019 performance, and will lead the team again in home runs and doubles.  He will win the MVP for his performance behind the plate.  Although he will not be the best of shortstops, his efforts to be the best will turn out to be adequate.

Nope, the 2020 season will be one that Gleyber Torres will most likely want to forget. After leading the home runs in 2019, he came in 11th in a 9 man lineup. Add to that he came in second in errors at short.

1. The New York Yankees will win their 28th World Championship.

Before the coronavirus struck and the season was shut down, the New York Yankees were the odds on favorites to win the division and the World Series. The shortened season has not changed that; in fact, the shutdown allowed injured players to recover and be ready for play at the beginning of the season.  Although there will be injuries, they will not come close to eclipsing 2019.  The shortened season will cause fewer injuries.

This seemed like a reasonable projection at the time, the Yankees were favored to win it all, but they didn’t come close to that, after losing the East Division to the much better Tampa Bay Rays. They did beat the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card Series, only to lose to the Rays in the ALCS.

I will probably be bold enough to tackle projections for the 2021 season as well. At the moment, it doesn’t look good for the New York Yankees. But we will have to see what they do to improve the team in their continual quest for that 28th World Championship.  The Yankees have won 27 of those championships, but we are quickly learning that the past is not a sign of the future.

The New York Yankees should move towards platooning

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees have an archaic offense, in my opinion. The same 9 games, the same 9 spots, the same 9 positions. Look at the Dodgers, Rays, Nationals in 2019, and the Astros. All of them had platoon-based offenses. Playing to matchups, they were able to put players in their most optimal matchups in order to get the absolute best out of them. The Yankees have an opportunity with some budget buys to secure themselves a system in which they can play to matchups with their lineups. This allows the Yankees to have diverse and unpredictable lineups. If the New York Yankees want a shot to win it all, they’re going to need to look into platooning.

Introducing More Left-Handers

I don’t believe having a lefty just to have a lefty makes any sense, but when it’s so you can platoon to face righties, I’m all for it. The Yankees landing a Tommy LaStella to play the infield as a Utility guy would be splendid with his bat against right-handers. With how free agency looks, he could be landed for cheap as well. I could also see the Yankees looking at Kolten Wong, who’s another lefty, but he’s more for defense. For the outfield, I love Joc Pederson, however, he can struggle defensively. You’ll never win trying the same stuff you’ve tried before, and stagnant lineups have cost the Bombers. How many playoff losses could be chalked up to having a hole you couldn’t replace in the lineup? You can win without platooning, sure, but it’s definitely more difficult.

Mixing Up the Lineup

Explain to me why exactly the Yankees leadoff DJ against righties when Hicks has a better OBP against righties and DJ is a much worse hitter against them? Against lefties, why does DJ not bat 3rd when statistically he’s an insane power hitter against lefties? Why is it that the lineup never changes? If we face a lefty, we should have the lineup adjusted to have the best possible matchups against a lefty—same thing with righties. If the Yankees want to get the most out of their lineup, they need to start being smarter with their lineups and how they’re constructed.

The New York Yankees Can Get Star Production Through Platooning

Tommy LaStella may not be the best infielder in baseball, but his wRC+ in the last 2 years against RHP is ~140, which is elite level offensive production. DJ LeMahieu vs. Lefties, as previously mentioned, is a hitter who slugs .600 when facing them. When you play guys to their matchups, you have more runs scored and better success, and that usually leads to titles. Obviously, platooning isn’t a perfect science, but if the Yankees want a modernized lineup, they need to mix and match. The only way they’re going to do it is by trying to platoon, something that could be the future of the sport.

New York Yankees: Will Giancarlo Stanton’s switch to DH help him stay healthy?

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton had herculean 2018 season with the New York Yankees. He played in 158 games that year, filling the void of many injured players throughout the season.

Come 2019, he’d have trouble staying healthy, and that carried over into 2020. Stanton would play in just 41 regular season games over the two seasons, seeing three lengthy IL stints.

After the 2020 season, the Yankees announced that Stanton will become the regular DH in the 2021 season. They made the move because of the number of great hitters the team has, but more importantly to keep him healthy. When Stanton’s healthy, he’s arguably one of the best hitters in baseball. But the question is, will the switch work?

The injury plague

Something that Yankee fans have known too well over the past few seasons is the injury plague, where seemingly every player goes on the IL. The plan is to keep Stanton at DH as much as possible, but if injuries take over the Yankee outfield, he may be forced to play defense.

And that’s what leads to a lot of his injuries. Most of his IL stints are the result of when Stanton’s playing the field a lot, wearing down his body and leading to muscle strains and sprains. The rest of the team staying healthy helps keep Stanton healthy.

A new training staff

Prior to the 2020 season, we saw the Yankees implement a new training staff. Unfortunately, the 2020 season saw a lot of injuries, but some can be attested to the short season and the new staff getting adjusted.

From what we’ve heard, the training staff has continued to work with Stanton and other power hitters to keep them both strong and healthy. They are doing all they can to keep Stanton and other Yankees off the IL.

Losing Giancarlo Stanton to the IL is always a difficult blow. But hopefully, with his switch to DH in 2021, it will help keep him healthy for a big season.

 

New York Knicks: 3 point guards Leon Rose could settle for if not Westbrook, VanVleet

New York Knicks, Jeff Teague

The New York Knicks seemingly fail to find a quality point guard every year, and while Elfrid Payton was decent in 2019, he is by no means the future at the position.

Reports have indicated that the Knicks were interested in a Chris Paul trade, but he was sent to the Phoenix Suns in a massive deal, and it seems as if they aren’t interested in Russell Westbrook. For the sake of argument, the Knicks should stay as far away as possible from Westbrook, as his contract reaches $47 million in the final year. In addition, he is a win-now move, and the Knicks are still trying to develop their youth in  RJ Barrett, a new draft picks  Obi Toppin Immanuel Quickley.

However, if they don’t max out Fred VanVleet, they will have to settle for another veteran point guard with experience but minimal playmaking ability.

Three point guards the New York Knicks could end up settling with:

1.) D.J. Augustin

One option for the Knicks is DJ Augustin, who is a savvy veteran with a solid blend of leadership, consistency, and shooting ability. He has been on nine different teams in 14 seasons, and it is possible the Knicks find him a semi-permanent home. He’s a great locker room presence for the young players on the team and offers solid play on the floor, but he is not a superstar.

Augustin is essentially a fill-in until the Knicks can find a true long-term point guard, and they could be waiting a few years until they max out a big name. Augustin mentioned that he loved playing for Tom Thibodeau, who is currently the head coach of the Knicks. This past season, Augustin averaged 10.5 points per game, 4.6 assists, and 2.2 rebounds. He shot .399 from the field and .348 from three-point land. He is a solid player but does not offer exponential value on offense.

UPDATE: Augustin has signed a three-year, $21 million deal with Milwaukee. 

2.) Jeff Teague

Another second-tier option is Jeff Teague, who played with the Atlanta Hawks during the 2019–20 season. He also played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, averaging 10.9 points per game and 5.2 assists with both teams.

Teague is a veteran in the NBA, at 32 years old, and would offer the Knicks a short term solution at point guard. He is a solid scorer with a history of performing in that right, but he’s not a defensive superstar and would again be a complimentary pickup and not the future of the position for New York.

In fact, Teague is simply interested in winning, so there is no desire for him to even make his way to the Knicks, who are currently rebuilding and focusing on their youth. I highly doubt they strike a deal with Teague in the coming days.

3.) Kris Dunn

Dunn is another interesting option, having spent last season with the Chicago Bulls. He averaged 7.3 points per game and 3.4 assists. He is a younger option at 26 and could be developed into a more refined player, but the Knicks just drafted Quickley and expect him to be their backup PG. Dunn does not seem to have starting level talent, and this would be a reach.

There are a few things that Dunn has going for him, though — he was the fifth overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016 and is a CAA connection with Leon Rose. He backed up Ricky Rubio during his rookie season, but injuries hurt his development. He’s a fantastic defender but lacks that scoring trait, similar to Frank Ntilikina. Dunn is set to make $7.1 million on a qualifying offer, but again, this is a short term solution.