New York Giants: CBS Sports mock draft predicts DeVonta Smith falling to 11

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

There’s a lot of reasons why the New York Giants would want DeVonta Smith, but they may have a hard time getting the receiver at their current spot. Smith is the current Heisman winner and one of few receivers to pull off the accomplishment, and the Giants look like one of the best fits for him in the NFL – but other teams seem likely to take the Alabama receiver first.

CBS Sports, however, has predicted a different course. Their latest mock draft has the Giants taking Smith at number 11, after LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase is the first receiver off the board.

The Giants have a lot of needs — edge rusher, cornerback, offensive lineman, tight end — but it’s hard to pass up on the best player in college football. Smith is an out-of-this-world talent whose only shortcoming is that he’s undersized. His slight frame didn’t limit his effectiveness during his Alabama career and he gives Daniel Jones an immediate downfield threat in New York.

What are the odds Smith is available?

At first it seemed like there was little chance Smith would fall to the Giants following his Heisman campaign. After the National Championship Game, there might be more of a chance than there was earlier. Smith was injured in that game with a dislocated finger, and while it doesn’t sound like the most serious injury, he did undergo surgery for it.

In the grand scheme of things, though, it’s unlikely the Giants would have a chance to acquire a better receiver. Injury or no injury. It’s doubtful it would deter the Giants from taking him if available, but may give an edge to Ja’Marr Chase in the prospect rankings and prevent Smith from being the first receiver picked.

Smith is one of the best weapons the Giants could add this offseason to help Daniel Jones and it looks like the team has good odds of selecting him if he’s available. While it’s not a sure bet that Smith will be around where the Giants are picking, it’s not entirely impossible either and some mock drafts still see things going that way.

How the New York Rangers lost to a team who has not played in two weeks

New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin

There is no other way the New York Rangers can describe their 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils except to realize that it was disappointing and somewhat embarrassing. Not only did they lose their fourth straight game, but they also lost to a team that has not played a game since January 31.

Due to multiple players being placed on the COVID-19 list, the Devils went 15 days without playing a game. Monday was the team’s only full practice since they were shut down on January 31. So how do the Rangers lose to a team in this situation?

For starters, they allowed goals by three Devils who have a combined five career NHL goals.

Some may point to the fact that the Rangers were without Filip Chytil, Artemi Panarin, and K’Andre Miller, and lost Jacob Trouba in the third period due to an upper-body injury. However, the Devils were also without Nico Hischier, Travis Zajac, Nikita Gusev, and Dmitry Kulikov.

Before we dive into some of the other details, we will start by letting the Rangers explain what they think the issues were.

The New York Rangers react to the loss

After the game, Mika Zibanejad talked in his Zoom conference call about the team’s loss, especially giving up the winning goals in the third period. “I don’t think that for the whole game, we did not get up to the level of play we needed to. We had chances but it was not good enough for over sixty minutes. We are lacking a little bit of desperation, to be honest with you.”

A very frustrated Chris Kreider talked in his post-game Zoom conference about how the Devils outworked and outhustled the Rangers, especially in the first period. “That’s a team that is coming off a two-week break. I realize that they were probably pretty excited to getting back to hockey but that is an unacceptable start. For the majority of the game, they outhit us and outskated, and scored more battles. They flat out wanted it more and it is unacceptable.”

Later on, Kreider talked about the fact that the Rangers did not get a single chance on the power-play.

“It’s something that we have talked about and have been working on for the past couple of days,” Kreider said. “Honestly, it is part of the things I said earlier. Waiting to skate and not being physical, losing battles. There were obviously some shifts where we were buzzing in the offensive zone but obviously, it is not enough to go a full 60 minutes without drawing a power-play. That to me screams that we are not doing the right things away from the puck to support each other and to draw penalties.”

The New York Rangers wasted a solid effort from Colin Blackwell

Colin Blackwell and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the Rangers and each of the goals was significant for different reasons.

For Buchnevich, he ended a somewhat long goal drought with his goal that tied the game late in the second period. After the goal, Buchnevich celebrated by “throwing the monkey off his back”, signifying the frustration that he felt by his lack of scoring after a long period of time.

Blackwell opened the scoring for the Rangers, firing in a shot past Devil’s goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, after getting a nice pass from Brett Howden.

With that goal, Blackwell has tallied a point in four of six games with the Rangers (two goals, two assists). He has also registered nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last 12 NHL games.

The Rangers are getting strong production from workhorse players like Blackwell and Phil Di Guiseppe, but seem to be lacking some of that consistent from some of the skill players.

This is something that head coach David Quinn addressed in his post-game Zoom conference by saying “We will be talking about all this before practice, during practice, and after practice tomorrow.”

With their 14th game being played, the Rangers have reached the 1/4 mark of their 56 game season. There is still time to turn things around, but it needs to happen quickly if the Rangers want to make a run at the playoffs.

The Rangers will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on the Flyers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The franchise tag might spoil the New York Giants’ free agency plans and dreams

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants are tight on cap space this offseason. However, the team is still looking to rebuild their offense and has been linked to a few expensive, big-name free agents. There are some elite impending free agents that could fill huge needs for the Giants in free agency.

However, just because these players are impending free agents, does not mean they will hit the open market. The Giants are going to be interested in upgrading their wide receiver and offensive tackle positions. Whether that be through free agency or the draft is dependent on who is actually available in free agency.

Giants fans have selected a few impending free agents that they want the Giants to sign. Players like Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson, Taylor Moton, and Shaquil Barrett are all superb free agents that Giants fans would love to see their team sign.

However, it is very likely that none of these players will actually hit the open market. Their contracts are expiring and it seems likely that they depart from their current teams. But the teams do have one move to make to prevent their stars from leaving. Giants fans should not expect to see any of those players make it to free agency as they are likely to franchise tag candidates.

The Giants might lose their top free-agent targets to the franchise tag

If Kenny Golladay were to hit free agency, he would likely be the Giants’ top target. New York had an interest in trading for Golladay near the 2020 trade deadline. He is now an impending free agent and would be the perfect addition to the Giants’ offense. However, they might never get the chance to offer him a contract. According to reports, the Lions are likely to franchise tag the star wide receiver.

Another interesting name that connects to the Giants is Taylor Moton. This stud offensive tackle was drafted by Dave Gettleman during his tenure as general manager of the Carolina Panthers. Now, serving the same role for the New York Giants, a reunion would be a dream come true for the Giants. New York would get a top-shelf bookend on their offensive line if Moton were to sign with them in free agency. But, again, Moton is likely to be franchise tagged and the Giants will not have the opportunity to offer him a contract.

This will continue to be a theme as one starts listing off the top free agents in the 2021 free agency class. Teams are not willing to let their top players walk away for nothing. If New York really wants one of these players, they might have to trade for them while they are on the franchise tag.

Realistically, the Giants cannot afford to give up draft capital for these players either. Giants fans can hope and dream that their team lands a top-tier player like Kenny Golladay. But those fans should temper their expectations and expect to see the Giants shop a tier below. This free agency class is loaded with wide receiver talent. New York could target a less-expensive option like Curtis Samuel or Corey Davis.

If the Giants want to get their offensive playmaker, they will. But the franchise tag will likely prevent them from getting the best offensive playmaker. Alas, the Giants will target the best players they can in free agency, but the true roster-building takes place during the NFL Draft.

UFC booking Mike Perry – Daniel Rodriguez

One of the most controversial fighters in the UFC has his next date. Fighter Path was the first to report that “Platinum” Mike Perry (14-7) is going to be taking on Daniel Rodriguez (13-2) in his next fight.

The bout will take place at the UFC‘s Fight Night that is currently scheduled for April 10th. 2020 was a very eventful year for Mike Perry. He was in the news for a number of reasons and the majority were not positive.

There was footage of him getting into a bar fight and he also posted disturbing things online. However, there were some positive moments for Perry. He had a good win over Mickey Gall back in June and just after the new year, he became a father.

Perry also made headlines by having his fiancé be his only corner member for his win over Mickey Gall. The last time we saw Perry was back at UFC 255 when he took on Tim Means. Perry badly missed weight for the fight after filming himself eating junk food a few days before the weigh-ins.

The fight was incredibly entertaining and Means won the decision. No matter what people say about Mike Perry, they have to admit that he brings it inside the octagon. His opponent on April 10th is coming off of his first loss in the UFC.

UFC welterweight matchup

Standing opposite of Mike Perry on April 10th will be Daniel Rodriguez. Rodriguez made his UFC debut last year against Tim Means and won by submission. He then went on to defeat Gabriel Green and Dwight Grant before dropping a decision to Nicolas Dalby.

That loss at UFC 255 snapped a nine-fight win streak for Rodriguez. This is the highest profiled fight that Rodriguez has ever had. Whenever Perry fights, he seems to draw a lot of attention and I’m not expecting anything different.

Worth noting that this fight is taking place at 170 pounds. Hopefully we will see Perry be a little more disciplined in his approach and make the weight he’s contracted to make. Either way, this should be a fun scrap in April.

New York Yankees: Top 24 Yankee prospects, one is taller than Aaron Judge

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

The New York Yankees have plenty of arms in the system, in no small part because they seem to coax more velocity out of young pitchers than any other organization. They also have a wave of Latin American prospects coming. In recent years they’ve done more with less and hit on a few high draft picks, too. Other than Jasson Dominguez, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe, the Yankee’s area of weakness with prospects is having power hitters. It is unusual for the Yankees, but they seem focused on pitching and contact hitters rather than the power guys.

To qualify for these rankings, a player must still be eligible for the rookie of the year award in 2021, which means they may not have more than 130 at-bats, 50 innings pitched, or 45 days on an active roster heading into the season. The rankings are by Keith Law of The Athletic.

The first number is the Yankee’s number, and the second the top 100 MLB number in the listing.

1-48 Clarke Schmidt RHP

Clarke Schmidt is the New York Yankees’ number one prospect. Schmidt in spring training and summer camp dazzled manager Boone and other coaches. He, like Deivi Garcia, made his Major League debut last season. Schmidt made three appearances for the Yankees in 2020, two in relief and one as a starter. In the Majors, Schmidt had hiccups with unusual wildness resulting in no record. Should any pitcher in the Yankee rotation becomes injured, expect to see Schmidt on the mound at Yankee Stadium.

2-66 Jasson Dominguez OF

Jasson Dominguez is a powerhouse of a seventeen-year-old. He walks, talks, and acts like a man much older. He has a massive body for a young man. If all the scouts and hype are correct, he will become a big star outfield for the Yankees, but probably not until he develops further. It is not likely that he will show up at Yankee Stadium before he turns 20 years old.

3-81 Deivi Garcia RHP

Garcia made his Major League debut last season, going 3-2 in six games with an ERA of 4.98. This season, Garcia has a chance to be the anchor in the pitching rotation but more likely will start the season in Scranton Wilkes/Barre due to his elevated ERA this past season. If he isn’t there for the opening day, he surely will be at the Stadium at some point in the season.

4-NR Luis Medina RHP

Medina just missed an MLB rating. He is a great athlete with quite an arm and delivery. He can hit 99 mph but has trouble throwing strikes. In 2019 he walked 70 guys with 27 wild pitches in just over 103 innings. If he can put together a whole season building on his recent success, he could be a top 50 prospect at the worst.

5-NR Oswald Peraza SS

Peraza was signed in the international free-agent market in 2014. He is a very athletic shortstop with plus speed. Still very young, he is still growing into his body; the New York Yankees are hoping for big things from Peraza at some point.

6. Luis Gil, RHP

Gil is probably a reliever in the end but will continue to develop as a starter for now, with a dominant fastball in the upper 90s that could miss bats the way Chad Green’s does. He has the body to start and could end up in that role, but his secondary pitches will have to be developed.

7. Austin Wells, C

The Yankees’ first-round pick in 2020 was a bat-first college guy with the potential for a plus-hit tool. He’s a pull-oriented guy, but there’s nothing in the swing that says he can’t use the whole field. He’s probably not a catcher in the long run; if scouts thought he had even a 20 percent chance to catch, I would have put him in the top 100.

8. Yoendrys Gomez, RHP

Gomez sat at 94-95 mph as a starter for most of 2019, touching 98 mph with high spin, before wearing down in August, showing an average curveball and the potential for an average changeup as well. His delivery works well, and I like him as a potential three-pitch starter with no worse than average command.

9. Alexander Vizcaino, RHP

Vizcaino has been up to 99 mph with a plus-plus changeup, and the Yankees added him to the 40-man roster this winter. He’s a starter for now but could probably pitch in the big-league pen right now if need be. To remain a starter, he needs to find or develop a better breaking ball than his present slurvy slider.

10. T.J. Sikkema, LHP

Sikkema has barely pitched since the Yankees made him their competitive balance round selection in 2019, as they limited his work after he signed that summer, then had him pitch only a little in spring training last year, so he spent some time in the spring as a DoorDash driver while waiting to see if there’d be a season. He did work on his conditioning, at least, but we have to see him in games. Before the draft, he showed three pitches, up to 96 mph with a slider and changeup, showing excellent feel to pitch, working to both sides of the plate and changing speeds, and even sometimes his arm slot to get hitters out.

11. Ezequiel Duran, 2B

Duran is listed at just 5-foot-11, but the Dominican infielder, who signed for only $10,000 in 2017, produces very high exit velocities and legitimate line-drive power in games. There are swing-and-miss issues here, and his fringy arm might limit him to second base despite speed and hands that would play at short. The Yankees praise his work ethic, and he should get the most out of his tools, so he’s one to watch once we get these guys back on the field. A modest cut to his strikeout rate would mean a substantial boost to his long-term projections, making him a potential regular at second or above-average regular at short.

12. Estevan Florial, OF

Florial has been all sizzle and no steak — he has tools to rival guys in the global top 50, but he doesn’t recognize pitches and has had huge swing-and-miss issues, exacerbated by some unfortunate injuries to his hand and wrist in 2018-19. He has plus-plus power, can run and defend, and has bat speed, but he’s going to have to show better pitch identification at least to get to any of those tools. Florial was once the New York Yankees top prospect.

13. Kevin Alcantara, OF

Alcantara is still just 18 years old — he won’t turn 19 until July — but has been in the system for two and a half years, debuting in pro ball in 2019 and playing in the Yankees’ Dominican instructs last fall. He’s 6-foot-5 and has long strides to give him plus speed once underway, with good reads in center field to project as an above-average to plus defender there in time. His bat is behind, although his swing is reasonably short for someone with levers this long.

14. Albert Abreu, RHP

Abreu threw about 20 innings in 2020 between two major-league appearances and five starts in winter ball. He averaged 96.4 mph on his four-seamer in the big leagues but threw so many of them in the heart of the zone that hitters hammered the pitch, and he barely even used the curveball that at least used to be his best off-speed pitch.

15. Antonio Gomez, C

Gomez is an outstanding catch-and-throw prospect who impressed the Yankees in their Dominican instructs program this fall. He has strong hands and good rotation in his swing for future power as well, but the 19-year-old has just 57 pro-at-bats, all in 2019, in his career because of the shutdown.

16. Ken Waldichuk, LHP

The Yankees’ fifth-round pick in 2019, Waldichuk went from 90-91 mph that year to touching 98 mph in workouts this past summer, and he already had a solid-average curveball and above-average control. His delivery had the effort to it in college, but he should at least go out as a starter with the velocity spike and see if he can sustain that.

17. Anthony Seigler, C

Seigler has been snakebitten since the New York Yankees took him in the first round in 2018, suffering a concussion, a fractured kneecap, and strains to a hamstring and a quad muscle in just two-plus years in pro ball. He’s a switch-hitter and was a switch-pitcher in high school, with a strong arm and above-average receiving skills, but he hasn’t hit at all in pro ball and needs at-bats if he’s going to develop as a hitter.

18. Anthony Volpe, SS

Volpe was the Yankees’ first-round pick in 2019, despite a relative lack of tools on either side of the ball, based on their belief that he will end up with a plus hit tool because of his intelligence and instincts. He’s not a shortstop and doesn’t project to power or plus speed, so he has to hit, but like so many other prospects drafted or signed in the last year or two, he needs at-bats.

19. Josh Smith, SS

Smith was the New York Yankees’ second-round pick in 2019, with solid-average tools all around but nothing plus, although he did hit well as a junior at LSU and Staten Island after the draft. If he stays at shortstop, he probably has a utility infielder floor.

20. Beck Way, RHP

Way is a projectable, athletic right-handed starter heading to LSU from junior college had the Yankees not signed him as their fourth-round pick. He has good deception in his delivery and projects to have several solid-average offerings as he fills out. Given the Yankees’ history of helping pitchers add velocity, he’s a name to watch.

21. Hyden Wesneski RHP

Wesneski hit 100 mph with the short-season Staten Island Yankees in 2019. The Yankees selected him in the sixth round in 2019. He, like other minor leaguers, did not pitch in 2020.

22. Daniel Bies RHP

The Yankees picked Bies in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He can look down on Aaron Judge. Bies is a giant at 6 foot 9 inches and 245 pounds. He has pitched for six Yankee minor league teams getting as high as high A Tampa in the past three seasons.

23. Trevor Hauver

The New York Yankees picked Hauver in the third round of the 2020 draft. He is a left-fielder that throws and bats from the left. He is from Arizona State. The Yankees plan to convert him to a second baseman.

24. Everson Pereira

The 19-year-old Venezuelan hit .263 for the Pulaski Yankees but took a step backward in 2019 with the short-season Staten Island Yankees hitting just .171. Ranked as the 5th best international talent going into the 2017 IFA pool, he is still young with plenty of time to develop.

2021 impact

García is already in the rotation right now. However, there is competition for those last two spots depending on the health of various other candidates. Schmidt is a rotation candidate for later in the season if the need arises. Abreu could appear in the bullpen, but I doubt he starts the Yankees after their offseason acquisitions.

These are only the New York Yankees’ top prospects, they have a total of 178 minor league players that hope to someday play at Yankee Stadium. With the Minor League contraction this year the Yankees have two fewer teams, so all of these players will fight for playing time making the competition even greater.

 

After snapping losing streak at UFC 258, what’s next for Kelvin Gastelum?

This past Saturday at UFC 258, Kelvin Gastelum (16-6) was fighting with his back against the wall. The former interim title challenger had lost three fights in a row leading up to UFC 258. Gastelum had a hungry Ian Heinisch (14-4) in front of him, ready to take his spot.

Heinisch has a lot of promise, however, he hasn’t been able to break through against top competition in the UFC. He was hoping to get that done against Kelvin Gastelum. However, Gastelum showed the world on Saturday night that he’s far from done.

From the opening bell, it felt that Kelvin Gastelum was in control on Saturday night. Heinisch was supposed to have the wrestling advantage, but it was actually Kelvin Gastelum who was winning the grappling exchanges.

Heinisch had moments in going for submissions, but nothing was ever close. Gastelum dropped the final round, but with the first two rounds in the bag, it didn’t matter. An emotional Gastelum saw his hand raised for the first time in a few years. So what does the UFC do with him next?

What’s next after UFC 258?

The middleweight division is in a very interesting spot at the moment. Currently, nine of the top 12 UFC middleweights in the world are booked for their next fight. One of those being Gastelum and another being the champion, Israel Adesanya.

The other middleweight who is not booked is an interesting opponent for Gastelum. That opponent would be the third ranked middleweight in the UFC, Jared Cannonier (13-5). Cannonier just suffered his first loss at middleweight back at UFC 254.

Had Cannonier won that fight, he would have earned the next title shot. However, he fell short against Robert Whittaker. Cannonier has been recovering from an injury, but this is the perfect matchup to make.

Cannonier needs a top opponent upon his return, and Gastelum would like to get someone in or around the UFC’s top five. To me, it seems like a perfect matchup for both. However, I would expect Gastelum stays ready in case someone falls out of the upcoming matchups over the next two months.

After second straight loss at UFC 258, what’s next for Maycee Barber?

This past Saturday at UFC 258, Maycee Barber (8-2) made her return in the co-main event of the evening. Arguably the promotion’s top female prospect had a tough test in front of her in Alexa Grasso (13-3).

Barber was being built up as the future just like her nickname would suggest. Maycee Barber is ferocious when she’s on and she’s always looking for a finish. She drew some criticism when she made the bullish claim that she’d be the youngest champion in UFC history.

However, those plans were derailed in 2020 with a loss and a knee injury. There was a lot of hype behind this matchup which is why is was the co-main event of the evening. However, this fight didn’t go as Barber planned.

From the opening bell, Barber looked hesitant to get on the inside. She was throwing a lot of feints, but they were from very far away. It was all pretty much wasted movement and when she did come in to engage, Grasso was tagging her.

The first two rounds were very one-sided for Alexa Grasso at UFC 258. In the third round, we saw some glimpses of that promise from Barber. She was ferocious in trying to get a finish, but it was a little too late and she ultimately lost her second straight by decision.

What’s next after UFC 258?

It’s important to remember that Maycee Barber is just 22 years old. She has plenty of time to regroup despite back-to-back losses in the UFC. The promotion has a few options for her in her next fight.

If they want to give her a ranked opponent, the promotion could look at someone like Andrea Lee (11-5). It wasn’t long ago that Andrea Lee was looked at as a title contender. However, she’s now lost three in a row which finds her 12th in the UFC’s flyweight division.

If they want to give her someone outside the rankings, another option could be Ariane Lipski (13-6). Lipski is on the fringe of the top 15, but she just got finished by Antonina Shevchenko. Lipski would be a solid test for Barber in a fight she should be favored in.

The UFC should give her a decent opponent in her next fight. She has a ton of potential, but just because she’s lost two straight doesn’t mean she should get a layup. I think either of these matchups would be good for Maycee Barber.

New York Mets: Seth Lugo is happy that his elbow injury wasn’t worse

The New York Mets received some bad news last week, when they learned that one of their best and most consistent relievers, Seth Lugo, will need surgery to remove a bone spur in his throwing elbow. He won’t pick up a ball for the next six weeks, and then, he will have to complete rehab and get himself into game shape.

It could be May before we see Lugo on a major league mound again. Yet the pitcher is happy with the diagnosis, because it could have been much, much worse.

In an interview with MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, the Mets’ reliever confessed he felt that something was not right with his elbow last week. It began swelling and it wouldn’t subside, so he reported the issue after waiting a couple of days.

The Mets scheduled an MRI, which discovered a bone spur that had broken off his right elbow.

Lugo is no stranger to elbow problems. In fact, he has been pitching with a partially torn UCL in his elbow since 2017, much like former Yankees’ pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

“I’ve been optimistic since [Friday],” Lugo said. “Last week, I was sitting there thinking, ‘If I tore [a ligament], my career might be over, so this is devastating.’ But I feel really good now that it’s just [the bone spur]. … The worst-case scenario was, I don’t pitch again, ever, so I’m pretty happy.”

A huge blow for the Mets

Lugo has been a bullpen stalwart for the Mets, but now, he will have to get his surgery, rest, and rehab. Now, he is just relieved the swelling in his elbow stemmed from the loose bone spur and not his UCL.

“I was actually pretty happy about [the diagnosis],” said Lugo, who according to DiComo opted to rehab his UCL rather than undergo Tommy John surgery in 2017. “It was good news for me, minus missing a little bit of time. … This is kind of the first thing that’s ever popped up ever since — I don’t want to say the UCL. I don’t want to bring it up. With the MRI [on Friday], it looked great. The doctor was really impressed with how it wound up.”

“I’m just going to have the surgery and go from there,” Lugo said.

The New York Mets are well-prepared to cope with Lugo’s temporary loss. They have Edwin Diaz and Trevor May as a late-inning tandem, with fellow new signing Aaron Loup ready to take the ball when needed. Bounceback candidate such as Dellin Betances and Jeurys Familia figure to offer competent innings, too, and the team is reportedly after Trevor Rosenthal.

J.G. Pageau’s recent hot streak a big boost for the Islanders

If you’ve watched the Islanders of late, there have been a number of things that have contributed to their strong play. They’re getting big performances from up and down the lineup, including third-line center J.G. Pageau.

Last night’s sound 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres made it seven straight games with a point for Barry Trotz’s crew. And it was Pageau, whom the Isles saw first hand in the bubble postseason just how effective he can be when his game is on, who extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. His snipejob over Sabres’ netminder Linus Ullmark off the rush showed his confidence looks restored after a soft start to the season.

“I think he’s playing with a little bit of edge to him, Trotz said in the post game. “He has that edge back… He has that game rolling. He’s a very important player for any coach in this league, I’m just telling you… You can slot him anywhere… he finds a way to get it done for you so he’s very important with our bench.”

The last three games Pageau is proving Trotz’s theory right. His four points over this recent stretch — all at crucial junctures of each game — leave him with eight points in 14 games and have catapulted him up to third on the team in goals and overall points. Those numbers come down to Pageau showing consistency, which was one of the major things expected of the 28-year-old coming into his first full season with the Isles.

That was his MO when the Islanders dealt for him at last year’s trade deadline from Ottawa.

It wasn’t there early on the first month of this shortened campaign — some of that due to the revolving door of wingers on Pageau’s line — but he’s found it, even if it’s taken a little bit longer this year than some may like. The fact too his production has come when the Islanders are starting to really find their game is both a boost and can be scary for the opposition.

“Pager is a guy you win with,” Trotz also acknowledged. “He gets it done when it matters most.”

 

With how the Islanders are playing, seeing Pageau continue to thrive will really put things in full gear as the season goes on.

His recent play indicates that. And it’s leading to what means most…winning.

We’re at a point now where it seems Mathew Barzal basically embarrasses at least one player on the opposition each game now.

His victim last night was Sabres d-man Matt Irwin.

Irwin’s busted ankles along with another point for #13 — extending his point streak to nine games — was all in a night’s work.

We’re used to seeing the Isles put on defensive clinics under Barry Trotz’s watch. But what they did last night was astonishing.

The Islanders allowed Buffalo zero (YES ZERO) shots in the third period last night.

Per Eric Hornick, It marked the first time in franchise history they accomplished such a feat.

Yankees’ bullpen is finally starting to take shape

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

After signing left-handed reliever Justin Wilson, the New York Yankees‘ bullpen is starting to take shape after losing Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Holder, and Adam Ottavino.

Let’s remember that Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone could only trust three relievers when the season was on the line against the Tampa Bay Rays in the division series: Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, and Zack Britton.

With just a few hours from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, here is the state of the Yankees’ bullpen:

The circle of trust: Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Darren O’Day, Justin Wilson

After a productive offseason, we can say that the circle of trust now has five guys instead of three. Darren O’Day may be old, but he had a 1.10 ERA (2.76 FIP) in 2020 and was death to right-handed hitters.

Wilson had a 3.66 ERA in 2020, but it came with a much better 3.04 FIP. In 2019, over a larger sample, he had a 2.54 ERA.

Wilson knows what it’s like to succeed with the Yankees, as he was brilliant with them in the 2015 season. He has been averaging more than ten strikeouts per nine innings for the last four seasons.

The middle relievers: Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga

Cessa and Loaisiga should have a secure spot in the Yankees’ bullpen. Cessa’s floor is higher, but Loaisiga’s ceiling trumps Luis’.

Both should be primed for good seasons, but aren’t yet in the same “automatic”, set-and-forget status as Chapman, Green, Britton, O’Day, and Wilson.

The multiple-inning options: Asher Wojciechowski, Jhoulys Chacin, Mike King, Nick Nelson, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, Nestor Cortes

Most of these guys won’t make the opening day roster. German and Garcia may or may not start the year in the rotation, though.

Schmidt will likely be in Triple-A for at least a couple of months, while Woj, Cortes, and Chacin are emergency options.

King and Nelson could be up-and-down guys but both have the potential to stick if they perform well.

The depth options: Kyle Barraclough, Albert Abreu, Brooks Kriske, Addison Russ, Tyler Lyons, Adam Warren

Barraclough and Lyons have been successful in the past, but for the Yankees’ sake, it would be best if they aren’t needed because it would mean that a string of injuries or underperformance took place.

Abreu is actually a starter, but makes sense as a bullpen option down the road. Warren has been successful with the Yankees before, and if he is healthy and right, could ascend to the middle relievers tier.

Kriske and Russ could be ready to contribute in the summer, and they have considerable potential as high-octane relievers.