New York Giants could fix their offense by selecting Kyle Pitts in the NFL Draft

New York Giants, Kyle Pitts

The New York Giants‘ offense was putrid in 2020. Only one offense scored less points than the Giants last season. The Giants averaged only 17.5 points per game, a number that cannot translate to a winning season in today’s NFL.

The number one priority for the Giants this offseason will be to upgrade the offense. In fact, co-owner John Mara and general manager Dave Gettleman promised to add playmakers in the 2021 offseason. This has led to plenty of speculation amongst Giants fans, discussing who New York might target in free agency and the draft.

One intriguing name that has been linked to the Giants is tight end Kyle Pitts out of the University of Florida. This is an interesting prospect for the Giants to consider. New York already has an established, Pro Bowl tight end in Evan Engram. But Engram’s 2020 season left many fans frustrated and disappointed. This could lead the Giants to draft the ultra-talented Kyle Pitts in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Kyle Pitts stats and highlights

In 2020, Evan Engram was a turnover machine for the Giants. Engram dropped 11 passes last season, many of which led to interceptions. In fact, 6 passes intended for Evan Engram turned into interceptions in 2020, plus he lost one fumble and, while Daniel Jones was credited with this fumble, Engram also dropped a backwards pass from Jones that became a turnover.

There is nothing from Kyle Pitts’s collegiate career that indicates he would have problems like this in the NFL. Pitts was targeted 66 times in 2020. He hauled in 43 catches and had an incredible total of 0 drops. Not a single pass was dropped by Pitts in 2020. He was a truly reliable and dynamic receiving threat.

Not only is Kyle Pitts a dependable receiving option, he also has the ability to make electrifying plays downfield. Pitts wins at every level in a variety of ways. He has elite route-running skills for his position and the ability to make jaw-dropping catches. He lines up as an in-line tight end but also out wide or in the slot as a receiver with great efficiency.

Pitts is not a perfect prospect by any means. He is not the best blocker as an in-line tight end and is more of a wide receiver than a tight end at this point in his career. But he has the tools and traits to be molded into one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Pitts’s receiving skills are so advanced that he would be a first-round pick as a wide receiver.

In his big 6 foot 6 inch, 240 pound tight end body, there are few players at the position more dynamic than Kyle Pitts. He is truly worthy of a top-ten pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and if he is available for the selection at eleven overall, he should end up wearing a New York Giants uniform.

NASCAR: Christopher Bell steals first career win at Daytona Road Course

Bell’s late pass of Joey Logano allowed him to capture his first NASCAR Cup Series victory, a week after Michael McDowell earned his.

Joe Gibbs hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2007. Yet, his teams are still finding ways to win on Sunday.

Less than 24 hours after his grandson Ty earned a win in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start, Gibbs’ unit at the premier Cup level also featured a first-time victor. Christopher Bell earned his first Cup Series victory at Daytona International Speedway’s road course in just his second career start in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Bell would pass Joey Logano with less than two laps remaining to secure the win.

“This is the happiest moment I’ve had in a very long time. 2020 was one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever had in my racing career,” Bell said. “To be able to come back in 21 and win in the Cup Series this early on a road course is something that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”

Bell has been part of Gibbs’ developmental endeavors for several seasons, previously winning 16 races over three years in his Xfinity program. The 26-year-old also won the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title in a Toyota Tundra owned by his current teammate Kyle Busch. His rookie season at the Cup level was a struggle, driving the No. 95 Toyota for the Gibbs-affiliated Leavine Family Racing. Bell struggled in lesser equipment but showed some speed in last season’s maiden voyage on Daytona’s road course.

Early in the race, Bell took an early risk, staying on the track during a caution for debris on the track toward the end of the first 16-lap stage while a majority of the rest of the field pitted. The No. 20 failed to earn stage points with a 12th-place finish, but there was no denying its speed. Defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, also the winner of the past four road course events, dominated the early portions of the race, but Bell’s Toyota was matching his times. Elliott and Bell were running in the top two spots after each pitted at lap 57 of 70 when a caution came out for rain.

Both Bell and Elliott visited pit road, but Elliott fell out of contention after two separate incidents with Corey LaJoie and later Bell’s teammate Denny Hamlin, relegating him to a 21st-place finish. Bell won the race off pit road and restarted 12th, quickly making his way through the field on fresher tires. He made it up to sixth after the Elliott-LaJoie get-together and another incident involving Tyler Reddick brought out cautions.

Going back green, Bell worked his way through on-track chaos and some of the sport’s most renowned names to earn his way to the front. His pass of Logano left behind Hamlin, as well as prior champions Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick.

“The last lap was pretty surreal,” Bell recalled. “All race long I kind of felt like I was trying to do my best job and not screwing up, hit my marks, not overdriving the corners. Whenever I got by the 22 coming to the white flag, I knew I was faster than him. I ran him down from a while back. All I had to do was get a couple of good corners and get away.”

With his win, each of the first two events of the Cup Series season has featured a first-time winner, following Michael McDowell’s win at the Daytona 500 (run on the traditional oval) last weekend. This is the third time a season has opened with consecutive first-time winners, with such a feat also occurring in 1949 and 1950.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Dixie Vodka 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox).

Race Notes

  • McDowell got into trouble on the first lap of the race, missing the first turn and losing his steering. However, the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford recovered to finish 8th, earning consecutive top-ten finishes for the first time in his 14-year career.

 

  • AJ Allmendinger ran his first Cup Series race in November 2018, finishing 7th in Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Chevrolet. Allmendinger earned his lone career Cup victory at another road course, Watkins Glen, in 2014 and has won four more on the Xfinity circuit. He is currently racing full-time for Kaulig in the Xfinity Series.

 

  • Reddick was one of four cars not to finish, a list that also included Josh Bilicki (brakes), Ross Chastain (crash), and Quin Houff (engine).

 

  • Hamlin takes over the Cup Series points lead, pacing Logano by 12 points.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: An interesting position battle is shaping up in the outfield

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

On Friday, the New York Yankees reportedly re-signed Brett Gardner to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a team and a player option for 2022. The signing wasn’t a huge surprise, but long-anticipated after waiting until mid-February to ink a deal.

With the Gardner signing, it jumbles up the outfield picture for 2021. Gardner will be the fourth outfielder this season, with Clint Frazier, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron Judge as the starters. Giancarlo Stanton will DH this season but can play outfield if absolutely neccessary.

This puts both Mike Tauchman and Greg Allen in a position battle for the “fifth outfielder” role. The Yankees will carry a three or four-man bench for most of the season with a back-up catcher, an infielder, and possibly two outfielders. Between Tauchman and Allen, whoever wins the position battle will likely be the second outfielder behind Gardner.

Mike Tauchman

Tauchman has been solid for the Yankees in his short tenure, playing in 130 games since the beginning of the 2019 season. He’s hit .268 with a .807 OPS and a 116 OPS+ in pinstripes. He provides lefty power, knocking 13 home runs as a Yankee. Additionally, Tauchman brings speed and a good glove to the table.

Greg Allen

The Yankees acquired Greg Allen in a trade from the San Diego Padres this off-season, and he has the potential to make an impact. Allen’s one of the quickest players in the league and a decent defender with a 0.4 dWAR. Offensively, he has just a .641 career OPS but is more of a contact hitter with a .251 career average.

Tauchman is overall the better player, but what could help Allen is that he’s a switch hitter. The Yankees need lefties, and even though Tauchman is a lefty, having switch hitters on the roster can go a long way for match-ups.

With position players reporting to Spring Training this week, it’ll be interesting to see how this outfield position battle plays out.

New York Yankees: Injury update on all the Yankees players

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees are going into the 2021 season much more healthy than in the last two seasons, yet questions remain. Here is an update on all the player’s injuries, surgeries, and lingering problems from last season.

Luis Severino:

Luis Severino started to be a star pitcher for the Yankees and a possible ace after two years of a .700 or greater winning percentages. In 2018 he was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in record 32 starts. That all fell apart before spring training in 2019 when he required Tommy John surgery. It was thought that he might be back for 2020, but a setback prevented that. It was then expected that he would be back in August of 2021.

Now that spring training is going into the second week of workouts, Bryan Hoch, an MLB insider, has reported that Luis Severino was tossing at 120 feet. And manager Aaron Boone knows that first hand as the manager actually caught the former Yankees star recently. Boone said he was as strong as anybody in the bullpen and would likely throw from the mound in the next week or two. It now appears he could be back with the team as early as mid-June, although he will surely be on innings limitations.

Corey Kluber:

Corey Kluber, twice a Cy Young Award winner, has had some back luck the last two years. During 2019 he was hit by a ball the prematurely ended his season. In the offseason, he was traded to the Texas Rangers. He didn’t work out for the Rangers in the short 2020 season. In his first game, he developed a shoulder injury that only allowed him to pitch one inning. According to reports, he is back to form. The Yankees had an inside track to his recovery as he worked out with the Cressey organization that has ties to the Yankees.  He also impressed in a pitching demonstration before he was signed.

“I feel really good right now. No issues with [my shoulder] now or anywhere along the rehab process. That’s encouraging,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a normal spot for spring training. I don’t feel like I’m still working on improving the shoulder or anything like that. I think it’s in a spot where, obviously, any part of your body, it takes maintenance throughout the year, but I’m not putting any more emphasis on that than anything else on this point.”

Kluber says he feels great and is ready to go and expects to be on the mound for the New York Yankees in the first week of the regular season.

Jameson Taillon:

Taillon was coming off his second Tommy John surgery and did not pitch in 2020. During his rehab time, he has made big changes to his mechanics, shortening his arm path and working to generate more power from his legs — both of which can help him protect his elbow. Taillon is now nineteen months out from his last surgery and ready to go in spring training. Taillon and Gerrit Cole were pitching buddies while with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2018 he was 14-10 with a low 3.20 ERA. He feels with the mechanical adjustments; he can now be an even better pitcher for the New York Yankees.

Gio Urshela:

Gio Urshela was another trooper playing through injury last season. On September 4th, he was diagnosed with a bone spur in his right elbow. He went on the IL and returned eleven days later and played the rest of the season with the problem. It looked like the spur would not be a problem at the end of the season, but it flared up again while in Columbia, and surgery to remove it became necessary. Unfortunately, the coronavirus delayed that surgery. The surgery was finally done in December with a three-month recovery time. Manager Boone has said that Urshela is doing well, and although he may not be used in exhibition games due to an abundance of caution, he will be ready for the regular season.

Luke Voit:

Luke Voit was last year’s home run king for all of baseball, hitting 22 long balls, but it wasn’t always easy running the bases. During the last half of the season and in the postseason, he was dealing with foot issues. It was diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. Voit could have gone on the IL, but the kind of player with his determination would not allow him to do so. He had a PRP shot and dealt with it like a trooper. It has been reported the foot problem is no longer an issue. Voit was a Thurmon Munson award winner this month.

Luckily for the first time since 2018, the New York Yankees have their two monster sluggers in good shape going into the new season. Both Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are healthy going into spring training, which is great news for Yankees fans. If these two can stay healthy throughout the season, there may be no stopping the Yankees.

In other good news, Gleyber Torres, who was caught off guard last season with his conditioning due to the split spring training, is in good shape and ready for the season, according to manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees also have the return of Domingo German, who was not injured last season but suspended. Although all fans and even some players aren’t thrilled he is back because of his off-field entanglements, he could be a big help in the starting rotation and eventually show the man he can be.

For the New York Yankees and all the MLB teams, this will be a year of caution in how they deal with pitchers and position players as they adjust to a season nearly three times the length of last season.  The Yankees, with their depth, may have an edge on some of the other teams but will be careful in limited innings pitched and dole out days off to keep players fresh for a postseason run.

Yankees: New details about Domingo German’s domestic abuse case will shock you

New York Yankees, Domingo German

New information has recently come to light if you are unfamiliar with New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German’s suspension due to a domestic abuse case in 2019. German missed the end of the 2019 campaign and the entire 2020 season due to this predicament, but management has welcomed him back despite the horrific actions he displayed.

Skipper Aaron Boone stated that he spoke with German during his first press conference of the year. They decided to bring him back and give him a second chance. With the new information presenting a more serious issue, players and fans may demand his release.

Lindsey Adler of “The Athletic” got to the bottom of the story, discovering new details that indicate something even more serious than before:

In September 2019, Germán and his girlfriend attended a charity gala held by then-teammate CC Sabathia. Many of Germán’s 2019 teammates were also there with their families. Germán slapped his girlfriend at the event, sources said, but the MLB investigation focused primarily on what happened at his home later that night.

According to multiple league sources, including a person with knowledge of the MLB investigation, Germán was intoxicated and became physically violent toward his girlfriend until she hid in a locked room. The victim is said to have contacted the wife of another Yankees player, and the couple drove to Germán’s home late at night. The victim remained with the teammate’s wife, while the player attempted to calm down Germán, who is said to have been angry and belligerent.

It is truly a shame that German fell ill to this unacceptable scenario. During the 2019 season, German displayed raw talent that the Yankees were ecstatic about moving forward. He finished with a 4.03 ERA over 143 innings, but none of that matters now after missing more than a year of baseball and bigger mental issues coming to light.

Justifying his return after a simple domestic abuse case was already a tough sell, but the new details make this entirely different, as he may display some sort of anger moving forward.

Since the suspension started, German has posted plenty of cryptic messages via Instagram and social media, eventually deleting them and causing confusion within the fanbase and upper management. While they do feel he can be a focal point for them this season, sometimes you have to take the high road, and the Yankees have an image they need to uphold.

Should the New York Knicks consider trading RJ Barrett in blockbuster deal?

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

If the New York Knicks really want to acquire a star player, they are going to have to give up some premium assets. The Knicks have been linked to Washington star Bradley Beal, who is a bonafide superstar and would immediately make the Knicks a better team.

While Beal has only reached the All-Star game twice, he’s averaged over 30 points per game the past two seasons and is just 27 years old. Over 25 games this year, Beal is averaging 32.9 points, 4.6 assists, and 5.2 rebounds, arguably his best season to date.

Michael Kay stated several days ago that the Knicks were quietly trying to lure Bradley Beal out of Washington:

“I’ve got it from a very good source that the Knicks are quietly interested in a Bradley Beal. How’s that gonna happen? He’s signed to a long-term deal. He has not said he wanted to be traded. But you forget, the Knicks have World Wide Wes on their side. He’s been in the ears of some of Beal’s people and kinda nudging them that this might be the time to push for a trade,” Kay said on his ESPN radio show last week.

The issue, Washington would likely demand a massive deal, including multiple first-round picks, some of which would be unprotected. In addition, they might even ask for RJ Barrett, a player the Knicks might feel too highly about to part ways with.

Bobby Marks of ESPN told Alder Almo of ESM that the Knicks would have to be willing to give up RJ Barrett in the deal.

Ultimately, acquiring a player like Bradley would be costly, but pairing him with Julius Randle, Immanuel  Quickley, Mitchell Robinson, and more would be a playoff-caliber move. In addition, they have plenty of current players on rookie deals, meaning they would still have more salary space to acquire another big name this upcoming off-season.

Alternatively, RJ Barrett is just 20 years old and averaging 16.5 points per game this season over 33.7 minutes. He’s taking a slight step forward but has shown a bit more maturity in his game, and considering Beal was averaging very similar numbers at the same age back in 2013, there is hope that Barrett could develop into an elite player, but it might be five years down the line.

The real question is, do the Knicks favor making the playoffs now or later, and do they value Randle enough to inject more talent into the starting squad alongside him, or they feel as though their youth is capable of picking up the load when he eventually moves on?

The Legacy of Hinchliffe Stadium Part III: Fall of a Champion

Hinchliffe Stadium has played host to some of the most renowned names in baseball history. How did it revert to this state of neglect?

At its core, Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, NJ should be a shrine to American resilience and ingenuity.

It was the site where the professional career of Hall of Famer Larry Doby began through a tryout in front of the Manley family, the owners of the Newark Eagles. Doby would become one of many legends whose cleats would touch what is now a concrete lot. Barnstorming and Negro League endeavors gave way to Monte Irvin (a longtime friend of Doby’s and another Newark Eagles discovery at Hinchliffe), Josh Gibson, James “Cool Papa” Bell, and many others as they worked their way through games that recently gained recognition from Major League Baseball.

“I think the story of the Negro Leagues embodies the story of the American spirit unlike any story in the annals of our country’s history,” Bob Kendrick, President of Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, said about why preserving the Hinchliffe Stadium is so important. “It contains everything that we pride ourselves about being American. It is about pride and it’s about passion, it’s about perseverance, determination, courage, the refusal to accept the notion that you’re unfit to do anything…that is the American way.”

“The Negro Leagues, to me, were about as American as you can be, because it was one of the most living examples of American ingenuity,” said Larry Doby Jr., the son of the first African American to hit a home run in World Series history at a recent event hosted by the Union Public Library. “Necessity is the mother of invention…(the Wright) brothers that were in Ohio and looked at that bird and thought ‘we want to fly like that’…it’s kind of the same with Rube Foster and all those other guys that started the Negro Leagues. They knew that guys were good enough to play, but they knew they didn’t have a venue. American ingenuity being for everybody, they decided to start their own league.”

The stadium is being treated as anything but the shrine Kendrick, Doby Jr., and many others feel it should be. It is instead laden with graffiti and uncontrolled greenery that seeps through the concrete. Potholes litter the sidewalks leading to the dilapidated entry gates. There have been some slight refurbishments in the form of a bright, colorful mural in Doby’s honor, but the area remains an eyesore, especially compared to the neighboring Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.

How did it come to this? According to those in charge, bureaucratic turmoil and promises lost led to the unfortunate deterioration.

The Paterson Public Schools has had control of the facility since 1963 and countless failings of the stadium have followed. The city’s high school athletic programs continued to be staged at the stadium through the mid-1990s, almost a decade after the New Jersey Eagles of the short-lived American Soccer League staged two seasons in Paterson. By then a supposed lack of funds and even outright indifference led to the stadium’s deterioration. The baseball field was controversially realigned in 1963 (creating a right field fence that is approximately 200 feet from home plate), Astroturf was installed over asphalt (leading to injuries), and extensions added to the stadium led to the formation of a sinkhole that caused structural damage.

In 1997, shortly after the Paterson Public Schools deemed the stadium unfit for events, Hinchliffe had a chance to either be demolished for $4 million or restored for an additional $800,000. The lack of action from the superintendent, Laval Wilson, has placed the stadium on its slovenly path.

Efforts to preserve the stadium, spurred on by the inactivity and threats of demolition, had been further hindered on the national level. After the National Register of Historic Places offered its seal in the mid-2000s, the Paterson Public Schools applied for a grant through “Save America’s Treasures,” a program set up by the U.S. National Park Service.

However, through a clerical error by the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, the “Save America’s Treasures,” funding was denied on the grounds that Hinchliffe held only “local” value and significance…despite Hinchliffe’s role in changing the course of baseball history by introducing names like Doby and Irvin to wider audiences.

Paterson native Brian LoPinto has been at the forefront of the ongoing restoration efforts. As co-founder of the Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium (FOHS), LoPinto says that such endeavors are not centered on fundraising, contrary to popular belief. Rather, FOHS focused on grant writing and spreading awareness.

LoPinto’s journey is perhaps comparable to the song “The Pretender” by the Foo Fighters, namely the lyrics “I’m the voice inside your head you refuse to hear, I’m the face that you have to face mirroring your stare, I’m what’s left; I’m what’s right, I’m the enemy.” It’s one of his particular favorites off the 2007 album Echos, Silence, Patience, & Grace.

“I think the biggest obstacle (in restoration), quite frankly, would be the Paterson Public Schools,” LoPinto said. “They have owned the stadium since 1963. From that point to the present day, they’ve made bad decisions.”

“At the end of the day, they just neglected it and neglected it,” he continued. “The old saying dictates that, if you take care of the little things, the bigger things take care of themselves. Not only did they not just take care of it, but they also didn’t want to let it go. It just didn’t make sense. They still own it today, but really the city should own it.”

Progress has been made in recent months through an allotment in tax credits to the city with a good portion expected to go toward the Hinchliffe’s renovation efforts. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy made this an announcement in December, with Dwight Gooden on hand as well.

Gooden never played at Hinchliffe Stadium but made his mark across the river as a star hurler for both the Mets and Yankees. On that cold day on Hinchliffe’s asphalt, debate playfully rose over whether his time in the orange and blue, or pinstripes with an interlocking NY was more prominent. Regardless, Gooden created unity through one issue that could never be disputed: the national impact that Hinchliffe Stadium has had on America’s Pastime.

“I think it’s a great thing that can build the city back up, to see people giving their time, especially with everything that has taken place this year, it means a lot,” Gooden said.

In speaking of the ultimate goal behind the restoration, he added: “I think the message is that it’s amazing the things we can do when we all come together. At the end of the day, we’re all brothers and sisters and we’re shooting for the same goal: to help the upcoming generations in the things that they know.”

ESM’s series on Hinchliffe Stadium in celebration of Black History Month concludes next Sunday, centering on the future of the site 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants could already be out on top wide receivers in free agency

Allen Robinson, New York Giants

The New York Giants will be aggressive this off-season in adding offensive talent to assist Daniel Jones as he enters the third year on his rookie contract. If the Giants truthfully feel that Jones can be their franchise quarterback, giving him the weapons necessary is a priority, so we should expect them to be active in the free-agent market, but there could be some pushback by teams looking to retain the top receivers.

The consensus is that Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears and Kenny Golladay of the Detroit Lions are the two top WRs on the market. With that being said, talented players are oftentimes franchise tagged by their teams to keep them around on a one-year deal. Both Robinson and Golladay could be doomed to this reality in the coming weeks, which would make their desire to hit free agency and sign long-term deals a bit more tumultuous.

CBS’s Jason La Canfora believes that Golladay will be tagged by Detroit:

Multiple league sources have told me Golladay will get the tag after his relationship with the prior regime in Detroit got rocky over prolonged extension negotiations. Could this be an eventual tag and trade? People around the league wouldn’t rule that out with the Lions rebuilding and trying to amass picks.

Golladay finished the 2020 season playing just five games, picking up 338 yards and two scores. He recorded a career-high 62.5% catch rate over the small sample size, but he would be a perfect fit with the Giants and coordinator Jason Garrett. As a big possession receiver, he can win 50/50 balls and dominate man coverage. Some would argue he is a proven receiver that has room to grow, and giving Jones a player of his quality would exponentially make him more effective.

As for Robinson, who is coming off a solid season with 1,250 yards and six scores, he will likely demand the most money on the market if he is not tagged. The expectation is that Chicago will do just that and potentially look to trade him for draft capital. However, this might be a good off-season for him to endure that reality, that way, he can cash in next year when the salary cap rises.

If both Kenny and Allen are off the board for the Giants, the mid-tier options are still somewhat attractive. Targeting Curtis Samuel and Corey Davis will likely be the Giants’ latter options, and I’m sure they’re preparing for that reality.

 

New York Mets: David Peterson Ready For Starting Pitching Competition

New York Mets, David Peterson

David Peterson was the second-best starting pitcher for the 2020 New York Mets, but he will need to earn his spot in the 2021 rotation. The additions of Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, and a returning Marcus Stroman pushes Peterson to the fifth spot.

He will compete with fellow left-hander Joey Lucchesi and former Miami Marlin Jordan Yamamoto. Peterson may deserve the fifth starter job, but he welcomes the challenge from Manager Luis Rojas.

“I want to come in here and do my thing and let the rest take care of itself,” Peterson said during Saturday’s Zoom call. “However I can help the team win, that’s what I’m here to do.” Spoken like a true competitor, Peterson does not want something handed to him when he still has more to prove.

Peterson had a 3.44 ERA in 10 games (9 starts) last season, which was far more productive than his competition. Despite the small sample size success, the Mets have seen the same story before. In 2016, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo burst on the scene when the Mets needed pitching. Both had ERAs under 3.00, but Gsellman regressed to 5.03 while Lugo stayed solid at 3.61 over the next four seasons.

Innings Limit

No matter how well Peterson pitches, he may end up starting the season in the bullpen. Peterson has never thrown more than 128 innings in a minor league season, and the Mets aim to limit his innings jump. Starting his season as a reliever will allow the Mets to do so without shutting him down towards September and October.

The Mets could also use a six-man rotation when Noah Syndergaard returns. They’ll kill two birds with one stone by conserving innings for both Syndergaard and Peterson. It will also allow Peterson to keep the same role for the entire season and presumably move to the bullpen once the postseason starts. Whether in the rotation or bullpen, Peterson will have a huge role on the 2021 roster. He will be one of two left-handed pitchers and the only one who can pitch multiple innings.

Yankees’ Aaron Boone details Brett Gardner’s impact after interesting extension

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

It was only a matter of time before the New York Yankees signed veteran outfielder Brett Gardner to a new contract. General manager Brian Cashman hadn’t spoken to Gardner in weeks, but it didn’t take much time for them to settle on a deal. Gardy will stick with the Yankees for one more season at least, with $4 million guaranteed for 2021 and an option for the 2022 season.

Gardner’s influence is clear, especially with Clint Frazier taking over the starting job in left field. The veteran will likely be utilized in a depth role, mitigating fatigue in the outfield and presenting a healthy alternative in case injuries arise. Skipper Aaron Boone was excited about the attention of Brett, noting his impact on the squad.

“One of the things I look at is toughness, the ability to post, the ability to play through things,” Boone said. “The premium he puts on being ready to go each and every day. There is a blue-collar-ness to the way he goes about his business. I think that is infectious. He’s got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder that he plays with. I don’t even know how old he is now, but he’s got a young man’s body; he’s in great shape. He has aged very well. And I think you’ve seen him really adapt and apply information to continue to make himself in a lot of ways a better player, but certainly still a very relevant player.”

“First, we’re going to get elite defense, whether he’s been in left field for us or in center field,” Boone said. “A guy that, even when you consider him with our lineup, he’s been a guy that’s hit for power. He’s been a guy that, as we’ve been a little bit more of a right handed dominant team, he’s been a nice break in the lineup for us. I’ve kind of hit him everywhere. He’s hit lead off, he’s hit third. He’s hit sixth, he’s hit ninth for us. And he really has thrived at different times in all of those roles and, again, with us being very right handed, he’s been a guy that has given us a little bit of balance offensively on our lineup, which we like.”

Garder is still capable of producing for the Yankees:

This past season, Gardy finished with a .223 average, five homers, and 15 RBIs. He recorded a career-high 16.5% walk ride, indicating an evergreen eye. Gardner seems to be in tiptop shape, retaining his speed and quality defense. After all, he’s only two years removed from 28 homer season, indicating he might have a bit more gas left in the tank. Retaining him is a solid move, and at his price tag, it’s more about loyalty than anything else.