New York Giants: Time to move on from Kyle Pitts draft talk

New York Giants, Kyle Pitts

During the offseason so far, one of the players linked to the New York Giants the most has been Kyle Pitts. The tight end is athletic, has a good record as both a receiver and a more traditional tight end, and could be the best playmaker to come out at the position since Rob Gronkowski. Some say he might become the highest drafted tight end in the modern era.

However, even if the New York Giants have a chance to take him with the eleventh pick, they should pass on him. And it looks like the front office knows that too, based on the way they signed tight end Kyle Rudolph this offseason.

Rudolph isn’t Pitts. He’s 31 years old and nobody is expecting off the charts production from him, even if he does have a history of being a red zone threat tight end. He is, however, joining a position group that already includes Evan Engram – primarily a receiving tight end.

Pitts would be a good weapon to add, but at some point, the Giants have to consider their roster. They’re already banking on the potential of one receiving tight end. They don’t need to add another one while they still have Engram in the starting lineup and other big needs. And even if they did add Pitts, it’s debatable if they could get the most out of both him and Engram at the same time.

There’s usually more wide receivers on the field than tight ends, after all. And it’s harder for tight ends to get open if the receivers can’t take the attention of the defense.

The Giants have a need at receiver among other spots that need patching up. Their decision to go with Rudolph to bolster the position instead of the flashy draft pick shows where their likely priorities are on the matter: address other needs in the draft, and don’t take the big name tight end that likely can’t be fully utilized.

New York Rangers fall on two Ovechkin third period goals

The New York Rangers took a one-goal lead into the third period, but Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period and the Washington Capitals rallied for their seventh consecutive win by the score of 2-1.

Artemi Panarin scored the first and only Ranger goal at 16:42 of the first period. Per the fine people at NYR Stats&Info, Panarin extended his point streak to four games. He has also registered a point in each of his last eight games against the Capitals and has tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his last five games against Washington.

Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev allowed just those two goals to Ovechkin on 18 shots in the loss.

The New York Rangers were done in by Ovechkin

Coming into the game, Ovechkin had six goals and one assist over the last 10 games for Washington.  He recorded his 147th career multi-goal game and tied Gordie Howe for fourth place on the League’s all-time list. Ovechkin has seven goals in his past seven games and 720 in the NHL, 11 behind Marcel Dionne for fifth place in NHL history.

After the game, Jacob Trouba talked about the game and the Ovechkin goals in his post-game Zoom conference. “We had some breakdowns but we liked how we played. He had a couple of rebounds in the last five minutes, it’s tough to lose that way. That is a team that has been playing really well and they have some high-powered offensive weapons.”

Acting coach Kris Knoblauch said in his post-game Zoom conference that “I think on the first Ovechkin goal it was a matter of sorting out who was the first man back. Goal scorers find a way to score goals and usually it is around the net. It was a small mistake but ultimately you can’t keep him off the score sheet all the time.”

There was a little bit of good news on Friday, as the Rangers reported that goaltender Igor Shesterkin skated Friday morning and remains day to day with a strained groin. Keith Kinkaid backed up Georgiev while Shesterkin missed his eighth consecutive game since getting injured on March 4.

The two teams will square off again in Washington with a 7 p.m. puck drop.

 

 

UFC books Jack Hermansson – Edmen Shahbazyan

UFC 262 is getting a fun one at middleweight for the main card. The LA Times was the first to report today that Jack Hermansson (21-6) will be taking on “The Golden Boy” Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1).

Of course, we learned last night that the card was being headlined by the vacant lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira. Today, we learned that UFC 262 will take place in Houston in front of a crowd at the Toyota Center.

Jack Hermansson had a huge win halfway through the year last year against former title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum. With that win, Hermansson was 5-1 in his last six and appeared just a fight or two away from a UFC title shot.

However, that is when he ran into Marvin Vettori. The two men fought in December and Vettori won a decision in an absolute war. It was a tough defeat for The Joker, but he’s ready to get back into the swing of things. He’s getting one of the UFC‘s brightest young prospects in his next matchup.

Will the UFC hype come back?

There was so much hype in 2020 around Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan has all of the skills to be a world champion and he’s only 23 years old. In his first big step up in competition, Shahbazyan demolished Brad Tavares.

After that win, the UFC decided to give him a headlining spot against Derek Brunson. Shahbazyan ultimately fell short and it was a humbling moment for the young fighter. Frankly, I’m a little surprised by this booking decision.

Shahbazyan is still incredibly young and the UFC believes he can be a star. Giving him Jack Hermansson off of his first loss is not an easy rebound matchup. In fact, it’s a brutal matchup, but Shahbazyan does have all the skills needed to get the win. Either way, it should be a fantastic matchup on May 15th.

Walker Superb, Lindor Hits Grand Slam in Mets 8-5 Win Over Cards

Taijuan Walker became a bigger part of the New York Mets rotation after Carlos Carrasco‘s hamstring injury. He took the mound against the St. Louis Cardinals and was tremendous in the Mets 8-5 victory.

Walker made it look easy in his second start of the spring. He only allowed one hit over four innings and struck out three Cardinals. Walker needed just 50 pitches to get through his outing, and his slider was his best pitch.

The offense tormented Carlos Martinez once again as they tagged him for five runs in three innings. Pete Alonso continued to scorch the ball with a first inning RBI double to drive in Brandon Nimmo. The double was Alonso’s fifth of the spring and moved his average to .400.

In the second, Tomas Nido flicked a home run over the right field fence with the help of the Florida wind. The bulk of the scoring came in a five-run fifth when J.D. Davis beat the throw home on a fielder’s choice for the first run. Francisco Lindor capped off the inning with a grand-slam which made it a 7-0 game. Jerry Blevins put up a scoreless top half of the inning to relieve Walker.

In the eighth, Johneshy Fargas recorded a hustle triple, then scored on an error from third baseman Evan Mendoza to drive in a run. Jeff McNeil had some tough luck as he was hit by a pitch three times in three different spots. Luckily, none resulted in any injuries.

Oswalt Struggles

Corey Oswalt took over for the sixth and allowed plenty of hard contact. Oswalt allowed a two-run homer to Max Moroff and an RBI double before Trevor Hildenberger cleaned up the mess. He got an opportunity to redeem himself in the seventh inning thanks to the spring training rules. Oswalt pitched a 1-2-3 inning but lost it again in the eighth. He allowed another two-run homer to push his line to five runs in just 2.2 innings pitched. Daniel Zamora closed out the win with a scoreless ninth inning.

Saturday is a day off before Jacob deGrom takes the mound against the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach on Sunday. For the first time, pitchers will bat, allowing deGrom ready for his first plate appearances since 2019. Hopefully, the Mets wrap deGrom in bubble wrap to prevent any other injuries to their rotation.

 

 

Mets’ slugger Dominic Smith still out, but is making progress

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

New York Mets’ outfielder Dominic Smith has spent most of the week sidelined with an annoying wrist injury that refuses to completely go away. The slugger was initially scratched from the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Miami Marlins with the issue, and hasn’t played since.

However, there is an encouraging update on his ailment. The Mets’ slugger, who broke out last season, took batting practice on Friday, one day ahead of schedule. The soreness is on his right wrist, but the issue likely won’t sideline him for very long, as he is still expected to be a fixture in the Opening Day lineup.

Smith didn’t take the field on Friday, but he does seem to be turning a corner and is expected to be back in Grapefruit League action soon for the Mets. According to what the player himself told manager Luis Rojas, he “would be playing” if it were the regular season, indicating that the soreness is actually not that bad.

The Mets need to have Smith’s bat in the lineup

During 2020’s shortened campaign, Smith had a full-on breakout performance, batting .316 with 10 home runs, 27 runs scored, 42 RBI, and a .993 OPS. If he had a clear defensive home, he would play virtually every day for the Mets.

However, his natural first base position is blocked by Pete Alonso, so he figures to get semi-regular playing time in left field for the Mets, as they try to give at-bats to Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Kevin Pillar and Albert Almora in the outfield.

If the New York Mets and the rest of the National League teams could have the designated hitter spot available, the Mets could simply pencil Smith’s name, or JD Davis, there every day, but MLB owners and the players’ association couldn’t agree on it as well as other topics.

UFC Vegas 22 Preview: Gregor Gillespie – Brad Riddell

In the co-main event of UFC Vegas 22, we will see a very intriguing matchup in the lightweight division. The 15th ranked contender at lightweight, Gregor Gillespie (13-1), will be taking on rising contender, Brad Riddell (9-1).

Gregor Gillespie is making his UFC return after being off for the last year and a half. The last time we saw Gillespie, he had his first big challenge at lightweight in the form of Kevin Lee. Gillespie had looked dominant, but taking on a former UFC title challenger was a big step up in competition.

In the end, Gillespie was flatlined by a headkick and Lee handed him his first loss. Prior to that loss, Gillespie had been 6-0 in the UFC with five of those wins coming via stoppage. Gillespie hasn’t been hurt, but he’s taken some much needed time off to improve on some things for his next run.

Standing across from him is the City Kickboxing product, Brad Riddell. Riddell is one of the best pure strikers to come out of City Kickboxing. He’s incredibly entertaining to watch and so far he’s only stumbled once in his professional career.

So far, Riddell is 3-0 with three decisions in the UFC. He’s going to be looking for his seventh straight win overall tomorrow night. If Riddell is able to win tomorrow, expect a ranking to be by his name next week.

UFC Vegas 22 Prediction

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 22 we are going to see that classic striker versus grappler matchup. In reality, it’s not that difficult of a fight to break down. It’s ultimately going to come down to who can execute their game plan.

Gregor Gillespie is a Division 1 national champion wrestler. He is suffocating when he gets his hands on you and it’s incredibly difficult to get him. For Gillespie, he’s going to be trying for takedowns right away tomorrow night.

On the flip side, you have Riddell. Riddell is one of the best strikers from a gym that producers sensational strikers. For him to be successful tomorrow, he’s got to keep the fight standing. If this fight is contested on the feet, Riddell should be in good shape.

Usually when you look at these matchups, they favor the wrestler. I don’t believe that UFC Vegas 22 is going to be any different. Would I be shocked to see Riddell pull off a slick KO? No, but at the end of the day, I don’t see him keeping Gillespie off of him. This fight is going to Gregor Gillespie tomorrow night.

Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton eager to regain his MVP form

In the 2017 season, his last with the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton played like an MVP, hitting .281 and smashing 59 home runs while playing half of his games in the pitching-friendly home of the Fish. That year, he slugged .631, drove in 132 runs and scored 123. Seeing that kind of production and taking advantage of the Marlins’ desire to trade his mammoth contract, the New York Yankees traded for the hulking outfielder.

The Yankees know, based on that jaw-droppíng 2017 season, that Stanton can play at an MVP level. He was very good in 2018 in the Bronx, but not quite productive as four years ago.

The 2019 and 2020 seasons were mostly lost due to injuries for Stanton, and some Yankees’ fans have grown frustrated at him. Injuries are not Stanton’s fault, and the current designated hitter is eager to come back strong and prove the doubters wrong.

The Yankees’ slugger is capable of big things if healthy

Don Mattingly, Stanton’s manager in that 2017 campaign, watched in awe how the slugger hit homer after homer. “He changed the way the other team approached him in the order,” Mattingly told MLB.com. “And he changed me as a manager trying to get him pitched to.”

Right now, Stanton is fully healthy, just like fellow injury-prone slugger Aaron Judge. The Yankees are rejoicing at the opportunity to have them both at the same time in the lineup, something that hasn’t happened a lot in the last couple of years.

“We saw [in the playoffs] what I feel like, if [Stanton] had been healthy in ’19 and ’20, what we would have seen throughout those seasons,’’ Aaron Boone said recently. “If he can stay healthy, he’s gonna turn in a special season. I feel in a lot of ways, he’s a better hitter than when he won the MVP.”

We are just a couple of weeks away of finding out what those two can do in the same batting order.

UFC Vegas 22 Preview: Derek Brunson – Kevin Holland

Derek Brunson

Tomorrow night at UFC Vegas 22, we have a huge matchup in the main event of the evening. Top ten middleweights Kevin Holland (21-5) and Derek Brunson (21-7) will go head-to-head as both look to continue their march towards a UFC title shot.

You couldn’t have had a better 2020 than Kevin Holland. After getting submitted by Brendan Allen in late 2019, Holland took some time and returned to the octagon in May. That night, Holland knocked out Anthony Hernandez in just 39 seconds.

However, that was just where the party began for Kevin Holland. Overall, Holland went 5-0 inside the octagon between May and December. He finished things off at UFC 256 with a highlight reel knockout over Jacare Souza.

Holland has everything you look for in a star. He’s got an exciting style and an entertaining personality to match. However, he’s going to have his hands full tomorrow night with the veteran, Derek Brunson.

While overlooked by many, nobody should sleep on Derek Brunson. Since 2014, Brunson has gone 10-5 in the UFC. However, his losses are to Israel Adesanya, Jacare Souza, Anderson Silva, Robert Whittaker, and Yoel Romero.

Only the best of the best have gotten the better of Brunson inside the octagon. Last August, Brunson was tasked with taking on another UFC hype train in Edmen Shahbazyan. Brunson dominated the fight and he’s looking to derail another hype train tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 22 Prediction

This is such a fun matchup and to me it will tell me a lot about Kevin Holland. When it comes to Derek Brunson, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. He’s been in there with the best the UFC has to offer.

Holland has incredible striking, speed, and he’s very underrated on the ground. However, we have seen him gas out in fights when he can’t get a finish. The Darren Stewart fight was the perfect example and Holland almost lost that fight.

For Derek Brunson, he needs to wrestle to get the win tomorrow night. He’s not going to get his hand raised at UFC Vegas 22 if he tries to strike with Holland. He’s at a disadvantage in power, technique, and speed.

However, Brunson has the wrestling advantage and the cardio advantage. For Brunson, it’s going to be about surviving the early onslaught. We’ve seen Brunson dropped and finished by elite strikers early. However, we’ve also seen him break guys as the fight goes on.

The first two minutes is going to tell me all I need to know. Either Kevin Holland is going to immediately start lighting Brunson up, or Brunson’s going to take him down. I’m extremely torn on this one.

The safe pick to me is Derek Brunson. You know what you’re going to get and he’s been in there with the UFC’s best. Holland is unproven against the elites of the division. However, call me a sucker for the hype, but I’m buying into it. I think Kevin Holland is going to find the shot he’s looking for in the second round.

Prediction: Kevin Holland by TKO – Round 2

New York Mets: What will the rotation look like after Carrasco’s injury?

New York Mets, David Peterson

New York Mets’ starter Carlos Carrasco tore his right hamstring on Thursday during running drills, after throwing live batting practice. He was trying to get his arm in shape after a minor bout of elbow soreness last week, but his leg muscles betrayed him.

Now, the Mets will be without one of their best starters for the next six to eight weeks, possibly longer if they opt to go the safe route and not rush his recovery. Hamstring injuries can be extremely tricky to come back from.

The Mets will now have to restructure their rotation plans. Of course, Jacob deGrom is the unquestioned ace, Marcus Stroman will now follow him, and new signing Taijuan Walker should also be a lock to be part of the five starters.

What will the Mets do with their rotation now?

The question now will be how the Mets fill their remaining two spots until Carrasco comes back from his ailment. David Peterson impressed as a rookie last season with a 3.44 ERA, albeit with a 4.52 FIP and a 5.11 xFIP. He is expected to take one of the available spots, most likely the fourth.

As for the fifth spot in the New York Mets’ rotation, manager Luis Rojas will have to choose from two newcomers: Jordan Yamamoto and Joey Lucchesi. The latter was acquired via trade from the San Diego Padres, while the former was signed this offseason as a free agent.

Both are having terrific springs, but Lucchesi has the most extensive MLB experience. He is currently pitching to an immaculate ERA in Grapefruit League action, firing five scoreless innings with no hits allowed, three walks, and seven strikeouts.

Yamamoto, on the other hand, has a shiny 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings. He has been terrific, conceding seven hits and a single earned run, with one base on balls and five punchouts.

The Mets are apparently in good position to absorb the blow of losing Carrasco for several weeks.

Mets: Everything you need to know about Carlos Carrasco’s latest injury and his expected recovery time

Just when it seemed like he had turned a corner with the elbow soreness he had reported about 10 days ago, New York Mets’ starter injured his right hamstring while doing running drills after throwing live batting practice on Thursday, and is now looking at several weeks on the shelf.

The exact diagnosis, after undergoing imaging, is a torn right hamstring and the Mets expect to have their starter back in about six to eight weeks. It is, indeed, a huge blow to the rotation depth, but one that the club will try to navigate through for the first couple of months of the campaign.

“It’s devastating, man,” teammate Marcus Stroman told MLB.com. “I see how hard Carrasco works, and, obviously, we need him in the rotation, I think, to be elite. I want him in the rotation badly. I know how special he is. I know how great he’s been for his career. So I’m hoping that … he proceeds through this and we can get him back fairly early.”

The Mets need to be careful with Carrasco

Carrasco, acquired by the Mets in January together with shortstop Francisco Lindor, had reported late to camp as he underwent additional imaging and tests related to his leukemia.

Last week, he had reported elbow soreness but said it wasn’t uncommon for him to feel that at this stage of the season, and vowed to be ready for the opening week. He was well on his way to do just that until he tore his hamstring.

A source told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that “these types of injuries can’t be rushed,” noting that the Mets will have to be careful with their pitcher to avoid any setbacks.

The Mets have the pitching depth to cope with Carrasco’s temporary absence, but it is, without a doubt, a considerable blow to the group, as he was expected to be a mid-rotation stalwart in Queens. He will, just not right now.