New York Giants: Daniel Jones with 7th highest ‘receiver fault’ incompletions

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

New York Giants fans definitely want to see more completions from Daniel Jones next season – but many of the ones last year weren’t his fault. At least, that’s if you put stock in the Pro Football Focus metrics which say that Daniel Jones had the 7th highest receiver fault incompletions of any quarterback in 2020.

Obviously, the Giants didn’t have as much receiving talent last year as many would have hoped. Receivers not getting enough separation was a constant complaint and Darius Slayton, the top performer from Jones’ rookie year, took a step back statistically. The Giants saw some production from players like Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, but rarely as much as Jones needed in the moment.

This season, things are expected to be different. Jones should have better conditions all around, except for maybe on the offensive line. The Giants have added a main weapon at wide receiver, another receiving tight end, and Saquon Barkley should once again be in the mix in the passing game – as well as making defenses fear the run more than they had to last season.

All of these things add up to more pressure on Jones. After all, with the Giants improving other areas of the offense, there should be less excuses if his play remains the same this season. With that being said, Jones may still find himself throwing under pressure often in 2021.

With these other areas improving this season, one of the main spots that’s still a question mark is the O-line. And if last year was any indication, that might have a big impact on what we get out of Jones.

One pitcher that could end up being the Yankees’ number two by the end of the season

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees have a lot of options in their rotation this year. The recent signing of Corey Kluber and the acquisition of Jameson Taillon have added needed depth for New York. Germán will be making his return after serving his suspension, and Severino is expected back sometime this summer. There are going to be a lot of options for New York come playoff time. However, no one knows for sure what it’s going to look like. All we do know is that as long as he’s healthy, Gerrit Cole will be the game one starter. But the number two is still very unknown.

So who could it be?

Anybody in the Yankees rotation is good enough to be the number two guy. However, one name that doesn’t come up often is Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery is the only lefty option in the Yankees’ rotation. He has a great mix of pitches and has even started a playoff game. In 2017, Montgomery was in the rookie of the year race and posted a 3.88 ERA. He had a fantastic rookie showing. However, the injuries he’s dealt with since have caused many people to tune him out. 

Jordan Montgomery is still a very impressive player. Many look at his 5.11 ERA that he posted last year and immediately didn’t consider him a top option. That’s not unfair considering the numbers that Kluber, Taillon, and Germán are capable of. Yet, that doesn’t mean we should disregard him. 

Montgomery had one of the best pitching performances this spring and has shown many signs of improvement throughout. For example, in his three starts this spring, you can tell he was more accurate among breaking pitches. StatCast shows that a good amount of breaking balls he threw last year ended up being hung over the plate, which caused major inflation in Montgomery’s ERA. A game against the Rays in September of last year was a prime example of that. He wasn’t able to complete an inning. His lack of control caused him to allow four runs on five hits in just two-thirds of an inning. The improvement in spring training is very encouraging. 

If Montgomery is able to establish control among those pitches, he will be a very good option for New York. As the only lefty in the rotation, his success would be huge for the Yankees. They haven’t had a good lefty presence in October since CC Sabathia retired. It would be awesome to see Montgomery fill that role.

New York Yankees Recap: Domingo German bombed in Yankee loss

New York Yankees, Domingo German

On this Easter Sunday, the New York Yankees had the rubber game of a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Game 1 was won by the Jays the Yankees took game Game 2. The Yankees started their best pitcher in spring, training Domingo German. The Blue Jays started T.J. Zeuch, who also pitched very well during the spring. After not pitching for an entire year, German showed no rust after his 2019 season when he went 18-4. The Yankees lost this one 3-1.

It was another beautiful day for baseball in the Bronx, sunny approaching 60 degrees during the game. Almost 11,000 fans were in the stands for the game.

German took to the mound shortly after 1:05 pm and faced Marcus Semien. Semien flew out to Hicks. Biggio also flew out to Hicks. Bichette doubled off a ball that bounced off the right-field wall. Hernandez struck out to end the half. Zeuch faced LeMahieu at the bottom, and he flew out to center. Aaron Judge lined out, and Aaron Hicks ground out to second. No score.

German allowed a home run to Guerrero Jr. well into the stands in right-center.  Gurriel Jr. single over short. Gurriel Jr. advanced to second on a passed ball. Grichuk hit a homer, driving in two runs. Panik struck out. Kirk walked. Back to the top of the lineup, Semien singled, but Kirk was called out at second. Biggio flew out to Gardner to end the half, but the Jays went up 3 runs.

Starting at the bottom of the first, the Yankees had to climb out of a 3 run deficit. Gleyber Torres ground out to second. Jay Bruce singled to right. Gary Sanchez flew out to left. Clint Frazier struck out, leaving on one base. After two innings, Jays 3 Yankees 0.

At the top of the 3rd, Bo Bichette flew out to Hicks on the warning track. Hernandez flew out to Gardner. Geurrero Jr. singled on a grounder to Torres that Jay Bruce couldn’t catch at first. Gurriel Jr. flew out to center. At the bottom, Gio Urshela lined out to short. Brett Gardner singled past third. LeMahieu singled to right, moving Gardner to second. Two men on with one out. Judge ground into a double play. Jays 3 Yankees 0.

Michael King replaced German at the fourth; he allowed a walk to Grichuk followed by a single to Panik for two on with no outs. Kirk flew out to Frazier; he fired in holding the runners. Semien flew out to Frazier. Baggio reached on catcher interference to load the bases. Bichette ground out to first, leaving the bases loaded. At the bottom, Hicks popped out to right. Torres flew out two the warning track in center. Bruce walked with two outs. Sanchez ground out to end the Yankees’ fourth scoreless inning.

Guerrero Jr. struck out, Gurriel Jr. ground out, and Grichuk ground out for the Yankees’ first fast inning. At the bottom, Frazier got a hustled double as the ball fell in shallow right field. Urshela flew out, but Frazier made it to third. Gardner out, but Frazier scored to get the Yankees on the board. LeMahieu walked. Judge flew out to right, but the Yankees got a manufactured run by Frazier. Jays 3 Yankees 1.

Michael King went 1-2-3 at the top of the sixth, putting down Grichuk, Panik, and Kirk on just four pitches. At the bottom of the inning, Hicks ground out second. Torres doubled off the base of the left-field wall.  That hit knocked reliever Thornton out of the game in favor of Borucki. Bruce ground out, but Torres went to third. Sanchez popped out, failing to bring Torres home. Jays 3 Yankees 1.

Semien against King flew out to Gardner. Baggio ground out to short. Bichette also ground out to short. King had pitched four shutout innings. Phelps was on the mound in the bottom facing Frazier, who popped out to first. Urshela struck out. Gardner struck out for a fast inning for both pitchers.

At the top of the eighth, King again returned to the mound struck out Hernandez on three pitches. Guerrero Jr. ground out to second. Gurriel Jr. struck out. King retired 13 Jays in a row. LeMahieu led off the bottom and grounded to short. Judge ground to third. Hick struck out. Jays 3 Yankees 1.

King came back out in the ninth to save the Yankee bullpen for the Baltimore series. Grichuk struck out. Panik ground out. Kirk popped to LeMahieu. King retired 16 Jays in the row; it was the first time in 35 years that a Yankee reliever had pitched six scoreless innings according to Jack Curry. Bruce flew out to left. Gary Sanchez flew out, popped out, and ground out, struck out again, ending the game. Final score Jays 3 Yankees 1. The winning pitcher was Borucki, the loser German, and the save went to Merryweather.  The Yankee lost the rubber game; in both losses, the Yankee hitters just didn’t hit.

Yankees: Good news and bad news in win over Blue Jays

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

The New York Yankees took on the Toronto Blue Jays in game two of a three-game series to open the 2021 regular season on Saturday. After losing Opening Day 3-2 in extra innings, the Yankees bounced back nicely, securing a 5-3 victory with new starting pitcher Corey Kluber on the mound.

While the Yankees offense still needs a bit more time to get in the groove, they showed a bit more liveliness against Toronto starter Ross Stripling. In just 3.1 innings, they posted seven hits and three runs off Stripling, getting him up to 77 pitches before they replaced him with Tyler Chatwood.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

The good news comes in many different ways for the Yankees, as Kluber lasted 4.0 innings and allowed five hits and one earned run. He struck out five batters in the process and walked three, managing to get himself out of trouble on a few occasions.

Unfortunately, there were a few negatives in his game, including the walks and the one home run he did give up, but overall it was a fantastic performance for him after not pitching for more than a year due to injuries. This is a positive sign for the Yankees moving forward that they can rely on him regularly, and he should improve as the season progresses.

Offensively, DJ LeMahieu recorded two hits, and Aaron Judge did the same, bouncing back after problematic Opening Day performances. Even Jay Bruce got into the action, recording two RBIs on a single to centerfield in the sixth inning to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead. Overall, the offense was adequate, collecting 11 hits and five runs, and they didn’t solely rely on the long ball, making solid contact.

Gary Sanchez, on the other hand, hit his second home run in as many days, now sitting at .429 on the season with a 1.286 slugging percentage. While his only hit on Saturday was a homer, we can’t complain.

There wasn’t much negative news to go around, aside from Aaron Hicks striking out three times again, but he did record a hit and an RBI in the fourth inning.

As for the Yankees pitching, the only negative to extract was from Lucas Luetge, who allowed a run in his 1.0 innings of work. This shouldn’t be alarming, considering Lucas hasn’t pitched in the MLB since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners. There’s no doubt he was experiencing some jitters, so we can give him a break for this one, but overall it was an impressive performance from the Yankees despite a low score.

Knicks’ Julius Randle, Reggie Bullock fire back at Nets’ ‘big 3’ challenge

new york knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks are scheduled to take on the Brooklyn nets on Monday evening, but the challenge doesn’t scare them. Brooklyn currently sits at 34–15, good for second place in the Atlantic standings, tied with the Philadelphia 76ers.

With Kevin Durant expected to make a return this week, Brooklyn could feature James Harden, Durant, and Kyrie Irving, which would pose a significant threat to a Knicks team that is coming off a few unfortunate losses to below-average teams.

However, New York did walk away with a victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, finishing 125-81. In the contest, Julius Randle scored 29 points, and Reggie Bullock finished with 22, stating after the game that they don’t fear Brooklyn and their star-caliber players.

In fact, when asked about Brooklyn’s big 3 and if they will be fazed by them, Reggie Bullock responded with a perfect quote, “we got a big 5.”

Randle quickly chimed in, saying, “we got a big 15.” It is nice to see the confidence from the stars against Detroit, who combined for 53 points and 13 total rebounds. Bullock is one of the Knicks’ only sharpshooters, hitting 6-of-10 from behind the arc on Saturday. When he’s playing at the top of his game and hitting shots, the Knicks’ offense is vastly improved basketball.

“We’re not really concerned about their Big three. We know what type of basketball we’ll be able to come into the game and play. We’ll focus on our team. The game plan that coach draws up. Other than that, that’s all we’re focued on. The Knicks.”

Ultimately, New York does host the best defense in basketball, but stopping Brooklyn will be extremely difficult considering they have won four straight and scored no fewer than 111 points.

Luckily for the Knicks, they will be coming off a game on Sunday night, so they might be a bit fatigued. The team doesn’t lose very often, especially with three players averaging over 25 points per game. The Knicks can simply play their game, hoping for a few big defensive stops, but they must hit shots late in games, which is something they have failed to do in recent days.

UFC booking Belal Muhammad – Demian Maia

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a welterweight matchup for their June PPV featuring two top fifteen welterweights. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the promotion was finalizing a matchup between Belal Muhammad (18-3, 1 NC) and Demian Maia (28-10).

The matchup will take place on June 12th at UFC 263. For Belal Muhammad, this fight is going to be his chance to get back on track after the freak accident that happened in his last fight.

Muhammad had the opportunity of his career when he stepped in at UFC Vegas 21 to take on Leon Edwards. Edwards was the third ranked contender in the division. If Muhammad could have won, he would have vaulted into title contention.

However, in the second round, Muhammad was poked in the eye and couldn’t continue. The fight was ruled a No Contest. Immediately, Muhammad campaigned for a rematch, but the UFC booked Edwards against Nate Diaz. 

Prior to the No Contest, Muhammad had gone 8-2 in his previous ten fights. He wanted a top ten opponent and the UFC is rewarding him for his efforts and making it up to him after what happened a few weeks ago.

Last UFC fight for Maia?

Standing across from Muhammad is going to be Demian Maia. Maia is currently ranked eighth in the UFC’s welterweight rankings. This might be the final time that we see him compete in the octagon.

Maia last fought back in March of last year against Gilbert Burns. Had Maia won that fight, he could’ve been back in title contention. However, Burns knocked him out in the first round.

That loss snapped a three fight win streak for Maia. Maia has had an incredible career in the UFC, but he turns 44 this year and he’s said to have been seriously contemplating retirement.

The Brazilian legend has never become a UFC champion, but he’s challenged for the title at both 185 pounds and 170 pounds. Since mid-2014, Maia is 10-4 in the welterweight division. The four losses came against Burns, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, and Tyron Woodley.

In his welterweight run, Maia holds wins over Jorge Masvidal, Carlos Condit, Neil Magny, and more. This matchup at UFC 263 is a huge opportunity for Muhammad to rise up the ranks, but it’s also an opportunity for Maia to go out on top.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Lucas Luetge, the long road back (video)

Yesterday, the New York Yankees met up with the Toronto Blue Jays for game 2 of the 2021 baseball season. It was a great day for the Yankees; they won the game 5-3. But for one guy on the team, the day was a dream come true. For the first time in almost six years, Lucas Luetge made it back onto a major league mound. Before yesterday, the last time Luetge was in a major league game was in 2015.

On March 24th, Luetge turned 34 years old, having been born in 1987. He was born in Brenham, Texas, a small town in Texas where half the population comprises college students attending Blinn College. [1] He attended Bellville High School and played baseball for the Owls while attending Rice University.

The Milwaukee Brewers drafted Luetge in the 2008 draft. In December of 2011, he was selected by the Seattle Mariner in Rule 5 Draft. On June 8, 2012, he was one of six pitchers in a not-hit game against the Dodgers. In 2015 he signed a minor league contract with the Angels. In 2016 he again signed a minor league contract, this time with the Cinncinati Reds. The following year he signed with the Baltimore Orioles. His biggest break came in 2019 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched in 55 games with a record of 9-3 with a 2.38 ERA. In December of 2020, he signed a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees.

New York Yankees assistant GM Mike Fishman pursued Lucas Luetge each of the past two years and signed him to a minor league deal this offseason; he said, “A lot of people are talking about him [in camp]. He is opening eyes with how he is performing — and the quality of the stuff, too. He has swing-and-miss pitches.” Luetge has been trying to get from the minors to the majors for the last six years. He did it for just one game back in 2015. He pitched 2 1/2 innings of shutout ball. But his return to the majors has been elusive.

One of the problems holding Luetge back has been his inability to get righties out. However, now late in his career, he is doing just that. 8 of his 13 strikeouts have been against right-hand hitters. Manager Aaron Boone has been gushing over Luetge. When talking about the Luetge slider, he had this to say:

Boone about Luetge’s slider to Sports Illustrated’s Max Goodman, saying “It’s a really good breaking ball, it’s a swing-and-miss breaking ball. He’s got all the spin numbers that take you back a little bit. Even though he’s not overpowering with the fastball, the fastball really plays as well.”

As CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa reports, Boone’s claims ring true through the spring training pitch data. Luetge has radically boosted the spin rate on each of his three offerings to well past the MLB average, especially his slider, giving them a late-life that has left anyone lucky enough to watch him toss in person awestruck.

He came to the Yankees spring training as a non-roster invitee. During the spring, he turned heads, striking out 18 over just 10.1 innings. Even so, it still didn’t appear that he would make the 26 man roster.  As fate would have it, he got his big break when Justin Wilson was injured, and Luetge was added to the roster. Yesterday he got into his first game for the game; he gave up one run in one inning of work, striking out one Blue Jay. Manager Aaron Boone had this to say about Luetge:

“He came into camp and had expectations around him, but there was some really good competition,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “We could have gone a lot of different ways going into that spot. It’s hard to deny what Lucas has done from the start of camp. He pushed his way onto the roster and I’m excited to see what he can do for us.”

Please make no mistake about it; Luetge will have to work his tail off with good results to stay on the team once Justin Wilson is ready to return. But for the short term, nobody is as happy as he to be on the major league mound again.

New York Giants could land offensive line gem in mid-rounds

new york giants, quinn meinerz

There is no question the New York Giants desperately need more offensive line support, whether it comes in the first or second round. Luckily, Big Blue has a bit of flexibility in the 2021 NFL draft after securing WR1 Kenny Golladay and a CB2 in Adoree Jackson. Acquiring a star receiver and above-average corner should help mask some of the Giants’ bigger issues, allowing them to go best player available in the draft.

Whether that means selecting Northwestern OL Rashawn Slater or star Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, the Giants simply can’t go wrong unless they take a shot at a player with a problematic injury history or fundamental problems, but I can’t imagine head coach Joe Judge putting the 11th overall pick to waste.

Luckily, even if the Giants pass on Slater in the first round, there are a bevy of options in a second to consider. In fact, the mid-rounds have a few gems, including one division three lineman named Quinn Meinerz.

Meinerz shot up draft boards during the Senior Bowl, as dominating D3 athletes doesn’t exactly define success at the NFL level. However, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater standout dominated the Senior Bowl, particularly on the offensive line. At 6’3” and 320 pounds, Quinn has solid size and even trains with Slater, displaying keen strength and agility.

As a small school blocker, he has the potential to be a starting-caliber player at the NFL level at either center or guard, and we know the Giants prefer to have dynamic linemen who can shift positions if need be. With active hands and a nasty attitude, he’s able to adjust to blitzers and pick up pass rushers efficiently. Most project him as a center, given his agility and ability to find work in the trenches, but he fits a power-gap scheme, which is exactly what the Giants utilize.

The New York Giants need a replacement for Kevin with upside:

After parting ways with veteran guard Kevin Zeitler and saving $12 million in cap space, the Giants will need to draft Ian OL this year, as having weapons like Kenny Golladay and Saquon Barkley won’t matter if Daniel Jones has no time in the pocket. Ridding themselves of their best lineman in Zeitler undoubtedly creates a problem, so we can fully expect them to address the position in the draft with a youth player on a rookie deal.

While Quinn might be a bit of an optimistic pick in the second round, he could be a stellar third-round selection, based on his size and upside. I don’t believe he’ll start immediately, but he can compete for the right guard position and will likely end up finding himself playing significant reps as the season progresses.

New York Yankees: Breaking down Corey Kluber’s first start of 2021

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber made his first start for the New York Yankees on Saturday, helping the team to victory despite just a so-so outing. Although he wasn’t given the win, Kluber’s solid four innings put the team in a position to win their first game of the new campaign.

Kluber allowed five hits in his start, however, most of them weren’t hit very hard. The first two batters of the game reached on an infield single and a jam shot to left, putting Kluber in an early pickle. From there, he successfully worked out of trouble to end his first Yankee inning with a zero on the scoreboard.

Inning No. 2 was relatively clean for Kluber, although he hit Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with a pitch that began his control issues. He’d walk back-to-back batters in the third inning and at one point, had thrown 10 of 12 pitches outside the strike zone. A wild pitch, a stolen base, and a throwing error allowed a run to score despite not allowing any hits in the inning.

Kluber once again worked into and out of trouble in the fourth inning, loading the bases with two outs after a pair of hits and a walk. He miraculously escaped unscaved, and entered the fifth inning at 70 pitches and on a short leash. He lasted just four pitches into the fifth, as a hung sinker to Marcus Semien found the left field seats. Kluber left with the lead, but Jonathan Loaisiga took the win due to Kluber not making it five innings.

We saw a lot of good things out of Kluber on Saturday, including five strikeouts. However, his control needs some work. Kluber’s lack of control gave the Blue Jays several scoring opportunities on Saturday, but fortunately for the Yankees, they were unable to take advantage of them. His FIP for the game was a 7.33, well above leave average of around 4.00.

Also, as expected, Kluber’s fastball topped off around 90 mph. Just three years ago, Kluber could hit up to 96 mph on the radar gun, but has now lost nearly 5 mph due to general regression and extended time on the IL. Some of his pitching issues could be the result of adjusting to a slower fastball, as 5 mph makes a significant difference of how batters see the ball. Pitchers must learn how to adapt to slower velocity with increased movement on pitches, something Kluber is currently dealing with.

All in all, Kluber’s first start for the Yankees was encouraging. If he can get the control issues figured out, Kluber should succeed in New York.

 

SEE: Knicks’ Norvel Pelle blocks two shots with broken finger

Norvelle Pelle, new york knicks, immanuel quickley

The New York Knicks took on the Detroit Pistons on Saturday evening, completely dominating them in a stellar victory. In the first quarter, the Knicks scored 41 points, with Julius Randle scoring 20, more than the entire Detroit team managed, settling with just 15 points. The Knicks ultimately won 125–81, as Detroit struggled to get anything going, falling to 14-35.

In the contest, the Knicks went deep into their depth pieces to give them some playing time as they ran the score up, and one player who featured was new big-man Norvel Pelle, who was on the floor for just three minutes. During the short time on the court, Pelle blocked two shots and recorded three rebounds, suffering a nasty broken finger injury in the process.

Just two minutes into his appearance Pelle slammed his hand against the rim as he was hacked by a defender, creating a fracture that sent his finger bending in a different direction. Shortly after, he showed off his toughness and proceeded to make consecutive blocks on the following defensive positions.

Had to coach Tom Thibodeau was blown away at his aggression and toughness.

“Pretty remarkable because the guy hadn’t gone through any practices. He was ready to go,” Thibodeau said. “It looked ugly but you appreciated that he wanted to stay in and that’s why we brought him in — the rim protection. And so it said a lot about him. Obviously pleased with the way he played in that short stint there.”

With center Mitchell Robinson expected to miss a lengthy amount of time due to a fractured right foot, Pelle will undoubtedly be earning more minutes in the near future. Unless his finger is severely damaged and requires time off, we should expect to see him playing more minutes on the floor. Recently, New York has rolled with Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel as their primary big men, and they’ve gotten the job done despite offering minimal offensive production.