Mets’ Carlos Carrasco is stretched out to five innings and may only need one additional rehab start

In a mildly surprising turn of events, all NL East teams have a sub-.500 record entering Friday. The New York Mets are currently in third place with a 9-10 mark and a .474 winning percentage. Most of the problems have been associated with the offense, or lack thereof.

The pitching rotation hasn’t been a problem so far. The Mets, thankfully, have quite possibly the best pitcher in the planet in Jacob deGrom, and the other components have also been good: Marcus Stroman has a 2.22 ERA, Taijuan Walker is at 2.14, while David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi have been competent even if the numbers don’t fully agree.

Yet, the Mets gave up important assets to acquire Carlos Carrasco, together with Francisco Lindor, in January. The injured starter has been rehabbing a hamstring tear for a few weeks now, but could be on the verge of returning if we judge his last few steps.

The Mets are on the verge of getting Carrasco back

Mets’ MLB beat writer Anthony DiComo recently reported that Carrasco pitched five innings during a rehab game on Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He suffered his torn right hamstring in the middle of March and was given a 6-8 week timetable.

According to SNY, Carrasco could possibly be activated from the injured list after one more rehab start. That would be a dream scenario for the Mets, which would benefit from his steady veteran right arm.

Mets manager Luis Rojas had said on April 15, after Carrasco stretched out to four innings, that he was still considered “week-to-week.” And while his return isn’t imminent, it could happen in the first half of May.

Carrasco can be lined up in the same turn as Lucchesi, considered the Mets’ fifth starter, and could potentially take his spot on May 9 if everything goes well, although it’s just speculation at this point.

The New York Yankees live and die by the home run

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Our grandparents grew accustomed to a different type of baseball: ‘hit it where they ain’t’, they said. Home runs weren’t as important back then as they are today. Our parents, when looking at statistics, often prioritized batting average, home runs, and RBI. And now, the game has evolved into more of a three true outcome approach, and the New York Yankees, as an organization, love their walks and homers as much as anyone else.

To say that home runs have been the key for the 2021 Yankees’ season is an understatement, because that’s probably true for every team. But it is a reality: according to data from the always reliable Bryan Hoch, the Yankees’ 32 home runs are tied for the lead in the American League, something that seemed far-fetched when the offense was struggling to get anything going and the club had a five-game losing streak.

Many of those long balls, however, were hit during the Yankees’ most recent road trip against Cleveland and Baltimore. They took five of those games and showed a version that resembles the team nickname, the Bronx Bombers.

The Yankees’ sluggers are coming around

As expected, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge lead the Yankees in home runs, with six and five, respectively. Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka have four each, while Aaron Hicks and Rougned Odor have three apiece, and Gary Sanchez and Mike Ford are the other Yankees with more than one.

Surprisingly, Gleyber Torres hasn’t left the yard yet, but he is back making consistent hard contact and given his track record, they will come sooner than later. He hit .313 in the road trip.

So why do we say the Yankees live and die by the homer? When they have at least one dinger, they have an 11-7 mark, and when they fail to hit one, their record is 0-7.

For the New York Yankees, it is simple: home runs are good, and when they come together with walks, as has been the case in the last few years, the offense will be just fine.

Mets Game Preview: (4/30/21) @ Philadelphia Phillies (12-13)

Simeon Woods-Richardson

After taking a day off, the New York Mets take a trip to Philadelphia to face the Phillies in a three-game weekend series. Both teams enter one game under the .500 mark, but both sit in a three-way tie for first place in the NL East. The first pitch from Citizens Bank Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET as both teams try to close out April on a high note.

If there were ever a place for the Mets to revive their offense, the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park is the perfect place. The Mets have only scored more than four runs in just three games this season and are dead last in MLB in runs scored. They hit a new low in the two-game series against the Boston Red Sox with just nine hits and one run. Their only bright spot has been their pitching staff with a 3.05 ERA, the fourth-lowest in baseball. If the bats ever wake up, they will immediately become a very dangerous team.

The Phillies have cooled off after their hot start to the season and come off a split in a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Their bullpen has regressed to the 2020 form with their ERA at 4.62 and has allowed 14 home runs. They also lead MLB in the most walk-off losses. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto are the offensive leaders, but there has been little help elsewhere. Rhys Hoskins is 13-for-65 (.200) over the last 16 games, but six of those hits have been homers. Jean Segura is also in the IL with a Quad injury.

Pitching Matchup

Marcus Stroman looks to rebound from his first tough outing of the young season. He only lasted four innings against the Washington Nationals, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits which were all singles. In 12 innings against the Phillies this season, Stroman has allowed just one run and held them to a .171 batting average.

Chase Anderson is also hoping to bounce back from a rough start against the Colorado Rockies. In just 3.2 innings, he allowed six runs on the same amount of hits and inflated his ERA to 6.48. Anderson has very similar lines in his two prior starts against the Mets this year, allowing four runs in nine innings. His first start against the Mets was his longest so far, but he only pitched five innings.

Matchups To Lookout For

Marcus Stroman vs. Matt Joyce: 5-for-15 (.333), Double, Home Run, 5 Walks, 3 Strikeouts

Marcus Stroman vs. J.T. Realmuto: 5-for-10 (.500), Walk, Strikeout

Chase Anderson vs. Dominic Smith: 2-for-5 (.400), 2 Home Runs, Walk, 2 Strikeouts

Chase Anderson vs. Michael Conforto: 3-for-17 (.176), 3 Home Runs, 2 Walks, 4 Strikeouts

Yankees’ Robinson Chirinos is back to full health after wrist fracture; could he force his way into the team’s plans?

The New York Yankees plan was to enter the season with Gary Sanchez as the starting catcher and Kyle Higashioka fighting for the backup position with veteran backstop Robinson Chirinos. But as the first month winds down, the situation right now is completely different to what the team had drawn.

Chirinos got injured in spring training, and Higashioka has earned, according to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone, more playing time after an excellent showing in the early going, both offensively and defensively.

Higgy is, in addition to providing his customary good defense to the Yankees, hitting .276/.364/.759 with four home runs and a 212 wRC+. Sanchez, meanwhile, is at .190/.329/.310 wit a couple of dingers and a 91 wRC+.

However, Chirinos may re-appear in the picture. According to Yankees manager Aaron Boone (link to NJ Advance Media article here), the veteran “is definitely a guy that obviously gives us really quality depth right now.”

NJ Advance Media speculates that the Yankees may decide to shop Sanchez and go with Higashioka and Chirinos in their depth chart.

Chirinos is 100% recovered from his broken wrist, an injury he suffered in spring training. It took him the better part of the last six weeks, but he is already active and playing in the Yankees’ alternate training site.

The article clarifies that it is not a given that the Yankee shop Sanchez, but it is a possibility given he has been relegated to a timeshare with Higashioka and hasn’t been successful since 2019.

The Yankees like Chirinos

Boone certainly likes Chirinos. “He was a great teammate in spring training,” the skipper said this week. “I thought he really integrated himself into our room and conversations. The camaraderie that he developed with our catchers and with our pitchers I thought was really good.

“We know he’s a guy with obviously all kinds of experience that’s been a really good catcher in this league for a long time.”

The 36-year-old Chirinos has it .231 over his nine-year MLB tenure.

The Yankees are trending up after successful road trip: ‘We are moving in the right direction’

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Despite a disheartening loss to the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Tursday’s series finale, in which the home team took advantage of the extra-inning rule that puts a runner on second base, the New York Yankees look like a different team than the one who recently had a five-game losing streak.

The Yankees went 5-3 on their eight-game trip, starting pitchers that began the year being battered are now finding their stride (most notably Corey Kluber and Domingo German), the relief corps have performed admirably, and the offense, slowly but surely, is heating up.

“Obviously, when you go out on a road trip and have a winning record like that, certainly that’s good,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told Betelhem Ashame of MLB.com. “But we also know that there’s a game or two that — one thing here, one thing there — all of a sudden, it’s a special trip. So I feel like we’re moving in the right direction. The offense is collectively having better at-bats, even though we got shut down a little bit today. And we continue to pitch really well.”

Before Thursday game against the O’s, the Yankees had the best collective ERA in the American League, with a 3.24 mark. The hurlers covered 70 2/3 frames during the road trip, with a sparkling 2.67 ERA and 70 strikeouts. Simply put, the pitching has been awesome.

The Yankees are looking better and better with each passing day

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery didn’t quite have his best swing-and-miss stuff, but he did cover five innings while allowing just a couple of runs on Thursday.

“Frankly, [in a] long season where you gotta lean on starters during everyday stretches, you can’t just run to the best matchup in the bullpen in the middle of the game every time,” Boone said. “I want these starters to be able to push themselves through some situations.”

Even dormant sluggers such as Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres are waking up for the Yankees. The former has been hitting homers by bunches in the last few games, and while the latter hasn’t left the yard yet, he will, eventually, and posted a .313 batting average on the road trip.

The best is yet to come for the Yankees.

New York Yankees: Detroit Tigers series preview

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

Tonight at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees will face the Detroit Tigers for their first meeting of the new season, a three-game set. Entering the series, the Yankees are coming off a split of a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles and are 11-14 at the bottom of the AL East. The Tigers are coming off a series with the White Sox in which they won one of three and are 8-18 at the bottom of the AL Central.

The New Detroit Tigers manager is A.J. Hinch, the infamous manager of the 2017 Houston Astros. He is coming off a suspension for his part in the Astros cheating scandal that may have cost the New York Yankees an appearance in the World Series and cost Aaron Judge the Rookie of the Year Award that was awarded to Jose Altuve. No doubt he will not receive a polite welcome at the stadium tonight.

Tonight at 7:05 pm.

Tonight the Yankee’s ace Gerrit Cole will take the mound facing the Tigers’ Tarik Skubal, a lefty with a 0-3 record with an ERA of 5.21. Cole has a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.71. Cole is coming off his most impressive win of the season when he beat the Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber. He stuck out 11 Indians in seven innings of work. Skubal is coming off a 2 2/3 inning loss to the Royals. He has pitched only 19 innings combined in his five starts.

Saturday, May 1st, 1:05 pm:

The second game matinee of the series will feature Jameson Taillon on the mound for the Yankees and Spenser Turnbull for the Tigers. Taillon has stumbled a bit early this season, going 0-2 with an elevated ERA of 6.23 but with 21 strikeouts. He had one of the worst starts of his career when he faced the Tigers in 2018; he gave up 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings. Turnbull has a 1-1 record with an ERA of 3.27. His last start was against the Royals; he took the loss giving up 3 runs across six innings of work.

Sunday, May 2nd, 1:05 pm:

The finale of the 3 game set will be on Sunday, and we will see Corey Kluber on the mound at the Stadium for the Yankees. He will face the Tigers’ Jose Urena. Urena’s record is 1-3 with an ERA of 3.77, Kluber’s record is 1-2 with a 4.15 ERA. Kluber is coming off his best start of the season, a win against the Orioles when he gave up just one run going into the seventh inning. Urena is also coming off his first win of the season despite having 5 errors committed in the game. Urena has pitched well against the Yankees. He has a 2.16 ERA against the Yankees in two career starts.

The weather at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York, should not be a problem for any of the three games. Wind could be an issue tonight when winds could gust to 40 mph. Both weekend matinees should be sunny with temperatures in the mid-’70s.

 

Semyon Varlamov’s dominance of the Rangers adds to a recurring theme for the Islanders in recent years

Maybe we should have expected this. Maybe this is just how the Islanders have continued to have an edge in a rivalry that in reality has been one-sided for close to half-a-decade outside of last season. What is this in reference to? It’s Semyon Varlamov continuing his dominance of the Rangers.

The Islanders came into last night’s tilt against the Rangers needing a big time performance from everyone in the lineup, and they received it, shutting out (and I use that term literally) the Blueshirts 3-0 and moving within one win of a third consecutive playoff berth. The man who backstopped the victory, Varlamov, was once again perfect, turning away all 25 shots he faced for his league-leading and new career-high sixth shutout. Varlamov’s goose egg also marked his third against the Rangers this season, all at Madison Square Garden, making him the first goalie — not only in franchise history but NHL history — to put up three shutouts at MSG in a season, that according to Isles maestro statistician Eric Hornick.

“It’s always fun to play in front of Rangers and and Isles fans,” said Varlamov in the postgame. “There’s a lot of Islanders’ fans that come here and support us. Every time I play, I try to have fun.”

Well keeping on that quote, the 33-year-old has had buckets of fun when the Rangers have been the opposition this season. Varlamov after last night is 4-1-0 with a 0.81 GAA in five starts against that vaunted Blueshirts offense, with the only defeat coming on Coliseum ice earlier this month. He clearly owns the Rangers and he’s not the only Isles goalie to do so in recent seasons.

Before Varlamov made his way to Long Island two summers ago, the Isles were blessed with another netminder who was the Blueshirts’ kryptonite, Jaroslav Halak. In his four seasons with the Islanders, Halak went 11-3-0 in 14 starts against those guys from Seventh Avenue.  Most of the time too, those wins came against the Rangers’ all-world goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. Halak loved to play and beat the Rangers, which has continued with Varlamov and will also hopefully translate to rookie Ilya Sorokin.

Sorokin has only faced the Rangers twice this year but will more than likely see a heavy dose of them over the next several years.

Back to Varlamov though. He was already having a stellar season without all the excellent showings against the Rangers. His play took a small step back from being Vezina-worthy early on, but even so, Varlamov has left no doubt he is clearly the Islanders’ number-one in net going into the postseason.

The Islanders clinched the season series against the Rangers again for the fifth time in the last seven seasons with last night’s win. A lot of it can be credited to Varlamov and his dominant play. That dynamic shouldn’t be all that surprising.

He’s continued the trend of Islander goalies having their way with the Blueshirts.

If Varlamov’s stats against the Rangers aren’t corky enough, try the one that came out about Leo Komarov last night. In the three years Komarov has been an Islander, the team is undefeated when he scores in the game.

Komarov notched the game-winner early on in the first period off a great cross-ice feed from Jordan Eberle. His celly too was fantastic.

No one could have used a goal the way Oliver Wahlstrom did last night. His wicked snipe on the power play was his first since March 25th in Boston.

Wahlstrom’s confidence looked like it had returned after a tough stretch that saw him called out for his play and led to a few healthy scratches.

UFC Vegas 25 Preview: Dominick Reyes – Jiri Prochazka

Dominick Reyes

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC Vegas 25, we will see a light heavyweight showdown between top five contenders. Former two-time title challenger Dominick Reyes (12-2) will taking on Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1).

For Reyes, he will be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak. Reyes made his UFC debut back in 2017 and immediately won five fights in a row and he did it against impressive competition. Some of the names included: Chris Weidman, Volkan Oezdemir, OSP, and Jared Cannonier.

Those wins earned Reyes a shot at Jon Jones at UFC 247. The fight was razor close with many believing that Reyes beat the UFC‘s all time great. However, the judges gave the fight to Jon Jones.

After Jones vacated the light heavyweight title, Reyes got another shot at UFC 253 against Jan Blachowicz. This time, Reyes came up short, but he was finished leaving no doubts. Reyes has gone from feeling like the uncrowned champion to starting down the barrel at a three-fight losing streak.

The man who can make that losing streak a reality is Jiri Prochazka. Prochazka made his UFC debut back in July of 2020 against Volkan Oezdemir. He knocked Oezdemir out cold in the second round which was his eleventh straight win.

Prochazka is a very unique fighter with incredibly odd but effective standup. Out of his 27 career wins, 24 have come via knockout. He could be the next big thing in the UFC and he plans on showing that tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 25 Prediction

I’m very intrigued by this main event at UFC Vegas 25. While incredibly unorthodox, Jiri Prochazka’s standup can give Dominick Reyes a lot of issues tomorrow. Prochazka has very good feints, unique movement, and a ton of power.

It will be on Reyes tomorrow to try and pick up on patterns in order to get his shots off. When Reyes was on the rise, we saw him use good straight lefts and a lot of kicks. He’s going to need to do that tomorrow night.

Reyes needs to keep things clean and down the middle. I’d like to see him utilize some body kicks and really look to land straight lefts. However, they won’t be easy to land with someone who moves like Prochazka.

I still firmly believe Dominick Reyes is one of the best light heavyweights in the world. However, I really don’t like this matchup for him. Prochazka is very long and he strikes from such odd angles. I think Reyes is going to be much more hittable than Prochazka tomorrow night.

In making a prediction, i think Prochazka is going to get the win at UFC Vegas 25. If Reyes wins, it’s going to be by staying patient and staying straight with the shots. However, I think the head movement and  wild yet effective striking of Prochazka wins out in a big way tomorrow night.

Prediction: Jiri Prochazka by TKO – Round 3

New York Rangers Recall Barron and Reunanen from Hartford

Thursday night’s shutout loss to the Islanders has left the New York Rangers a very small chance to make the playoffs. Given that, it appears that the Blueshirts are going to start taking a look at some of their younger talent. Today, the New York Rangers announced that they had recalled forward Morgan Barron and defenseman Tarmo Reunanen from the Hartford Wolf Pack.

In the sixth round, the New York Rangers selected Barron, 174th overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, while Reunanen was taken in the fourth round, 98th overall, of the 2016 Draft.

The 22-year-old Barron has skated in 21 games with the Wolf Pack this season. He registered 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points, along with a plus-eight rating and 20 penalty minutes. He has recorded a point in 17 of Hartford’s 21 games in 2020-21, including a goal in nine of those contests. Barron is tied for third among AHL rookies in goals and is tied for sixth among AHL rookies in points this season. In addition, he is tied for second in the AHL in power-play goals (six) in 2020-21. Barron leads Hartford in goals, points, shots on goal, and plus/minus rating this season.

Barron played three seasons at Cornell University before beginning his professional career this season. Barron was named a First Team All-American and was one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award in 2019-20. He recorded 32 points and a plus-17 rating in 29 games as a junior.

Reunanen skated in one game with the Rangers this season. He registered his first NHL assist/point while making his NHL debut with the Blueshirts on Mar. 15 vs. Philadelphia.

The 23-year-old defenseman has skated in 21 AHL games with Hartford this season. He has registered four goals and 13 assists for 17 points. He leads the Wolf Pack in assists and is tied for second on the team in points in 2020-21. His 17 points are also the most among Hartford defensemen. Reunanen is tied for third among AHL defensemen in points and is tied for fifth among AHL defensemen in assists this season. He has tallied a point in eight of the last 11 games, and he has recorded 12 points over the span.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres finally heating up after slow start

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

After a dismal start to the season, New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres is finally trending in the right direction. Torres’s average was just .182 after the Yankees’ April 20th win over the Atlanta Braves, but now, he’s raised it to over .230.

Over the last nine games, Torres has hit .306 with three RBIs, three walks, and just four strikeouts. He has three extra-base hits in that span, including a two-strike, two-out double in the ninth inning on Thursday against the Orioles to tie the game. Although the team eventually lost in extra innings, Torres’s hit was likely the most clutch hit of the young season and a huge confidence boost for the fourth-year player.

Torres has also shown improvement on defense as he’s raised his dWAR up to 0.5 with three defensive runs saved through 24 games at shortstop. Earlier in the season, Torres had negative numbers in both categories, so this is a welcome sign that he can succeed at shortstop down the road.

The only cause of concern that remains with Torres right now is his lack of power numbers. His OPS just surpassed the .600 mark against the Orioles, and he still has a lot of work to raise it to near his career average of .816. Torres still hasn’t hit a home run this season, and this comes after a 2020 campaign with just three home runs. However, Torres is slugging more doubles of late, so it seems that some home runs could be coming soon. The Yankees return home for nine games beginning tonight against the Detroit Tigers, so Yankee Stadium would be a great place to start putting the ball over the wall.

It’s great to see that Gleyber Torres is headed back in the right direction. Unfortunately, players like Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier are still struggling, but maybe Torres’s improved play can spark a fire for some of the other guys.