New York Yankees: Lucas Luetge has turned into a valuable bullpen piece

lucas luetge, yankees

After a surprisingly strong Spring Training, the New York Yankees signed 34-year-old Lucas Luetge to the 40-man roster with a spot on the Opening Day squad. Luetge hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2015 with the Seattle Mariners and had spent time bouncing between different organizations up until then.

The Yankees didn’t really have any expectations for Luetge when the season began, but he’s quickly forced the team to have some. In 13 appearances, Luetge has pitched phenomenally, going 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA. With his exit velocity and hard-hit rate each in the 90th percentile, Luetge has an xERA of 2.66 with an XBA of .222.

What makes Luetge unique from most other Yankee relievers is that he doesn’t rely on his velocity to get outs. His fastball tops off at around 90 mph, so he relies on his stuff to retire batters. Luetge is in the 94th percentile of chase rate, the 97th percentile of fastball spin, and the 80th percentile of curveball spin.

After giving up runs in his first five appearances, Luetge has now gone eight straight appearances without surrendering a run. He’s given up just four hits since April 20 and has struck out seven in that span. Luetge has elevated into a high-leverage role with both Darren O’Day and Zack Britton on the IL, and so far, he’s thrived in it. Ever since he got out some of his MLB return jitters, Luetge has been one of the most effective relievers in Major League Baseball.

Although it’s a small sample size, Lucas Luetge is showing that he may be Brian Cashman’s next “diamond in the rough”. He’s performed well in pinstripes thus far, and the Yankees will continue to turn to him as the heart of the season approaches.

Knicks zero in on top 6 finish after ending 11-year spell in L.A.

With the New York Knicks’ outright playoff hopes falling apart after another awful start, Derrick Rose came to the rescue.

The Knicks came out flat again, but Rose, the former MVP turned super-sub, came in to inject life on a lethargic offense. 

Then Julius Randle woke up just in time to bring them home.

The Knicks hammered out a massive 106-100 win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon to remain at fourth seed in the East with four games left.

Rose scattered 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting and issued seven assists in the opening half as the Knicks recovered from a 10-0 Clippers opening run.

Randle came through with three clutch baskets down the stretch that killed any Clippers’ hopes of a comeback.

It was the Knicks’ first win in Los Angeles against the Clippers since 2010. Most importantly, it pushed the Knicks’ record to 38-30, avoiding a complicated three-way tie with the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat, both with 37-31 record.

The Knicks need only one more win and another Boston Celtics’ loss to secure at least a top-six finish for an outright playoff spot. The Celtics (35-33), the current seventh seed, are now three games behind after the Heat beat them earlier. 

“That would be big, but at the same time Thibs always talks about going through the finish line,” Rose said. “We know we’re not finished with what we’re doing.”

New York drew plenty of inspiring performances from Rose, Reggie Bullock, and RJ Barrett to mitigate the continued absence of Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley and the early offensive struggles of Randle.

Thibodeau praised Randle for staying the course, saying he had a big night all-around, Rose’s leadership, and the unsung heroes — Bullock, Barrett, Taj Gibson, and the rest of the team.

“The big thing is perseverance — the way he rebounded the ball, the hustle plays that he made. He played great without shooting the ball great. And then at the end of the game, he made several big plays for us,” Thibodeau said of Randle’s performance.

“When your leader steps up like that, with the way Derrick played in the first half, Reggie, RJ, and Taj (Gibson), that was huge. There was a number of guys — Elfrid’s ball pressure at the start of the second half — all those things matter.”

Bullock scored a season-high 24 points with five triples against the team that originally drafted him. His three-pointer with 2:10 left in the third quarter capped a 10-2 Knicks’ run for a 79-69 spread, their largest lead in the game.

Rose and Barrett hit timely threes in the fourth quarter every time the Clippers crept in. Then Barrett had a huge block on Paul George with 1:23 remaining in the game that preserved a 98-93 lead for the Knicks. Barrett also had a hand on holding Kawhi Leonard to under 35 percent shooting.

Leonard, the Clippers’ main man, finished with a game-high 29 points but bled for every point on 26 shots.

Randle, who struggled for only eight points until the final three minutes, drilled three consecutive jumpers to bail the Knicks out of trouble. His last shot — a stepback jumper over George with 39.7 seconds sealed the Knicks’ 38th win of the season.

Rose tied his season-high of 25 points to pace the Knicks. He added eight assists and grabbed six rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench as the ineffective Elfrid Payton continued to struggle offensively with just two points on a 1-of-5 shooting performance.

Barrett had a complete line — 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block. Randle wound up with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists. He struggled on the field with 7-of-19 shooting but was sharp down the stretch.

With the Knicks’ seven-year playoff drought most likely coming to an end, Thibodeau was appreciative of their journey so far but reminded everyone they should not be satisfied. 

“The challenge for us here is to be hungry and don’t change now,” Thibodeau said. “This is what we’ve done all year. Just concentrate on improvement and the next opponent, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing. I think we’re learning a lot on this trip, and we’ve learned a lot all season long. The toughness to win on the road, to be playing against these teams, it’s telling us a lot. But there’s a long way to go.”

The Knicks will close out this once dreaded West Coast trip against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

NASCAR: Martin Truex dominates NASCAR’s throwback visit to Darlington

Martin Truex Jr. won his third race of the NASCAR Cup Series season by leading 248 of 293 laps at the Goodyear 400.

For his throwback endeavor at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, Martin Truex Jr. drove a black car inspired by his championship triumphs throughout NASCAR’s national series. He fully lived up to the billing in the actual event.

Truex’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led 248 of 293 laps in NASCAR’s annual celebration of turning back the clock, pacing a series of retro paint schemes to earn his third victory of the season at the Goodyear 400. Kyle Larson finished second, followed by Kyle Busch, William Byron, and Denny Hamlin.

Sunday’s win was the 30th of Truex’s career and his third this Cup Series season through a dozen events, having also won at Phoenix and Martinsville. He is currently the only driver in the Cup Series with multiple visits to victory lane with 24 races remaining on the docket. Each of his 2021 victories has come under a 750-horsepower, low-downforce race setup package. The package will bookend the ten-race NASCAR Cup Series postseason slate this fall, returning to Darlington in September and ending back in Phoenix two months later.

“Love low downforce, so I’m gonna say, I love it,” Truex said with a smile after the race. “I feel like, especially this year, with all three races that we won in with this package, the guys and girls at JGR doing a great job…it really was just a fun day, a big challenge, and I just got to give it out to my guys for giving me a great car and doing all the real things right.”

Truex started fourth on Sunday and first took the lead at lap 22 from his teammate Busch and proceeded to lead all but 23 laps afterward. To commemorate NASCAR’s annual “throwback” race, Truex drove a matte black Camry, a nod to his championship season driving a similarly colored Toyota for now-defunct Furniture Row Racing in 2017.

“I think it definitely had some good old Furniture Row, flat black mojo in it,” Truex said. “It was really fun, (but) I don’t know if it’s a statement (win). In this sport, you get judged week-to-week. If we go and run 10th next weekend, they’re gonna say okay, you know, the 19 is down, they’re not that good anymore. We just tried to try to take it week-to-week and have fun.”

“Our guys are doing a great job right now and when your cars are fast, things are clicking, and you know you’re having fun this is the coolest job in the world. When when you’re struggling, it’s probably the most difficult, because all the fingers get pointed at us. We’re going to enjoy it and just keep working hard.”

Truex held a healthy lead for almost all of the race’s latter stages, opening up a lead as wide as 14 seconds while winning the first two stages. Late in the race, Kyle Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet got to Truex’s bumper after the final cycle of green flag pit stops with circa 40 laps to go. Truex withstood the late challenge and rebuilt his lead to 2.5 seconds when the checkered flag waved. Joe Gibbs Racing has now earned wins in consecutive events, with Busch winning at Kansas last weekend. Hamlin is winless but continues to lead the points standings, while Christopher Bell is likewise on the playoff grid through a win at the Daytona road course. Bell was running in the top five before a lost tire relegated him to 14th.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at Dover International Speedway for the Drydene 400 next Sunday afternoon (2 p.m. ET, FS1).

Race Notes

  • Byron’s fourth-place finish gives him top ten finishes in ten consecutive races.

 

  • The early portions of the race, particularly the openings of the first two stages, were marred by wrecks that took out some notable names early. Aric Almirola lasted only five laps before his day ended, while Kurt Busch and Cole Custer were each eliminated in separate incidents at the start of stage two.

 

  • Erik Jones (18th) saw his streak of consecutive top ten finishes at Darlington end at six, done in by a late unscheduled pit stop that put him off the lead lap.

For full standings, click here

For full results, click here

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Mets Escape Rain and Push Through deGrom’s Injury in 4-2 Win

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

The final game between the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks felt like it would never come to an end. After Jacob deGrom left early with an injury, manager Luis Rojas found a way to piece together the final 12 outs and get the Mets a 4-2 win. The victory was the fifth in a row and gave them their first sweep of the 2021 season.

deGrom made his first start in 11 days and looked stellar by retiring the first 12 batters he faced in order. In the fifth inning, he had an uncharacteristic three walks and allowed a run. When deGrom returned to the mound for the sixth inning, he felt discomfort and removed himself from the game with right side tightness. The move was the right one as lat injuries can become dangerous and is an injury no one should try to push through. deGrom finished the day with five innings pitched, one hit allowed, three walks, and six strikeouts.

Miguel Castro took over for deGrom in the sixth and was the beginning of the Mets bullpen, making things interesting. Castro struggled with his command to start but reined himself in to survive a scoreless inning. Jacob Barnes pitched a 1-2-3 seventh but allowed a home run and double in the eighth, leaving with a 4-2 lead. Rojas turned to Edwin Diaz with the tying run on base with one out and induced a double play to keep the lead. Diaz worked around a dropped pop-up to strike out three and complete a terrific sweep.

Get The Ball Rolling

The Mets offense is not rolling on all cylinders, but it is starting to do enough to support their tremendous pitching. Francisco Lindor (sac fly), Michael Conforto (single), and Dominic Smith (single) all were responsible for driving in a run. Patrick Mazeika found another unique way to drive in a run with an RBI walk. In his three career plate appearances, Mazeika has two RBIs but is still searching for his first hit.

The big concern for the Mets is obviously deGrom, but the hope is that he is just dealing with soreness again. If deGrom tried to push through it, he could have had the same fate as Noah Syndergaard in 2017. Syndergaard pitched through a lat injury in 2017, and he ended up missing five months of the season. Hopefully, deGrom only needs extra rest again to get back to 100%.

This whole series was an example of how dangerous the Mets can become. They showed their bullpen is fully capable of picking up the slack with the starting pitching has a rare short outing. The offense is slowly coming back to life, and the defense even showed it is much improved from last season. The bullpen will get a much-needed rest before the Baltimore Orioles fly into town for a quick two-game series.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees pull off second walk-off win to win the Nats series

Today at Yankee Stadium, the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals met up in the rubber game of the three-game set. The Nationals won the first game 11-4, and the Yankees had a 4-3 walk-off win yesterday. Today the Yankees Domingo German was set to start against the Nationals’ Joe Ross, who had never pitched at Yankee Stadium in his career. The Yankees got their second walk-off win in as many days. Yankees 3 Nationals 2.

With Domingo German on the mound in the first inning, he faced Trea Turner, who singled on an off-line throw by LeMahieu. Josh Harrison flew out to Frazier in right field. Juan Soto hit into a double play ending the half. At the bottom, DJ LeMahieu led off against Ross and ground out to short Giancarlo Stanton walked. Aaron Hicks had a long out to center. Gleyber Torres went down on strikes to end the scoreless inning.

The top of the second had Josh Bell at the plate; he flung his pink bat into the camera well before going down looking. Starlin Castro doubled with a ball to the left-field wall that died. Kyle Schwarber went down on strikes. Yan Gomes popped out to Ford behind first base. Leading off the bottom was Gary Sanchez, who struck out. Mike Ford walked of four pitches. Clint Frazier flew out to right. Miguel Andujar ground out and was 0 for 7 since being called up. No score.

The third inning had Yadiel Hernandez at the plate facing German; he struck out. Victor Robles ground out to LeMahieu. Turner dropped in a single to no man’s land in center. Harrison flew out to Frazier. At the bottom, Brett Gardner led off with a walk. LeMahieu flew out to the far right field. Stanton walked. Hicks had an RBI single scoring Gardner. Gleyber Torres ground into a force with Stanton going to third. Sanchez went down on strikes, but the Yankees took the lead. New York Yankees 1, Nationals 0.

Soto led off the fourth, flying out to Brett Gardner in left. Bell struck out. Castro got a walk off of German, his first one. Schwarber ground out to Ford to end the half. Ford led off by sticking out at the bottom. Frazier went down on strikes. Andujar ground out. Yankees 1 Nationals 0.

Gomes struck out against German in the fifth. Hernandez ground out to Gardner. Robles struck out for German’s sixth put down of the game. The bottom was led off by Brett Gardner, who ground out to second. LeMahieu singled to center. Stanton struck out be DJ stole second base. Hicks struck out to strand LeMahieu. New York Yankees 1 Nationals 0.

At the top of the sixth inning, Turner flew out to Hicks in center. Harrison flew out to left. Soto ground out as German put away 7 Nationals in a row. With only one run scored in the game, it was turning into a pitcher’s duel. At the bottom, Torres Gleyber Torres got the monkey off his back with his first home run of the season; a 411′ shot to left. Sanchez walked on four pitches, knocking Ross out of the game. Mike Ford faced Sam Clay and struck out. Frazier hit into a double play, dropping his batting average even further. Yankees 2 Nationals 0.

The seventh inning had Bell doubling off the left-field wall. Castro popped out to Sanchez. Schwarber had a two-run home run to tie up the game at 2 apiece. Gomes facing Michael King got a single. For the second game in a row, the game was up to the bullpens of both teams. Hernandez hit into a double play to end the half. At the bottom, Austin Voth took the mound for the Nationals against Andujar, who went down on strikes. Gardner hit into a ground-rule double when his hit bounced into the bullpen. LeMahieu walked with Stanton coming to the plate. He hit into a double play for the second DP of the game for the Yankees. The game tied at 2.

In the eighth inning, Robles ground out to Torres. Turner got a base hit to center. Harrison flew out to Hicks in center. Wandy Peralta came in to face Juan Soto; he popped out to Torres. At the bottom, Hick fouled a ball off his shin, dropping him to the ground for some time. Hicks walked it off and remained in the game; he ended up walking. Torres ground out to short, but Hicks moved to second base. Sanchez recorded his 3rd strikeout of the game. Ford was walked intentionally. Clint Frazier popped out to second to keep the game tied at 2.

Aroldis Chapman came on at the top of the ninth to hold it tied. Bell ground out to LeMahieu. Castro got a one-out single to center. Schwarber popped out to Torres. Gomes went down on strikes. At the bottom of the ninth, Wade faced the Nationals’ closer Brad Hand, and Wade walked on four straight pitches. Aaron Judge pinch-hitting for Gardner walked. LeMahieu ground out, but Wade moved to third with one out as they couldn’t complete the double play. Stanton singled to win the game for the Yankees driving in Wade. Final score New York Yankees 3 Nationals 2. The winning pitcher was Aroldis Chapman, and the loser was Brad Hand.

New York Yankees: This week in Yankee History (video)

There probably isn’t a day that goes by that something in New York Yankee history hasn’t happened that is memorable in their 109-year history. Here is a look at this week’s happenings in that history.

2002, May 9th:

The New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera recorded his 225th save, creating a new Yankee franchise record. He did it preserving a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. The Yankee Hall of Famer completed his 19-year career, all with the Yankees with 652 saves. He was a 13 times All-Star, a 9 times MVP nominee, and a 6 times Cy Young Award nominee.

1934, May 10th:

The Yankees’ Lou Gehrig tied a major league record by hitting four extra-base hits in one game. This happened at Comiskey Park against the Chicago White Sox. He hit two home runs and two doubles in the game. He scored 7 RBI’s in just five innings before benching himself due to a severe cold. The Yankees won the game 11-3.

1946, May 11th:

The Boston Red Sox started the season at a torrid rate winning 23 games while losing 3 games. After winning 15 games straight before meeting up with the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on this day, Yankee pitcher Tiny Bonham allowed the Red Sox only two hits and broke their winning streak. He shut them out 2-0. However, it didn’t stop the Red Sox; they went on to capture the AL pennant.

2006, May 11th:

Prior to this day, the Yankee outfielder Hideki Matsui had played in every game since becoming a Yankee. That’s 518 straight games. But on this day, making a diving catch in left field, Matsui broke his left wrist. Matsui would never be the same in the outfield, and at the end of his career with the Yankees, he was mostly a designated hitter. His record of 518 games broke Hall of Famer Erie Banks, who started his career with 424 straight games.

2014, May 12th:

New York Yankee second baseman Alfonso Soriano became the seventh player in the major league to record 1,000 hits in both leagues. At age 38, he also became the first major leaguer to record 100 home runs, 500 runs, and 500 RBI’s in each league.

1929, May 13th:

This day marks the first time in major league history that two teams met each other in a game with both teams wearing numbers on the back of their jerseys. It was in a game when the Indians hosted the New York Yankees at Cleveland’s League Park. In those early days, numbers represented their place in the lineup.

1955, May 13th:

At Yankee Stadium on this day against the Detroit Tigers, Yankee slugger Micky Mantle hit a home run from both sides of the plate for the first time in his career. He ended the game by hitting three home runs in the Yankee 5-2 win. He drove in all the runs in the game.

1967, May 14th Mother’s Day special:

On this Mother’s Day and as a promise to his wife Merlyn, Mickey Mantle hit his 500th home run. It was a cheap homer to the short porch at Yankee Stadium; nevertheless, he kept his promise. He was the sixth major leaguer to reach the dramatic milestone.

1996, May 14th:

Dwight “Doc” Gooden becomes the eighth Yankees to pitch a no-hitter. He threw 135 pitches in the 2-0 win over the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

1912, May 15th:

You may have only heard great things about the legend Ty Cobb, but he wasn’t always the nice guy. On this day, being tired of being heckled, Cobb jumped into the stands and pummeled a fan. Claude Lueker missing many fingers due to a work injury got the shit beat out of him, including being kicked with Cobb’s cleats.

1941 May 15th:

New York Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio started his famous 56 game hitting streak. He would have a hit in every game through July 17th. His streak ended in Cleveland against the Indians.

 

The New York Giants might’ve landed a steal in pass-rusher Elerson Smith

elerson smith, new york giants

When the New York Giants selected Northern Iowa standout defender Elerson Smith, most were surprised, even flabbergasted at the selection. The Giants desperately needed offensive line support after ranking 31st in pass-blocking efficiency in 2020. However, the Giants took a different approach this year, focusing on value and best player available. They ended up with Elerson, who entered college as a 190-pound pass rusher in desperate need of size and strength.

Smith went on a physical journey to transform his body, adding 75 pounds of healthy weight to his frame, increasing his power and speed up the process. As a 6’7″, 255-pound defensive end, Smith projects as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 base scheme. He has the length to seal the edge but also the underrated speed and power to get after the quarterback. The Giants perilously needed more depth and starting level talent at the position, especially with Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines going down last year and not having a healthy sample size to prove their production.

There’s reason to believe that Smith could be one of their bigger steals from this year’ss draft, as he posted a 4.71 40-yard dash and put up 26 reps on the bench press at his Pro Day. He is fast and strong, earning 14 sacks last year for Northern Iowa.

According to Bryce Paup (Elerson’s DL coach at Northern Iowa), who was interviewed by Patricia Traina of Giants Country:

“We knew he had potential, but there’s a lot of people that have potential, but never reached their full potential,” Paup said.

“Why? Because they can’t put it all together. This game is more than just athleticism. It’s the ability to work hard to study, to do the right things at the right time to treat people right, to keep your nose clean all the time, and to be able to handle the mental stress that comes with it.”

Of course, Smith was the 116th pick, so he is a developmental prospect who needs some time to get his feet wet at the NFL level. With stronger and bigger players to beat in the trenches, Smith is going to have a rough time adjusting his game, as these experience players have seen it all, ranging from speed to power. They know how to control and react underdeveloped players, so while I imagine Smith well be viewed as a rotational piece to start his career, he has the upside to make an impact as a potential starter down the line.

Nonetheless, the Giants had serious issues with injury last season at OLB, so Elerson will have an opportunity to earn reps at some point in the season, especially since the Giants scheme for opponent and offensive systems.

Knicks News: Coaches, scouts rave about RJ Barrett’s incredible growth

Without second-year player RJ Barrett, the New York Knicks would be struggling in some categories. Of course, All-Star Julius Randle has led their team to success this season, and Barrett has fed off of that production and efficiency. However, Barrett has taken massive strides forward in his point production, increasing from 14.3 in 2019 to 17.7 to the 2020–21 season.

In addition, he’s averaging more steals per game, rebounds per game, and his free-throw percentage has ballooned to .745. He’s shooting .445 from the field and nearly .400 from three-point land, indicating an increase in efficiency with his shooting.

“His shooting,” Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego said raved about RJ Barrett, according to ESPN. “You can start there. Just the ability to shoot the ball now. He looks a lot more comfortable, more confident in his shot. He’s made a lot more plays. I think his playmaking has really taken a step there — and a lot of that comes out of your confidence in shooting the ball.”

“I think players in general, when they can shoot the ball and they can get downhill, they get much more comfortable making plays off the bounce and making plays for other people.”

Barrett has quickly put himself in conversation to be the next star in the NBA, but he does have some weaknesses that need to be refined if he wants to take that next step forward. The Knicks will be looking to add another big-time player next summer in free agency, but they may already have a budding one on the roster to help push the steam forward and hopefully compete for a championship in the next few years.

One scout was a bit more critical of Barrett’s game, indicating that he’s not a star-level player and more of a complementary option. While I disagree with that narrative, he has certainly benefited from the rise of Randle and complimented him very nicely.

“I don’t view him as a franchise or star-level player,” a Western Conference executive said. “I think he’s a complementary scorer and bucket-getter. His shooting has helped his efficiency, but he still plays a lot off the bounce and hasn’t proven able to make those shots.

RJ has an opportunity to squash this narrative, as the Knicks have two competitive matchups against the LA Clippers and Lakers over the next few days. Stellar performances from Barrett might quiet the haters, as they desperately need him to rise to the occasion and help extract a few victories on this tough road stretch.

 

New York Yankees: Takeaways from the Yankees’ walk-off win

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

After losing game one, the New York Yankees had an exciting pitching duel yesterday between starting pitchers combined for five Cy Young awards. In the end, they both pitched too well to be involved in the decision. The Yankees won the rain-delayed game 4-3. The name of the game was pitching, as both teams had trouble scoring runs.

An epic pitching duel

After a nearly two-and-a-half-hour rain delay, 2 times Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber took to the mound for the New York Yankees. Previous to being hired by the Yankees, the star pitcher hadn’t pitched for almost two years after being hit by a pitch while with the Cleveland Indians and injuring his shoulder after pitching just one inning for the Texas Rangers. Since his first start with the Yankees, he has been shaking off the rust and getting closer to his winning form. In his last outing against the Detroit Tigers, he went 8 innings allowing no runs and just two hits.

Yesterday, he wasn’t quite that good, pitching 5.2 innings allowing 2 earned runs. For the second game in a row, he threw over 100 pitches, striking out 6 Nationals. He walked 3 batters. He didn’t have his best stuff in a nutshell, and his changeup just wasn’t as sharp. But like any good pitcher, he kept the Yankees in the game.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was truly amazing. The future Hall of Famer pitched into the eighth inning, only allowing a home run to Yankee catcher Kyle Higashioka while striking out 14 Yankees. He only allowed 2 Yankee hits in the game. He was coming off a complete-game win against the Miami Marlins on Sunday. After that win, he had time to go to the hospital and witness the birth of his son Derek.

Yankees hitters struggled, but Gleyber Torres came through in the eleventh inning

Up against one of the best pitchers in baseball, the oft-time struggling Yankee hitters continued to struggle. So far this season, the Yankee hitters have been hot or cold, mostly cold.  Off of Scherzer, they could only muster up two hits in nearly eight innings. Catcher Kyle Higashioka broke out of his mini-slump by hitting the Yankees’ only home run. Miguel Andujar, who was brought up from Scranton to replace Gio Urshela, has gone 0 for 6 in the Nats series.

The New York Yankees played without Gio Urshela, who is not on the IL but is day to day recovering from a knee injury suffered in the last game of the Astros series and igniting hitter Rougned Odor. Most all the hitters struggled against Nationals pitching. The starting three, LeMahieu, Stanton, and Judge, went 3 for 12 at the plate. One hitter, Gleyber Torres, was the star of the game. His single in the ninth inning tied the game at 3 and pushed it into extra innings. At the bottom of the eleventh, with DJ LeMahieu as the ghost runner, Stanton took to the plate, and with Tanner Rainy on the mound, Stanton walked. Judge walked to load the bases with no outs. Gleyber Torres had a 50′ infield single to get the walk-off win.

This was the first walk-off win for the Yankees this season. They are now one game over .500. For complete coverage of the win go here.

Today’s game:

Today at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the Yankees will again face the Washington Nationals in the final rubber game of the 3 game set. Today’s game is the most difficult to predict the outcome; much has to do with which Domingo German shows up. German (2-2 ERA 4.32) will face the Nationals’ Joe Ross (2-2 ERA 4.39). Between his 2 starts against the Orioles and Cleveland, German went 12 innings scoreless, but in his last outing, he went only five innings giving up three earned runs; in a game, the Yankees eventually won over the Astros.

Joe Ross has never faced the New York Yankees before and has not experienced Yankee Stadium and its fans. He is 3-2 in interleague games in his career. So far this season, the Nationals had lost 3 of his 5 starts, including his last start against the Atlanta Braves, when he went 5.1 innings giving up 2 earned runs while striking out 3 and walking 2 Braves. The Sunday matinee will be televised on the YES Network, MASN, and MLB out of market.

 

 

New York Giants accidentally walked into a contingency plan for Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants went into the 2021 NFL draft with their eyes on Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith with the 11th overall pick. As they waited patiently for arguably the best WR in college history to reach their selection, other pass-catchers were flying off the board left and right, as Jaylen Waddle went to Miami and Ja’Marr Chase to the Cincinnati Bengals. However, Smith was on the board with the 10th overall pick; Giants felt strongly they would land the Alabama stand-out receiver.

However, the Philadelphia Eagles leapfrogged the Giants with an inter-divisional trade, including the Dallas Cowboys. They proceeded to select Smith and leave the Giants stranded in the water, but that might’ve been the best thing they could’ve done for a Big Blue squad in dire need of future draft capital and a contingency plan for quarterback Daniel Jones whether they knew it or not.

Jones has had his fair share of struggles at the NFL level, seeing his touchdowns drop from 24 to 11 in 2020 under coordinator Jason Garrett. He did experience an improvement in ball security, but Jones is nowhere near being considered a franchise quarterback until he can prove consistent production on the field.

The Giants provided him with a WR1 in Kenny Golladay, a new TE in Kyle Rudolph, and various playmakers, including John Ross and Kadarius Toney, their 20th overall selection. They also have Saquon Barkley preparing to make a return from a torn ACL, so there is no excuse for Jones to struggle unless the offensive line provides them with minimal time in the pocket. However, I expect them to be a bit more efficient, simply based on the fact that more playmakers will draw more attention and force defenses to play cover-2 and drag LBs and safeties out of the box.

The New York Giants walked away WINNERS:

What the Giants did trading back with the Chicago Bears was exactly what they needed to do, adding a first/fourth-round pick for 2021 and a fifth-round pick this year. In fact, I would go as far as the claim they accidentally put a contingency plan in place for Jones if he doesn’t take the developmental jump they seek in his third year as a pro.

They now have two first-round selections next season, and the Chicago Bears are working through their quarterback situation and don’t plan to start Justin Fields right away. In addition, they have the second hardest schedule in the NFL, so that first-round pick could be even more valuable if they lose a plethora of games.

The Giants would walk away with a heist, offering an opportunity to replace Jones if need be without restarting a rebuild, but also spending draft capital they have now instead of future picks, which would hurt their chances at adding adequate depth.

It took nine drafts for general manager Dave Gettleman to see the value in moving back, and even if it wasn’t his preferred method, he put himself in an incredibly advantageous position moving forward.