New York Giants: Saquon Barkley gets no. 7 spot in PFF RB rankings

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

After his rookie season, the New York Giants organization probably predicted Saquon Barkley becoming one of the top running backs in the league during the years after. That prediction has only partially come true – Barkley has been excellent when fully healthy, but injuries slowed him down in 2019 and caused him to miss almost the entire 2020 season.

Despite that, Barkley still comes into the 2021 season with many experts considering him a top back in the league.

Those experts making optimistic predictions include Pro Football Focus, who placed Barkley at number seven in their running back rankings for the upcoming season.

7. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

One of the most talented backs in the league, Saquon Barkley embodies the cautionary tale of the position, with both injury and environment combining to limit his effectiveness so far at the pro level. Barkley showed what he was capable of as a rookie, but that is his only season that generated a PFF grade above 80.0.

As expected, the article calls back to his rookie season when talking about his best performance. Barkley is expected but not guaranteed to come back for week one of this season, and all reports so far have indicated his offseason recovery progress is good.

The Giants have brought on Devontae Booker and Corey Clement to add to the running back ranks in free agency, but the hope is that they won’t have to lean on these players and that Barkley will instead pick back up with his rookie season performance.

He was a contender for rushing leader during that rookie year, so at the end of the day, we shouldn’t be surprised if Barkley challenges the leading rushers like Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook if he can stay healthy.

The number seven ranking, after all, is based largely off the fact that Barkley is coming off back to back injury plagued years. If he’s fully healthy, there’s a good chance we see him step far above being the seventh best running back in the league and back into the nationwide spotlight.

New York Yankees Recap: Montgomery plays ace in Yankee’s walk off win

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The New York Yankees started a three-game set with the Chicago White Sox tonight at the Stadium. The game was televised on WPIX locally. The Yankees Jordan Montgomery started for the Yankees and Carlos Rodon for the White Sox.

To start the game, Montgomery faced the White Soxs’ Tim Anderson, who flew out to Aaron Judge in right. Madrigal grounded out to right. Yoan Moncada singled over the head of Torres at short. Jose Abreu ground out to Judge for a fast inning for Montgomery. At the bottom, DJ LeMahieu led off against Carlos Rodon, and he struck out. Luke Voit struck out swinging, as did Aaron Judge for no score in the first inning.

The top of the second inning saw Yermin Mercedes single. Lrury Garcia ground into a  force. Andy Vaughn went down looking. Zack Collins went down on strikes to end the half. The bottom was led off by Gio Urshela, who stuck out. Gleyber Torres struck out for the fifth strikeout in a row for Rodon. Roughie Odor flew out to center for the 1-2-3 inning for Rodon, with no score.

The top of the third was led off by Danny Mandick, who flew out to the scoreboard by it was caught by Aaron judge. Anderson struck out swinging, and Madrigal ground out to the pitcher for a 1-2-3 inning for Montgomery. Sanchez led the bottom by striking out. Miguel Andujar got a base runner with Andujar’s singles over the head of the second baseman. Brett Gardner doubled with Andujar going to third on a throwing error. LeMahieu with men on the corners and one out hit to first with Andujar out at home plate. Voit with men on the corners with two outs struck out for Rodon’s seventh strikeout. Still no score.

At the top of the fourth, Moncada went down on strikes. Abreu struck out. Mercedes singled to center field. Garcia flew out to Gardner for another scoreless half. At the bottom, Aaron Judge led off by singling to short. Urshela struck out. Torres also struck out. Odor popped out to left to end another scoreless inning.

Andy Vaughn led off the fifth inning, and he flew out. Collins popped out to Voit in the infield. Mendick struck out for Monty’s seven put down in the game that was turning into a pitcher’s duel. Garcy Sanchez led off the bottom by striking out. Andujar ground out to second. Brett Gardner stuck out with 18 strikeouts in the game. No score.

Tim Anderson led off the sixth by striking out for Monty’s eighth strikeout. Madrigal ground out to second. Moncada doubled to the left-field wall. Abreu struck out. The top of the order led off for the Yankees at the bottom. LeMahieu stuck out for Rondon’s career-high strikeouts tie. Voit flew out to right. Judge also struck out for a career-high 13 strikeouts. No score.

Yermin Mercedes struck out for Monty’s career-high 10 strikeouts. Garcia lined out to left. Vaughn doubled on a ball that was not caught in left-center. Collins was replaced by Yasmani Grandal and struck out. At the bottom, with a new pitcher on the mound, Michael Kopech, Urshela struck out. Gleyber Torres then homer to center for the New York Yankee lead in the game.  Odor struck out. Sanchez ground out to end the inning, but the Yankees took the lead in the game. New York Yankees 1 White Sox 0.

At the top of the eighth with Jonathan Loaisiga on the mound, Adam Eaton walked. Eaton when to third on a wild pitch. Anderson ground out to first, but Eaton made it to third base, one out. Madrigal blooped one to short right, and Eaton scored on the play to tie the game. Moncada singled to Judge, but an exceptional play be Judge got Madrigal out at second for the second out of the half. Abreu grounded out to end the half in a tied game. At the bottom, Andujar singled to center.  Tyler Wade pinch ran for him. Wade stole second. Gardner singled to left with Wade stopping at third, knocking Kopech out of the game. With Evan Marshall in, he faced DJ LeMahieu with men on the corners and no outs. LeMahieu singled, but Wade was out at home as he traveled out off the baseline. With two on and one out, Luke Voit hit into a double play to end the inning.   Yankees 1 and the White Sox 1.

At the top of the ninth, with Mercedes at the plate and closer Aroldis Chapman on the mound, he walked. Hamilton came in to pinch run.  Garcia singled on a mishandled catch by Chapman, both runner safe with no outs. Vaughn hit, but the Yankees had their first triple play of the season to end the half. Aaron Judge took to the plate at the bottom of the tied game, and he singled up the middle. Urshela singled to the far center. Torres singled with two on and no outs, driving in Judge for the fantastic walk-off win and their fourth win in a row.

The final score was the New York Yankees 2 and the White Sox 1. The winning pitcher was Aroldis Chapman, and the loser was Evan Marshall.

 

New York Giants: James Bradberry is an under-appreciated playmaker

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants enjoyed having one of the top defenders in the NFL on their team last season. In 2020, James Bradberry led the way to make New York’s defense a top-ten unit in points allowed per game. Bradberry was a shutdown cornerback for the Giants that put together an incredible statistical season.

James Bradberry stats and highlights

The New York Giants made a splash in the 2020 NFL offseason when they signed cornerback James Bradberry. The Giants and Bradberry inked a three-year, $43.5 million deal. New York’s new cornerback spent the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers, where he was drafted by current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman.

During his time in Carolina, James Bradberry was a great cornerback. Since 2019, Bradberry has forced the third most incompletions in the NFL with 27 forced (PFF). Since 2018 Bradberry has forced 42 incompletions, the most incompletions among all cornerbacks (PFF). He has had an excellent career, but Bradberry took his game to another level during his first season in New York.

In 2020, James Bradberry locked down everything deep. The Giants basically had an extra safety on the field with Bradberry at cornerback. On targets 20+ yards downfield, James Bradberry allowed 0 touchdowns and totaled 3 interceptions (T-2nd) according to PFF.

But Bradberry was not just a beast on the deep ball. He was also a true lockdown cornerback that could go one-on-one with any wide receiver. James Bradberry forced 14 incompletions in single coverage, tied for the most in the NFL in 2020 (PFF).

Despite leading in all these statistics and shutting down opposing wide receivers week in and week out, James Bradberry did not make an NFL All-Pro team. He did make PFF’s All-Pro Team, though. Bradberry set a new career-high with 18 passes defended, which was tied for the second-most in the NFL and only two behind Miami’s Xavien Howard for the league lead (Giants.com). PFF gave the 27-year-old cornerback the recognition he deserved, but it is time for the rest of the NFL to put some respect on James Bradberry’s name.

UFC books Jose Aldo – Pedro Munhoz

The UFC has finalized a big time matchup in the bantamweight division. Combate was the first to report today that the promotion has finalized a bantamweight matchup between Jose Aldo (29-7) and Pedro Munhoz (19-5, 1 NC).

The two top eight bantamweights will meet at UFC 265 on August 7th. Pedro Munhoz will be trying to pickup his second consecutive win as he tries to become a title contender at 135 pounds.

We last saw Munhoz in February when he had his rematch with Jimmie Rivera. Munhoz used his devastating leg kicks to chop down Rivera and pick up a decision win. That win was Munhoz’s first win since UFC 235 in March of 2019.

Prior to that victory, Munhoz had lost decisions to Frankie Edgar and Aljamain Sterling. Before losing those two fights in a row, Munhoz had a knockout win over former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt.

This is a massive opportunity for Munhoz against one of the bigger names in the division. If he can defeat Aldo in August, Munhoz will likely be in a good position to get a title eliminator in his next matchup.

UFC 265

Jose Aldo will also be looking to pick up his second consecutive win at UFC 265. Aldo picked up his first victory in the bantamweight division back in December when he defeated Chito Vera by decision.

The long-time featherweight champion made the drop to bantamweight late in 2019. At UFC 245, Aldo took on Marlon Moraes in his divisional debut. Aldo lost a decision, but the majority of people believe that he won the fight.

In fact, despite losing, Aldo’s next fight was for the bantamweight title. Aldo lost to Petr Yan at UFC 251 in his bid to become a champion in his second weight class. After that loss, Aldo reset prior to his fight with Chito Vera.

There’s no questioning the fact that Aldo has slowed down a little since the days of his prime. However, even with him slowing down, he’s still one of the very best the UFC has to offer. If he can defeat Munhoz in August, he will be right back in the title conversation at 135 pounds.

UFC President on Jon Jones situation: ‘We’re Moving On’

UFC, Dana White

The UFC doesn’t have Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) in their plans anytime soon. The former light heavyweight champion and all time great has been in a public spat with the promotion about his pay.

Jones was seeking a bump in his pay to move up and fight the UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16-3). The fight with Jones and Ngannou is the biggest fight the promotion can make outside of a fight that features Conor McGregor.

Ngannou became the heavyweight champion at UFC 260 when he knocked out Stipe Miocic (20-4). For the months leading up to that event, it was understood that Jon Jones would be fighting the winner.

However, immediately after the fight was over, Jones started requesting a bump in his pay. While the numbers are not publicly known, it’s obvious that the gap between Jones and the UFC is wide.

White has been vocal in that Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) would likely get the next shot at Ngannou. However, with that fight not being finalized yet, there has been some outside hope that Jones would still get the shot.

UFC has moved on

Dana White spoke to TMZ Sports this week and he made it clear that the UFC has moved on from this situation with Jones. He also said that Jones will make the call on whether or not he wants to fight again.

“I have absolutely moved on. Listen, I put on fights every Saturday. We have a window on when we try to build some fights and make things happen. If the fights don’t happen within that window, we move on,” White said.

When asked about Jones’ UFC future, White said, “That’s up to Jon. I was saying that night (UFC 260), that he could absolutely fight again at 205. He said he wouldn’t fight Stipe…Listen, there’s nothing wrong with going out on top.”

With the UFC moving towards booking the rematch between Ngannou and Lewis, White had previously suggested Jones fight Stipe Miocic in a title eliminator. However, Jones said last week that he had no interest in fighting the former heavyweight champion.

Yankees sign a reliever to minor league deal, but outfield depth is starting to become a concern

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have a glaring need for outfielders, with lots of injuries and underperforming players in that specific position. They are reportedly interested in speedy center fielder Delino DeShields Jr.

The Yankees made a signing on Friday, but it has nothing to do with the current outfielder need. They secured the services of right-handed reliever Sal Romano on a minor league deal, to shore up the overall depth in the organization.

According to a report from NBC Sports Edge, the Yankees signed the former Cincinnati Reds right-hander after his former team designated him for assignment last week and removed him from the 40-man roster.

Per NJ Advance Media, Romano has made 14 appearances this season, with a 5.23 ERA. The 27-year-old hurler was drafted by Cincinnati in 2011 and was a starter for most of his minor league career.

However, in 2018, Romano made the transition to the bullpen, which is the role the Yankees probably have in mind for him.

For his career, Romano has a 15-19 record with a 5.15 ERA in 83 games from the mound.

What about the Yankees’ outfield?

The Yankees are now expected to address the outfield next, as the number of healthy players at the position is decreasing by the day.

Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks are on the injured list, and Ryan LaMarre got injured this week, as well. Clint Frazier is dealing with a sore neck, too.

Right now, the Yankees’ outfield depth is in a bit of a crisis, as Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner are the only healthy true defenders of the position, a situation that has forced manager Aaron Boone to rely on true infielders converted to outfielders as part of their respective utility experiments: Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade.

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees continue to discuss DeShields with the Texas Rangers.

FOCO Releases New York Mets Cookie Club Bobblehead Series

FOCO is releasing a new limited edition New York Mets Cookie Club Bobblehead Series to commemorate the closest group of teammates in baseball. The first series of bobbleheads feature Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and the newest Met, Carlos “Cookie” Carrasco.

There are 221 of the unique bobbleheads on sale. Each one features a player in their trademark pose and on top of a cookie. Each bobblehead is just $50, and it is your best way to see them as all of them are battling injuries at the moment. This is just the first series of the fantastic collection; Mets fans make sure to keep an eye out for the next batch of wonderful bobbleheads.

Mets’ Jacob deGrom set to return from injured list after dominant rehab start

The New York Mets wanted Jacob deGrom to prove that he can return to pitching at a high level, stretching, and doing every little thing in his pre and post-start routine before activating him from the injured list.

As a reminder, the Mets’ ace has been dealing with soreness in his right side since last week. He had to leave his last start after just five innings.

But he aced his latest test, which came Thursday night in the minor leagues. The team had him starting for Low-A St. Lucie, in what was quite an experience for Mets’ minor leaguers.

Fortunately, deGrom, out since May 11 with the aforementioned right side tightness, had no issues striking out eight of the 10 Palm Beach batters he faced in his rehab outing.

The Mets’ hurler felt good afterwards and, as a result, he is now expected to return from the injured list for his next start, a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi. The Mets haven’t confirmed where the start pitcher will next outing.

The Mets will have deGrom available early next week

If the Mets have him pitching with his regular rest, deGrom would return Tuesday to face the Colorado Rockies.

DeGrom reportedly touched 102 mph last night, indicating that he is at full strength and ready to pick up things right where he left them.

DeGrom, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, has been absolutely amazing so far in the 2021 season, with an unbelievable 0.68 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 40 innings.

The Mets can certainly use him in their rotation, as they currently have four stellar starters on the injured list: Noah Syndergaard, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker are also out of action with injuries.

Carrasco and Syndergaard should be back within the next couple of weeks, and Walker could be ready sooner if he has no issues with his own left side soreness.

UFC struggling to find a fight for Luke Rockhold

Luke Rockhold

Former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold (16-5) is gearing up for his return to the octagon. Rockhold hasn’t competed since July of 2019 and he’s taken the last couple of years to let his body recover.

The former UFC champion is currently just 1-3 in his last four fights. All three of those losses came via knockout and prompted Rockhold to contemplate hanging it up. However, Rockhold is focused on a return and he’s determined to become champion again.

That said, the UFC is currently struggling to find him an opponent. Rockhold told Helen Yee this week that there are multiple top fifteen guys who have turned him down. This has caused a lot of frustration from the former champion.

In my opinion, the perfect fight for Rockhold’s return would’ve been a rematch with another former UFC champion in Chris Weidman. Of course, that fight is spoiled with Weidman’s leg snapping in his UFC 261 fight against Uriah Hall.

Who should the UFC pair Rockhold with?

Rockhold said that the UFC had tossed out names like Darren Till, Kevin Holland, and Uriah Hall as potential opponents. However, none of those fighters agreed to the matchup.

With that, Rockhold is still without a dance partner. Rockhold said that he would like to make his UFC return before his next birthday in October. So, who should the UFC target for his return fight?

In looking at the rankings, there are a few fights that would make sense for Rockhold. A fight that I really like is a potential matchup with Kelvin Gastelum (16-7, 1 NC). Gastelum is currently ranked in the top ten and he’s only been in there with the best over the last couple of years.

He’s coming off of a loss to the former UFC champion Robert Whittaker in April. That said, for Rockhold, a fight with Gastelum would be a good barometer in determining where he currently is at compared to top competition.

Another potential matchup for Rockhold could be the winner of the Jack Hermansson – Edmen Shahbazyan fight. Those two fight tomorrow night and if the winner comes out clean, perhaps the UFC looks at that matchup.

UFC Vegas 27 Preview: Edmen Shahbazyan – Jack Hermansson

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC Vegas 27, we will see a big time matchup in the middleweight division. The Golden Boy Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1) makes his return as he takes on The Joker Jack Hermansson (21-6).

Shahbazyan was one of the UFC‘s most hyped prospects in 2020. He started out his career inside the octagon at 4-0 including three first round stoppages. The most impressive victory was his first round knockout over Brad Tavares.

That win propelled Shahbazyan into his first UFC main event last August. Shahbazyan was tasked with fighting the gate keeper of the middleweight division, Derek Brunson. Ultimately, Brunson stopped the Shahbazyan hype train via a third round TKO.

Shahbazyan didn’t want to take a step back to reset after the loss and the UFC didn’t give him one. Tomorrow night, he’s going to be taking on one of the trickier middleweights in the division.

Jack Hermansson is looking to bounce back after he lost to Marvin Vettori back in December. Hermansson is 5-2 in his last seven UFC fights with the two losses coming against Vettori and Jared Cannonier. If he’s able to win at UFC Vegas 27, Hermansson will propel himself right back into the mix at 185.

UFC Vegas 27 Prediction

I’m very curious to see what we will get out of Edmen Shahbazyan at UFC Vegas 27. Derek Brunson broke him in his last fight and usually with prospects one of two things happens after a loss like either.

Either Shahbazyan is going to look better than ever tomorrow or he will look like a shell of that top prospect that UFC fans were excited for. Even if Shahbazyan looks good tomorrow, he’s in for a very tough fight.

Jack Hermansson does pretty much everything well inside the cage. His striking is his weakest area, but he’s still effective with his striking. He can hang on the feet with Shahbazyan especially if Shahbazyan’s power can’t put him away.

If this fight goes the distance, I see no way that Shahbazyan wins. I think Hermansson’s grappling and pace are a tough out for the prospect. I wouldn’t rule out a Shahbazyan stoppage on the feet at UFC Vegas 27, but I think The Joker is going to be too much.

Prediction: Jack Hermansson by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 3