The New York Giants had a notable position group that wasn’t around for voluntary OTAs – the secondary.
The secondary has, of course, been touted as one of the most improved areas of the team this season. The Giants are now relying on the duo of James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson at corner, but also add new draft picks who will compete for a spot.
At safety, they have a promising group that includes Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and a healthy Xavier McKinney. However, despite the promising nature of this secondary, Giants fans have had to wait to see it in action on the field.
That will change as the timeline moves from voluntary OTAs to mandatory minicamp.
Judging by content on Giants social channels from their in-house Media Day photo shoots today, in addition to Jabrill Peppers, Adoree Jackson and James Bradberry have arrived as expected on the eve of minicamp. They did not participate in two OTAs open to beat reporters.
Based on official team sources, it looks like the defensive backs have turned up to team facilities for upcoming practices. That includes Bradberry, Jackson, as well as Peppers.
What should we expect during minicamp?
The Giants are mostly set at safety and it doesn’t look like there’s any big changes coming to the rotation, but the cornerback spot is less certain. While we already know which players are filling the top spots, there’s a lot more uncertainty behind them.
The Giants drafted Aaron Robinson in the third round and Rodarius Williams in the sixth – both of them play cornerback, so expect to see them in competition with returning players Darnay Holmes and Sam Beal.
The team has a number of options when it comes to their backup cornerback lineup, so this might be the most important part of the secondary to pay attention to during minicamp.
The Giants also brought in two other defensive backs from the Titans, Chris Milton and Joshua Kalu. Given the influx of additions, don’t be surprised if not everyone that comes into offseason training as part of the secondary makes it onto the final roster. The Giants aren’t exactly short on talent at the position, and minicamp is likely to be more competitive than OTAs.
Tom Thibodeau was fittingly named the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year on Monday after whipping long-time lottery team New York Knicks into a playoff contender right in his first year.
Thibodeau narrowly edged Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams, 351-340, to win his second NBA Coach of the Year award becoming the 10th head coach in league history to win multiple times.
Interestingly, Thibodeau first won the award also during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls in 2010-11 thus making him the first coach in the NBA to achieve the feat in his first season as head coach with two different teams.
Williams had more first-place votes than Thibodeau, 45-43. But Thibodeau clinched the award with 10 more second-place votes.
It was the closest Coach of the Year race in history since the current voting format was introduced in the 2002-03 season.
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was a distant third with 161 points (10 first-place votes).
Coaches were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote, and one point for each third-place vote from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.
In what he described as a dream job during his introductory presser, Thibodeau laboriously worked his magic on basically the same core from the previous regime.
In what was expected to be a season of just laying the foundation of rebuilding, the Knicks overachieved and was tied with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference (41-31) at the end of the regular season.
The Knicks not only snapped a seven-year playoff drought. They hosted a first-round series, albeit losing 4-1 to the much talented Atlanta Hawks.
Thibodeau was also selected as the NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for May after guiding the Knicks to a 6-3 record in the final month of the regular season.
The Knicks won 16 of their final 20 games to complete the magical turnaround from last season’s 21-45 record. Under Thibodeau’s watch, New York also enjoyed its winningest month since March 2014 (11-5).
The Knicks embraced Thibodeau’s hard coaching and mirrored their coach on the court. Thibodeau’s signature defense became their bread and butter, showing dramatic improvement in points allowed (104.7) and opponents’ field goal percentage (44.0) and ranking fourth in defensive rating (107.8). Last season, New York finished 17th or lower in all three categories.
Thibodeau was also able to develop Julius Randle into one of the league’s rising stars — a first-time NBA All-Star and the Most Improved Player of the Year.
Derrick Rose, a mid-season acquisition, also became a finalist for the NBA Sixth Man Award in his third reunion with Thibodeau.
RJ Barrett also hit his strides under his watch as the former third overall pick ranked as the fourth-leading scorer among second-year NBA players (17.6 ppg). Thibodeau also had an impact on rookie Immanuel Quickley who turned out to be a steal with the 25th overall pick after averaging 11.4 points.
Thibodeau has now his eyes set on building the momentum with hopefully more talent to work with next season. The Knicks have roughly $50 million in cap space and massive draft capital to upgrade the Randle-led roster this summer.
Two years ago, a man named Joe opened a campaign that ran on change and reform. Today, he’s at the helm of one of the most renowned, yet volatile, systems in the world and trying to get his constituents back on track in the face of an ongoing crisis.
On this day two years ago, Joe Douglas became general manager of the New York Jets.
Douglas inherited a ghastly gridiron crunch from Mike Maccagnan after the latter’s shocking post-draft firing in 2019. The Jets were in the midst of an eight-year playoff drought and hadn’t had a winning record since 2015, the first year of Maccagnan’s star-crossed term.
Two years later, however, much hasn’t changed in terms of on-field numbers. Douglas has overseen a mere nine wins over two seasons (besting only Detroit, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati) and saw the franchise plunge to new single-season lows last season through a 2-14 ledger. Even though they bested the single win of Rich Kotite’s doomed group in 1996, the Jets endured a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak to open the year, leading Douglas to start almost entirely from scratch in 2021. The playoff drought has been extended to a decade, the longest active streak in the NFL after Cleveland and Tampa Bay each earned postseason invites last winter.
In his brief time, Douglas has made several transactions that will affect the Jets’ future fortunes and perhaps his own metropolitan future. ESM looks back at the most impactful moves to date, for better and worse…
Better: The Drafting of Mekhi Becton
For his first draft pick at the helm of the Jets, Douglas opted to select Louisville tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall choice in the 2020 proceedings. There was no shortage of talent in the middle stages of the virtual draft’s opening night, as Henry Ruggs, Tristan Wirfs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson all heard their names called with the next eleven selections after Becton.
Analysis: For the time being, the draft of Becton is Douglas’ magnum opus. He made the selection in a thankless position: for every one fan/analyst/scout who wanted a blocker, there was another likely upset that Douglas passed on the plethora of receiving talent available in the slot. But after Becton served as a rare silver lining in Adam Gase’s dirge, Douglas publicly declared that he would base future decisions around Becton.
“I think he’s a player that is going to help us long-term,” Douglas said in November, per Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated. “We’re excited about working with him every day because you talk about a young man that loves football. He’s very smart. He’s tough as nails and has rare size and athleticism. There’s a lot of desire from him to want to be the best player that he can be so we’ve made it our mission to bend over backward to try to help him reach his goals.”
The selection of Becton also snapped a dangerous streak in Jets history: he was the first opening-round offensive lineman chosen by the Jets since the legendary pairing of D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in 2006, ending a period of blocking negligence exacerbated not only by Maccagnan but by Mike Tannenbaum and John Idzik before him. Additionally, shrewd maneuvering by Douglas allowed the Jets to pick up a big-play receiver anyway, using a second-round choice on Baylor’s Denzel Mims.
Worse: The Veteran Building Block(er)s
Douglas’ blocking renovations didn’t begin with Becton. In the month before he scribbled Becton’s name onto a draft card, Douglas bestowed over $17 million in 2020 cap space to George Fant, Connor McGovern, and Greg Van Roten. When he took office during the summer of 2019, among his first moves were trading a late pick to Baltimore for Alex Lewis and convincing All-Pro Ryan Kalil to postpone his retirement.
Analysis: Douglas had the right idea: he wanted to stock up on blockers to help his pre-packaged franchise quarterback Sam Darnold out. Alas, the moves he made only hastened the end of the Darnold era.
Part of the issues stems from Douglas signing the wrong names. Jack Conklin was reportedly interested in coming aboard (and Le’Veon Bell pleaded for the Jets to sign his fellow Michigan State alum on Twitter), but he instead embarked on an All-Pro season in Cleveland. Worse yet, the consolation prizes caused the Jets to neglect other areas of need, namely the weaponry necessary for Darnold to succeed. Luring Amari Cooper over from Dallas was probably always a pipe dream, but they missed out on serviceable parts like Emmanuel Sanders. They also made little effort to retain Robby Anderson, who went on to post career-best numbers in Carolina.
In the absence of marquee blocking signing, the Jets were forced to make do with washouts from first rounds past (Breshad Perriman) as well as former Patriots without the Belichick touch (Chris Hogan). The tough luck created a football situation where no good Douglas deed went unpunished.
Too Soon: The Jamal Adams Trade
Once it became clear that Adams, the face of the franchise during the Maccagnan era, wanted out of New York it was on Douglas to somehow salvage the situation. Adams didn’t make things easier by telling metropolitan horror stories any chance he could. Despite Adams’ tales, Douglas eventually worked out a deal with Seattle in August 2020. The deal netted two first-round picks, a third-round pick, and veteran cornerback Bradley McDougald.
Analysis: It’s hard to fully analyze the Adams trade as there are still lingering aftershocks in the 2022 draft; the Jets own Seattle’s first-round choice while the Seahawks own a metropolitan fourth-round pick.
As of this moment, a lot of the Adams fallout has shifted toward the Jets’ favor. While McDougald partook in only seven games and doesn’t appear to be heading back (continuing a disturbingly common trend of Douglas’ veteran acquisitions not panning out), the Jets used the Seattle capital to bolster their offensive line, trading the 2021 first-rounder to Minnesota that led to a move up the draft board for Alijah Vera-Tucker. The fact that Adams’ cantankerousness followed him to the Pacific Northwest…he has yet to sign a long-term deal…only further shifts the current lead in the Jets’ direction.
There’s no use in grading the trade when several major names from it haven’t played a single regular season down yet. But the fact that Douglas turned a disgruntled superstar into a landmark blocker and a first-round pick to be named later is an inspiring sign. The same philosophy could apply to the trade that sent Darnold to Carolina, a deal that saw Douglas land a second-round choice (in 2022) for a quarterback that has yet to post a passer rating above 85 or throw more than 20 touchdown passes.
Better: Franchise Tagging Marcus Maye
Both the SEC and the earlier days of the 2017 draft are still represented in the Jets’ secondary through the prescience of Marcus Maye. The Florida alum was bestowed the franchise tag in the early stages of the 2021 offseason, a move that makes him the 10th-highest-paid safety in the league in 2021 (over $10.6 million guaranteed).
Analysis: After the Adams debacle, Douglas had to carefully navigate the situation with Maye. The Florida alum was close with Adams and was one of the few name-brand talents leftover once Adams and Anderson donned new helmets. For all intents and purposes, things have gone well in the early going. Maye, who at the very least made sure the Jets appeared in the SportsCenter Top 10, earned a sizable new contract while Douglas and Co. bought some time for Maye to further consider New York and set the table for an affordable long-term deal.
While Maye appears to be holding out of offseason activities, possibly until he gets that longer contract, the conversations surround him inspire hope and optimism, unlike last year’s melancholy Adams situation.
“Marcus Maye fits every system and he’ll be just fine,” new head coach Robert Saleh said in a report from Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I think these kids have earned the right to ask for whatever they can, especially when they do things the right way like he has. Joe and his staff are working relentlessly to get something done. We go with it and we support him all around the organization.”
Worse: Putting Up with Adam Gase
Douglas took over the Jets at an interesting, if not contemptuous, point on the Jets timeline. His immediate predecessor was not Maccagnan, but rather Adam Gase, who more or less won a battle of wills to remain in New York. Gase was granted interim general managing duties after Maccagnan was let go and was maintained as the head coach upon Douglas’ arrival. He would last two seasons at the helm before Douglas dismissed him, paving the way for Saleh’s hire.
Analysis: The Jets were able to mask a 1-7 start in Gase’s first year at the helm by winning six of their final eight games (mostly against competition equally, if not more, doomed). But an even more brutal start in year two…one that saw the Jets lose their first six games by multiple possessions…should’ve been all the evidence that Gase wasn’t going to be the one to lead New York to the promised land.
Sure, it had been a while since the Jets executed an in-season firing (with Charley Winner getting ousted for Ken Shipp in 1975), but early firings have become more common in today’s NFL. A playoff berth in year one couldn’t save Ben McAdoo with New York’s blue squad. Steve Wilks was granted only one year in Arizona once it became clear they could get Kliff Kingsbury. It’s not like Douglas wasn’t afraid to pull the plug on others; the Jets instituted an early-season fire sale that bid farewell to Bell, Steve McLendon, and Avery Williamson. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was likewise given the boot after his infamous blitz against Las Vegas cost the Jets their first win of 2020.
To make matters worse, once Gase couldn’t even take advantage of the macabre gift of consequence-free football that could’ve been used as research and development for the future. For example, he chose to give Frank Gore a retirement tour instead of giving young projects like La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams a chance. Letting Gase finish out the season helped offseason questions linger and kept the Jets on a path of uncertainty.
Too Soon: The San Francisco Treats
With the eventual purge of Gase and his coaching staff (save for the apparently immortal Brant Boyer) and the drafting of Zach Wilson, Douglas now officially has his signature on this team. The process will now be overseen on a day-to-day basis by a staff headed by Saleh and fellow former 49er Mike LaFleur, who is tasked with awakening an anemic New York offense.
Analysis: It’s foolhardy to grade any transaction without a single down of evidence, so the jury is obviously still out on Saleh. It’s an interesting approach for the Jets to take, for the Jets to go with a defensive-minded boss in an NFL landscape that increasingly favorites the offense (whether it’s inadvertent or not). It’s also somewhat surprising to see them hire a first-time head coach for a team full of unproven misfit toys. Time will tell how the gambit, similar to the Todd Bowles hire in 2015, plays out.
Having said that, the ultimate difference between the Gase and Saleh hires is who is praising the hire. When Gase arrived, it was praised mostly by the hot take artists like Colin “2020 AFC championship tickets at MetLife Stadium” Cowherd. This time, however, the Jets’ hire has been praised by on-field talent both domestically and abroad.
Much like the hire on this day two days ago…a hire where Douglas was plucked from a Philadelphia squad still celebrating its Super Bowl…Jets fans are filled with hope. But hope can only take you so far…it’s time to perform and find results, through, and in spite of, these moves.
The New York Mets roster is riddled with injuries, but they somehow keep finding ways to win games. Jacob deGrom and Pete Alonso came back during the road trip; who else is close to joining them back on the big league roster?
Luis Guillorme is probably the next Met to return from the IL after over two months on the sidelines with a strained oblique. While Jonathan Villar and Jose Peraza have been serviceable with the bat, Guillorme’s return brings elite defense back to the infield. Guillorme was a modest 6-for-18 before his injury and should get plenty of playing time when he returns.
J.D. Davis has quickly become a forgotten man thanks to his sprained middle finger on his left hand. He is still wearing a split and is not close to restarting his rehab. Davis has been out since May 1 and was one of the most productive Mets hitters before the injury. He was hitting .390 with two home runs and seven RBIs, and there is still no timetable for his return.
Brandon Nimmo is also dealing with a hand issue, but his is a bone bruise on his finger. Nimmo has begun to swing lightly but is not close to game action. He could not hit off a tee or take soft toss because of the bruised finger, which still leaves his return to action as an unknown.
Albert Almora Jr. is nearing a rehab assignment as he works back from a shoulder contusion he suffered when running into the Citi Field wall on May 11. Even when healthy, Almora’s days could be numbered if they feel Billy McKinney is worth holding on to over him.
Michael Conforto took batting practice on Saturday, which is a very encouraging sign after his hamstring injury on May 16. His timetable to return is still closer to the end of June, and the Mets would be glad to welcome back his bat. Conforto was hitting just .230 but had a .356 on-base percentage before landing on the IL.
Jeff McNeil is also dealing with a strained hamstring and could begin a rehab assignment this week. McNeil batted just .242 before his injury, but his versatility to play different positions will be needed once he is healthy again.
Tommy Hunter is dealing with a back issue and still has no timetable for his return. He was a key member of the bullpen for a short time when he was healthy. Hunter pitched eight shutout innings over four games, working as an opener once.
Johneshwy Fargas is “feeling better” but still has not done much rehab for his shoulder injury. Fargas is another player who could be without a roster spot once he is healthy.
See You Soon?
Noah Syndergaard has been shut down for six weeks, which means he will not pick up a baseball again until July. Syndergaard had inflammation in his right elbow after making a couple of rehab outings. The news is devastating for a pitching start that is always missing multiple key arms.
Carlos Carrasco is one of those critical arms the Mets are missing and is quickly becoming the pitching version of Jed Lowrie. A combination of elbow soreness and hamstring issues have significantly slowed down his rehab assignment. Carrasco was pitching 4-5 innings a month ago, and then his injuries forced the Mets to shut him down. At this point, we may see Syndergaard return to the Citi Field mound before Carrasco makes his debut.
Two years ago, the New York Knicks were the butt of the joke for trading away a rising star Kristaps Porzingis.
The Dallas Mavericks won the trade via landslide in the eyes of the majority. But after watching Porzingis turned into the most expensive role player in the league during the playoffs, it appears the former Knicks’ regime had the right foresight.
For two years, Porzingis has failed miserably to live up to the expectations that came with the $158 million contract extension he signed with the Mavericks after the trade. His health and diminishing on-court production has raised more concerns than playoff success for the Mavericks.
After averaging just 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in another Dallas’ first-round exit this season, Porzingis sounded as disgruntled as he was in New York.
“Good question,” Porzingis told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon on how does he feel about his fit with the franchise moving forward.
“How do I feel? I mean, I’m good. I tried to put in the work, tried to work hard. I do my part, listen to the coaches, what I’m asked to do, and that’s it. I try to keep it simple for myself so I’m not overthinking, and I try to focus on what I can control. That’s being a better basketball player, going into the offseason hungry. I want to get better physically [and] on the basketball court. I’m going to put that work in to get better, and then the rest of the stuff will resolve itself.”
For Porzingis, it’s simple. But for the Mavericks, it’s a complex one.
It’s the same question that the Knicks have correctly answered in the past.
Porzingis may have cost Dallas just a few expendable players and picks that nowhere near the top of the Lottery in that trade, but the big contract they gave Porzingis is now considered around the league as an albatross according to an ESPN report.
Tim Hardaway, Jr., viewed as a throw-in in the Porzingis deal, has played better than Porzingis. But the Mavericks may not afford him after going all-in with Porzingis and with Doncic’s supermax extension looming on the horizon.
While the Knicks missed out on superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which is why they made the swing in the first place, the consolation prize, which turned out to be Julius Randle and significant cap space, roughly $50 million, this summer wasn’t that bad at all.
Randle’s All-Star and Most Improved Player rise this season fueled the Knicks’ rebuild that reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The Knicks were also able to flip Dennis Smith Jr. into half-season of Derrick Rose’s magical renaissance. They have also used that cap space to rent Marcus Morris last season and converted him into Draft steal Immanuel Quickley.
The Knicks could still use the Mavericks picks (21st in this year’s Draft and a top-10 protected first-round pick in 2023) they got from the Porzingis’ deal to acquire a star or another solid core piece via trade.
It’s working out well for the Knicks. Not so much for the Mavericks, who paid a premium for a unicorn that has turned out to be an albatross.
Two years since the trade, the tables have been turned. The Knicks have transformed into a franchise on the rise while Porzingis became the butt of the joke.
The start of the 2021 season was nightmarish for New York Mets’ shortstop Francisco Lindor. Signed to a $341 million contract extension, he had the expectations of a highly demanding fanbase on his shoulder, and as a newcomer still getting to know the city, the team, and the fans, it proved, for a couple of months, too much to handle.
Lindor struggled mightly to open the season. Just a few days ago, his batting average was below the Mendoza line and he was struggling to generate any power. He kept hitting the ball hard and taking his walks, but a problem with ground balls affected him for weeks.
On May 5, the Mets’ star was batting .157 with a .276 on-base percentage and just two extra-base hits. His slugging percentage was .202. He had only on homer and was on an 0-for-26 slump, arguably the worst of his career.
The Mets are pleased with his progress
Thankfully for the Mets, he has come a long way since then, and while his batting average currently sits at .218, he now looks like vintage Francisco Lindor.
According to MLB.com, Lindor has a .280/.342/.480 line in his last 26 games, with 11 extra-base hits, four home runs, and 10 RBI for the Mets. That’s more like it, and that’s what the Mets paid for before the start of the campaign.
“I’m very encouraged,” Lindor said about his recent performance. “I feel good. I finally have some success on my side. Hopefully, I continue this to help the team win.”
During the offseason, the New York Yankees committed to pay infielder DJ LeMahieu $90 million over the course of the next six years. He was a free agent and the Bombers made retaining him a priority.
They did it because he had produced fantastic numbers over two years with the Yankees. In 2019, the veteran had a .327/.375/.518 line with 26 homers, 106 runs, and 102 RBI, and last season, he hit .364/.421/.590 in 2020, when he was crowned as MLB’s batting champion.
This year, though, LeMahieu has slumped all the way to a .253/.335/.321 line, with only three home runs and a putrid .068 isolated power after finishing with .226 in 2020 and .191 two years prior.
What has happened with the Yankees’ offensive machine? For starters, his average exit velocity is almost two mph lower this year, with 89.8, than 2020 (91.3) and 2019 (91.9). His hard-hit rate (percentage of times he has hit a ball at 95 mph or higher) is 42.7, three percentage points lower than the 45.7 he had in 2020.
But the main problem, and one that actually presented itself last year even when he was making the most of his batted ball quality, is ground balls. He hit 2.68 grounder per every fly ball last campaign, and he hasn’t been much better this year at 2.33.
The Yankees machine hasn’t been producing
In his first season with the Yankees, 2019, LeMahieu had a 1.91 GB/FB rate, which is still high, but much more palatable. Ground balls are the worst possible outcome when it comes to making contact, and LeMahieu is not lifting the ball.
Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone seems to think LeMahieu is close to a breakthrough. “There’s been times, especially over the last 10 days or two weeks, where he’s hit into some tough luck and I feel like he’s really close with this flat swing and getting some good swings off,” Boone told reporters, per NJ Advance Media.
Luck is, in fact, another factor. Last year he got lucky (.429 wOBA vs. .361 xwOBA) and this year, he has been unlucky (.295 wOBA vs. .329 xwOBA). These things usually even out over time.
It remains to be seen if LeMahieu can regain his 2020, or even 2019 form. But he has a long way to go.
Last night we saw the boxing exhibition between Floyd Mayweather (50-0) and Logan Paul (0-1). The two men stepped foot in the squared circle and went eight rounds with each other. There were a lot of big shots thrown, but no knockdowns occurred during the boxing matchup.
Logan Paul held his own, but Floyd Mayweather landed more punches throughout the exhibition. Since the fight was not officially sanctioned, there was no winner declared after the eight rounds was over. However, if there would’ve been one, Floyd Mayweather would’ve gotten the nod.
However, it was a huge moral victory for Logan Paul to have gone eight full rounds with the boxing legend. Mayweather hit Paul with some big shots throughout the night, but Logan Paul was game and never backed down.
Throughout the last week, Mayweather left the door open for more boxing matches. He even mentioned that he would be interested in another boxing matchup against former UFC champion Conor McGregor. However, Mayweather changed his tune after last night’s matchup.
Mayweather retires from Boxing
When asked about a future return to boxing, Mayweather said, “Absolutely not, I’m retired from the sport of boxing. I said this before, it’s not easy. I mean even for this fight. Train a day, take a couple of days, train a day, take a couple of days off because of the age and the wear and tear.”
With those comments, it’s safe to say that the 44 year old won’t even entertain a boxing exhibition in the future. Mayweather cashed out with a cool $100 million for his matchup with Logan Paul last night.
Last night was far from a bad night for Mayweather. He was only hit clean once or twice, but you could tell he wasn’t the same guy. The speed really wasn’t there and things were not as crisp. However, that’s to be expected when you’re 44 years old.
If a prime Floyd Mayweather was boxing last night, Logan Paul would’ve likely been finished. However, that’s not what we saw. We saw one of the greats go out there and compete in boxing, but it was clear that he’s not the same guy he used to be.
With the New York Yankees‘ disastrous homestand going 2-5, they have dug themselves into a hole that is becoming increasingly more difficult to climb out of. If the Yankees can climb out, each new series becomes even more important that they take that series. One-third of the season’s games have already been played, and the Yankees after this homestand have slipped back to fourth place 6 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays.
The problem for the New York Yankees is simple yet perplexing. What was projected as one of the strongest lineups in baseball can’t consistently hit the ball, hits too many ground balls that lead to double plays, and not enough home runs that they are known for. When they do hit, they leave too many runners on the bases. Of the 20 players that have been in the lineup, 10 of them have batting averages below .200 and none above .300.
So far, the Yankees starting rotation and the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, which is the only reason they are not at the bottom of the American League. But even that may be in jeopardy with the loss of Corey Kluber to the 60 day IL and the now wearing out of the bullpen. In addition, the Yankees hitting that now stands at the bottom of stat categories have got to turn things around and start hitting sooner than later. They will try to do that on this road trip. They will first face the Minnesota Twin for 3 games, the Philadelphia Phillies for 2 games, and end the road trip at Buffalo with 3 games against the Toronto Blue Jays.
The New York Yankees are 31-29 in fourth place in the AL East. The Minnesota Twins are 24-35, sharing the bottom of the AL Central with the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees suffer from underperforming hitters; the Twins suffer from everything, nagging injuries, and the worst bullpen in baseball.
Tuesday, June 8th, 8:10 pm:
The first time the New York Yankees face the Minnesota Twin this season will be on Tuesday. The Yankees’ Jordan Montgomery will face off against the Twins’ ex-Yankee Michael Pineda. Montgomery is 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA over 11 games this season with a strikeout per inning. In his last outing against the Tampa Bay Rays, he threw a season-high 99 pitches, giving up just one earned run in the Yankee 4-3 win. He allowed five hits while striking out six Rays.
Montgomery will face Michael Pineda, who was with the Yankees from 2014 to 2017. Pineda was originally slated to start Sunday against the Royals, but forearm tightness for the right-hander ultimately led the Twins to move him to Tuesday. Pineda shouldn’t face any major limitations when he returns to the rotation. Pineda is 3-3 with an ERA of .3.40 ERA. He is coming off on June 1st, when he lasted only three innings, giving up five runs.
Wednesday, June 9th, 8:10 pm:
The Yankees will start their ace, Gerrit Cole, on Wednesday. He is 6-3 with an ERA of 2.26 and an incredible 104 strikeouts. Cole has been the best Yankee pitcher this season but has shown some cracks in his last two games. He is coming off a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays; he gave up a season-high five runs. In his last four starts, he is 1-2 with an uncustomary 4.30 ERA. Cole, like all of the Yankee pitchers, has suffered from a lack of run support.
Cole will face the Twins’ Randy Dobnak, a righty that is 1-5 with an elevated 6.19 ERA. The Yankees have seen the rookie before in the 2019 ALDS that the Yankees won. An injury to Kenta Maeda has moved Dobnak into his fourth start of the season. In his first start against the Royals, he took the loss; in his second start on May 21 against the Indians, he got his first win. He is coming off a May 27 loss to the Kansas City Royals when he gave up 6 runs in 6 innings.
Thursday, June 10, 8:10 pm:
The New York Yankees pitcher that has yet to be announced will face another ex-Yankee in J.A. Happ, 3-2 with an ERA of 5.61. Happ was with the Yankees for three seasons, including last year when the Yankees did not offer to keep him in pinstripes. May has not been kind to Happ; he will be looking for his first quality start since April 28. He has a 10.17 ERA across his last five appearances. His last start was at Kansas City, when he pitched five innings, giving up five earned runs. The Yankee starter will likely be Deivi Garcia or Michael King.
All of these games will be televised on the YES Network and Bally Sports North. After this series, the Yankees will move on to Joe Girardi’s Phillies.
The New York Yankees have lost their last four games and are currently experiencing one of the lower points of the 2021 season, as they now sit just two games above .500. In the AL East, they have dropped down to fourth place, 6.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in first. Even the Toronto Blue Jays have overtaken them by .5 games, so unless the offense can pick up the slack, the Yankees could find themselves floundering and gasping for air.
However, it never helps when the umpiring is lackluster, as the team experienced in Sunday’s defeat against Boston. Tied 4-4 the ninth-inning, the Yankees had runners on first and third base with Rougned Odor at the plate. With a full count, home plate umpire Gabe Morales called one of the most egregious strike threes I’ve seen in quite a while.
Not only was the ball off the plate, but it also missed by at least 4 inches, which is a significant margin of error in baseball. The Yankees had been pushing for another run, as Gleyber Torres previously tied the game with an RBI double that drove in Aaron Judge. This was a fantastic opportunity for the Yankees to close out the last game of a three-game series and walk away with a victory, but they were thrown under the bus instead.
Even YES Network’s Michael Kay had some harsh things to say about the umpiring during the series:
I think it’s tiring when losses are blamed on umpires calls because there is so much that goes on before and usually after but the strike 3 call on Odor was inexcusable and disgraceful. To make that call on national TV in the bottom of the ninth is ineptitude at its finest.
Good news and bad news for the Yankees:
Focusing more on the performance rather than the awful calls from Morales, the Yankees only managed five runs, four of which came in regular play. They did record 11 hits on the evening, with the top of their order doing the most damage, collecting eight hits in the first five batters.
This was a back-and-forth game throughout, as both teams traded blows until Boston eventually took a late lead in the tenth inning after Xander Bogaerts singled to deep center, driving in two runs.
As for the pitching, Domingo German lasted 5.2 innings and allowed just one run, lowering his ERA to 3.12. Unfortunately, Lucas Luetge allowed two runs over 1.1 innings, and Luis Cessa blew the game in the 10th. The relief pitching has been solid this season, and it’s nice to see German taking a step forward and providing consistency in the starter’s role. Without Corey Kluber, the Yankees needed somebody to step up, and German is doing exactly that at the right time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to extract a victory in this extra-innings loss, but once the Yankee offense begins to provide consistency, we should expect a healthy string of victories.