New York Giants: Offensive line had worst hurry rate in league for 2020

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

A lot has been spoken about the New York Giants offensive line already. In particular, the offensive line is frequently brought up after losses as one of the main contributing factors. It’s not without reason. While some of Daniel Jones’ struggles come from decision making or ball security, some of them stem from the simple fact that, like Eli Manning at the end of his career, Jones often doesn’t get much time to throw the ball.

That hypothesis has made the rounds in Giants conversations since Jones came into the league, but most of the time, there’s no solid statistics backing it up. Sure, one could say Jones is sacked more than other quarterbacks. But sacks aren’t always the fault of the offensive line.

Now, however, next gen statistics are telling a more specific story.

Daniel Jones was the most hurried quarterback

The Giants offensive line was dead last in the league last year when it came to hurry rate. That’s to say, Daniel Jones (or in the case of a few games, Colt McCoy), was the likeliest quarterback in the league to get hurried on his passes because of the offensive line breaking down and allowing pass rushers through.

This will still be a concern this season as the Giants have focused on upgrading other needed areas instead of the offensive line, but Giants fans can at least take comfort in the fact that last year’s draft pick Andrew Thomas only started coming into his own later in the season and will likely have a better start in 2021 compared to last year.

But with statistics like this one existing, and the Giants returning an offensive line made of last year’s players minus Kevin Zeitler, it’s not all that surprising that some are still skeptical about this one part of the team.

New York Yankees Recap 6/19: Yankees have a gutsy comeback win in the Bronx

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees met up with the Oakland Athletics today at a hot and humid Yankee Stadium for the second game of the weekend series. Last night the Yankees lost to the A’s 5-3 in a hard-fought contest. Today Domingo German started against the A’s Chris Bassitt. Being the weekend and 100% capacity allowed, the Yankees were hoping for a big crowd at the Stadium in the Bronx. Yankee fans were delighted with an amazing comeback win for the Yankees 7-5.

With German on the mound to start the game, Mark Canah hit the first pitch for an out to left field. Tony Kemp went into the short porch at the Stadium for a solo shot. Matt Olsen popped out, and Mitch Moreland struck out swinging to end the half. At the bottom, DJ LeMahieu flew out to right. Aaron Judge scorched one to center, but Kemp caught it on a dive. Gary Sanchez hitting third for the first time since 2019, struck out on a questionable high ball. Athletics 1 Yankees 0.

The top of the second was led off by Matt Chapman, who struck out swinging. Sean Murphy also struck out swinging. Seth Brown got a single just over the head of Odor. Chad Pinder struck out for German’s third strikeout of the inning. At the bottom, Giancarlo Stanton got a lead-off walk. Gleyber Torres singled to right, moving Stanton to second. Gio Urshela hit into a double play caused by splinters from his broken-bat, blinding him. Stanton went to third. Rougie Odor flew out, so the Yankees, with men on first and second and no outs, failed to score. A’s 1 Yankees 0.

Elvis Andrus led off the third inning by lining in front of Frazier to a single. Andrus stole second. Canha ground out to short, Andrus went to third. Kemp ground out. Olson flew out to Frazier in left to end the half. Clint Frazier led off the bottom by striking out. Gardner popped out to the left infield. LeMahieu ground out to allow three scoreless innings for Bassitt. A’s 1 New York Yankees 0.

Moreland led off the top of the fourth, and he struck out swinging for German’s 5th strikeout of the game. Chapman homered to the right-field bullpen. Murphy walked. Brown went down on strikes. Pinder with one on and two outs ground out to short. At the bottom of the fourth, Aaron Judge led off by singling to center. Sanchez had a towering out to center. Judge advanced to second of a wild pitch. Stanton walked for the second time in the game. Torres, with two on and only one out, popped out to the infield. Urshela hit up the middle as Judge scored to put the Yankees on the board. Odor, with two on and two outs, struck out. Athletics 2 Yankees 1.

To lead off the fifth, Andrus singled, Canha singled. Kemp walked to load the bases with no outs. Olson, with 19 home runs on the season, singled, driving in two runs, and Kemp going to third. Now he struck out with men on the corners, and the new pitcher Nestor Cortes faced pinch hitter Laureano. Chapman also struck out. Murphy flew out as Cortes limited the damage. Frazier led off the bottom by doubling off the left-field fence, falling short of a home run. Gardner struck out. LeMahieu ground out to third. Judge struck out, stranding Frazier at second. Athletics 4 Yankees 1.

Brown led off the sixth by flying out to left field. Pinder lined out to Frazier. Andrus flew out to Gardner in left-center for a 1-2 3 inning for Cortes Jr. Gary Sanchez led off the bottom of the sixth by hitting a home run, his 6th in his last 19 games. Stanton singled. Torres ground out, but Stanton went to second. Urshela struck out swinging. Odor struck out to strand Stanton. Athletics 4 Yankees 2.

To lead off, Canha struck out. Kemp ground out. Olson singled. Laureano walked. Chapman stuck out as Cortes did a superb job for the Yankees. Frazier faced the new A’s pitcher Burch Smith, and he doubled for the second time in the game. Gardner trying to continue the rally, had an infield fly out. LeMahieu, with one on and one out, ground out to second. Aaron Judge singled driving in Stanton from third. Sanchez, with one on and two outs, drew a walk. With two on and two outs, Stanton faced the new A’s pitcher Yusmeiro Petit singled to drive in Judge and tie the game up at 4. Torres ground out, but the Yankees came all the way back to tie up the game. New York Yankees 4 Oakland A’s 4.

The top of the eighth saw Chad Green on the mound facing Murphy, who struck out. Brown struck out. Pinder stuck out looking as Green struck out the side. At the bottom of the eighth, Urshela homered for his 9th of the year and provided the Yankees the go-ahead run. Gittens pinch-hitting walked. Clint Frazier walked. Brett Gardner bunted out, but the runners advanced to second and third. The A’s brought out another pitcher, Sergio Romo; he faced DJ LeMahieu, who singled, driving in two runs for the 7-4 Yankee lead. Aaron Judge at the plate LeMahieu got picked off at first. Judge ground out to end the inning, but the Yankees scored 3 runs to go ahead of the A’s. New York Yankees 7 and the Oakland A’s 4.

With last licks on the line for Oakland, closer Aroldis Chapman took to the mound to face Andrus, who struck out swinging. Canha walked on two bad calls, and Boone argued and got thrown out of the game. The computer showed that both pitches were strikes. Jed Lowrie pinch-hitting flew out to Judge. Matt Olsen singled when Chapman dropped the ball at first. Laureano, the tying run, singled, driving in Canha. Now Chapman against Chapman, he struck out on a 103 mph fastball from Aroldis Chapman.

The final score was the New York Yankees 7 the Oakland Athletics 5. The winning pitcher was Chad Green, the loser Jesus Luzardo. The save went to Aroldis Chapman as the Yankees beat the number two team in baseball.

 

New York Jets: The fullback experiment set to continue for Trevon Wesco

trevon wesco, new york jets

Some of the more potent offenses in the NFL still feature a fullback. The New York Jets appear to be turning to Wesco to try it again.

Though hope reigns through newcomers, the New York Jets are in no position to turn down any method of boosting their offensive momentum…even if the potential approaches are considered archaic by NFL standards.

The fullback is an endangered species in the modern league, as the days of Mike Alstott and Daryl Johnston have gone the way of the Oilers and the tuck rule. Causes of the countdown to potential extinction have never been truly isolated, though the rise of single-back sets and empty backfields in the shotgun has more or less convinced teams that offensive resources are better spent on receivers and blockers.

But there’s no denying that the fullback still has a role in today’s game and can play an active role in a good team’s success. Several successful squads, including Super Bowl participants, still have a specifically listed fullback on their roster.

That made it a tad more surprising that the Jets didn’t make a stronger push for Kyle Juszczyk, the Bay Area staple that stands as the NFL’s premier fullback. It probably would’ve taken a lot for the Jets to lure Juszczyk over. Juszczyk’s five-year, $27 million contract was one of the first deals announced at the commencement of the movement period, done even before the legal tampering period got underway. But considering the Jets brought several former San Francisco 49er bosses (including Juszczyk’s old offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur), it was still somewhat surprising not to see a larger New York case made.

Even so, the Jets can use all the protection and weaponry they can get, especially with yet another franchise quarterback, Zach Wilson, on the path to his NFL debut. A fullback can provide both, even in its unsung status, though it has been a while since they fully utilized the position. The closest thing the Jets have had to consistent glory days were earned with a fullback in tow. Richie Anderson was a metropolitan essential for a decade while Tony Richardson ended his accomplished NFL career with the Jets’ AFC finalist squads in 2009-10.

New York’s offensive bosses appear to have taken the hint.

“You like to have a fullback. You like to be in those traditional 21-personnel formations. It just keeps the defense balanced a little bit more,” LaFleur said at the end of this week’s minicamp activities, per notes from the Jets. “You can go lead their way so you can control the angles, particularly in the run game and obviously all the play passes that come off of it. (Juszczyk) was the traditional fullback, there’s no doubt, and he’s obviously performed at a high level, maybe one of the best ever, who knows. He’s certainly gotten paid like the best ever, and I love Juice, so he deserves all of it.”

But there’s no use crying about the past. Excuses, after all, don’t exactly have a place in head coach Robert Saleh’s quickly-adapted “all gas, no brake” mantra, nor does looking back at the past. After all, the Jets mostly avoided getting the San Francisco band back together. A major exception was made through running back Tevin Coleman, but the only other Santa Clara holdovers (receiver Matt Cole and running back Austin Walter) face uphill battles to make the roster.

Even if on-field personnel from San Francisco won’t be making the journies to Florham Park and East Rutherford, LaFleur and the new offensive staff won’t hesitate to employ similar looks in their new surroundings.

If LaFleur’s final statements of training camp are any indication, expect the Trevon Wesco experiment to continue behind Wilson. Modern fullback endeavors have often substituted a bred fullback for a tight end, offensive lineman, or even linebacker to play the role. It appears that the Jets plan to utilize the 267-pound Wesco to establish the role again.

Surprisingly, LaFleur has worked with Wesco before, even though their paths never crossed in San Francisco. The 49ers’ staff served as the coaches for the South squad in the 2019 Senior Bowl, where Wesco represented West Virginia. He was used as a fullback throughout the afternoon, earning three receptions in a 34-24 defeat to the North. Three months later, the Jets made him the 121st overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

“We played him a little bit at fullback and got to know him,” LaFleur recalled. “He was really the same guy there as he is here in terms of his personality. He’s a very confident dude, he loves being out there and yes, he is our fullback right now.”

Wesco is no stranger to the fullback experiment, as the Jets have tried to work him into the role over the past two seasons. The fourth-round selection burst onto the scene with a memorable showing in a rare regular season contest against the Giants. A fullback dive to Wesco on a one-yard fourth down produced a first down and kept an eventual Jets scoring drive going. He’d later go on to recover a backfield fumble the following week in Washington. Wesco likewise earned two reception in more traditional tight end duties, each of which went for first downs.

Last season’s fieldwork didn’t go so well. Wesco got only a single carry, an unsuccessful third-and-one carry deep in Arizona Cardinal territory. The project was more or less shut down when Wesco suffered an ankle injury in practice, but it’s clear that LaFleur wants to reestablish it. It could wind up being the way that Wesco plays his way onto the Jets’ Week 1 roster. Doing so as a tight end is a less certain endeavor with former Buffalo Bill Tyler Kroft added to the proceedings.

Wesco was downright euphoric when discussing his duties as a fullback with team reporter Randy Lange last season.

“I like it,” the former Mountaineer said. “You’ve got to be a man to be back there, that’s how I look at it. Not a lot of people want to run five yards, full speed, collision.”

August’s training camp, as well as a trio of exhibition games, should help the Jets further establish the offensive identity they’re pursuing. LaFleur admits that Wesco probably isn’t going to be the next Juszczyk…then again, that might not even exist…but he sees him as a prime spark that can ignite the Jets’ offensive fire.

The Jets, according to LaFleur, don’t need another Kyle Juszczyk. He says that Wesco’s size (over 25 pounds heavier than “Juice”) could in fact allow LaFleur and his staff to accomplish things he wasn’t able to in San Francisco.

“Is he going to do all the same stuff that (Juszczyk) could do? Probably not. Is he going to do some stuff that (Juszczyk) couldn’t do? Absolutely,” LaFleur said. “He’s a bigger body, he’s longer. He’s going to be able to play a little bit more inline, so we can use him in multiple ways, whether it be 21 or your typical 12 personnel formations. So, he’s embracing it.

“The fullback, kind of like our tight end, which obviously Wesco is a tight end, has a lot of moving parts and you’ve got to be able to process what’s going on post-snap and change direction, do all that kind of stuff. It’s going to be a challenge but he’s a guy that has done a really good job at it and it’ll be really cool when we put on the pads and get into training camp and preseason.”

Should the Jets continue to use Wesco as a fullback? Continue the conversation on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Knicks hope to find a ‘Terance Mann’ in NBA G League Elite Camp

Terance Mann not only propelled the Los Angeles Clippers to an improbable comeback win on Friday night but also provided a timely inspiration for 40 Draft prospects as the NBA G League Elite Camp begins Saturday in Chicago.

In 2019, Mann was one of the 11 prospects who advanced to the NBA Draft Combine after an impressive run in the NBA G League Elite Camp.

The New York Knicks had a chance to grab Mann after moving up from 55th to 47th pick in a trade with the Sacramento Kings with cash considerations. But instead of selecting the four-year standout out of Florida State University, the Knicks went with the one-and-done Ignas Brazdeikis of Michigan.

Brazdeikis never found his footing with the Knicks, while Mann is the man of the moment following his career-high 39-point explosion that helped the Clippers erase a 25-point deficit. Mann confidently stepped into Kawhi Leonard’s role in the starting lineup.

In a game where the stakes are high, and pressure was reaching its boiling point, Mann was never afraid of the big moments.

“When you trust your work, you trust in yourself. You’re not surprised when any of this happens,” Mann said.

The Knicks will be looking for that kind of mental fortitude as the new regime under team president Leon Rose evaluates prospects slotted towards the end of the Draft. There was no NBA G League Elite Camp last year due to the pandemic.

The Knicks have two second-round picks (32nd and 58th) in addition to their first-round picks (19th and 21st). They have wasted no time rounding up the less-heralded prospects in the past weeks in the hope of finding a diamond in the rough like Mann.

“The second round is where the real Draft begins. It’s where the intel and in-person workouts and interviews become really valuable. First-round and lottery talents usually stand out in the group. But second-round talents are trickier to evaluate,” a league scout told Empire Sports Media.

Three of the 40 hopefuls in the NBA G League Elite Camp have already completed their pre-Draft workout with the Knicks.

Texas Tech’s star Mac McClung, ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jose Alvarado from Georgia Tech, and Maryland’s dead-eye shooter Aaron Wiggins all had their workouts, Empire Sports Media has learned.

Unlike McClung, who has already decided to stay in the Draft, Alvarado and Wiggins have until July 7 to withdraw and return for another college season.

According to a source, Alvarado’s teammate and ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright has also secured a workout with the Knicks ahead of Monday’s NBA Draft Combine.

Meanwhile, Syracuse’s Alan Griffin also had his workout with the team last Wednesday, per Ian Begley of SNY. Alan is the son of former NBA player and current Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin.

The Knicks also invited AAC’s Co-Player of the Year Tyson Ettiene from Wichita State last Tuesday, according to Forbes’ Chris Grenham.

Among this group, only Wright had received an invitation to the NBA Draft Combine. Wright hopes to raise his Draft stocks after missing the NCAA tournament due to COVID-19.

None of these prospects are ranked in most outlets’ NBA Mock Drafts. But Mann’s success from an obscure prospect to a playoff hero gives them a blueprint.

Now it’s up to the Knicks to find out who is that Mann.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees: Good news and bad news in winning-streak snapping loss to Athletics

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

The New York Yankees fell to the Oakland Athletics on Friday after securing a three-game win streak, sweeping the Toronto Blue Jays. Against the Athletics, they allowed five runs and posted just three, as their offense fizzled out after a dominant recent stretch.

The Yankees only recorded four hits, striking out nine times as starting pitcher Jamison Taillon lasted 4.2 innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs. Surprisingly, this was one of his better outings, giving up a home run in the first inning and allowing another in the third. However, relief option Wandy Peralta allowed three hits and three runs over just 1.1 innings, allowing Oakland to walk away with a victory.

Oakland currently sits at 44-27 on the season, as the Yankees are just three games above .500 at 36-33.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

There wasn’t much good news to extract from the loss to Oakland, especially since the opposing pitcher, James Kaprielian, who was a former building block for the Yankees, played well over 4.2 innings.

Kaprielian lost in 5.2 innings, giving up three hits and three earned runs, but struck out seven batters in the process. As the Yankees’ former 2015 first-round selection, he’s currently hosting a 2.84 ERA in seven starts this season. Seemingly, he would’ve been an influential factor this year for the Yankees, who continuously have struggles in the starting pitching department.

“I”m not gonna lie. I was excited to be here,” said Kaprielian. “For so long, I envisioned myself pitching on that mound and wearing a different uniform. But the fact that I got to be here at all is special.”

Offensively, the Yankees are still struggling to remain consistent, as they sat catcher Gary Sanchez to give him a night off after a strong last few games. Sanchez has elevated his average to .228 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs this season. Over the last seven days, Sanchez has six hits and three homers over 20 at-bats. Unfortunately, they needed his offensive prowess during this contest but decided to give him a day off with his form in flux.

Knicks could have catalyst in prying Damian Lillard from Portland

damian lillard, new york knicks

Whether or not the Knicks walk away with a star player, they have the resources to finally upgrade the point guard position. Having churned through a variety of options over the past few years and an undying reliance on Frank Ntilikina to become “the guy,” it’s finally time to drop the cash on a big name.

However, there’s a big difference between landing Chris Paul and Lillard, considering one is 36 years old and looking for a three-year contract and the other is 30 years old in the middle of his prime coming off a season where he averaged 28.8 points and 7.5 rebounds.

While prying Lillard from the Trailblazers is unlikely, they do have one underrated asset that could play a significant role.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks could have a secret weapon in prying Lillard from Portland:

“The Knicks, desperate for a point guard, believe they have assets and cap space to make a trade for a star such as Lillard,” Berman wrote.

“In addition, Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant is a mentor of Lillard’s from their native Oakland, Calif. The Knicks have five first-round picks over the next three years. In the upcoming draft, they have three picks in the top 31 — including two first-rounders at 19 and 21.

“The Knicks are likely willing to include three first-round picks in a Lillard deal and have the cap space to make a transaction smoother mathematically.”

Johnnie Bryant could be the key in convincing Lillard to take his talents to the east coast, especially with the star PG stating his displeasure for the organization after an early exit in the post-season. Depending on who Portland selects for their new head coach, Lillard could either be more willing to depart from the team that drafted him back in 2012 or more inclined to stay.

Bryant, though, is the Assistant Head Coach, a significant role that gives him some power and pull in specific situations and regrading Lillard, he is absolutely a catalyst. Bryant hosted his own sports academy back in the day before joining the Utah Jazz, helping develop some of the best players in the league, including Lillard, Gordon Hayward, and Donovan Mitchell.

As a primary mentor for Lillard, the connection exists to plant the seed of change, but it’s still a bit premature to spark the full pursuit before Portland hires their next head coach.

Mets: Jacob deGrom suffered his shoulder injury while hitting

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Near the end of spring training, Zac Gallen suffered a hairline stress fracture at the radial head of his right (pitching) arm, and was sidelined for weeks. At the dawn of the campaign, Max Fried injured a hamstring while running the bases and was sent to the injured list. What does this have to do with the New York Mets and Jacob deGrom?

The Mets’ ace believes he suffered his latest injury, shoulder tightness, while hitting, on a swing. Most of us were confused, seeing him shake his arm after a pitch to Eric Sogard in the third inning of his last start, on Wednesday, but the pitcher himself thinks he got hurt whiffing on a Robert Stock fastball in the second frame.

He underwent an MRI on Thursday that showed nothing of concern, and he is already throwing and in line to start next week. According to MLB.com, the soreness is not uncommon for him, the only difference being that he felt it during a start and not after.

“I feel like if it’s anything serious, you can’t touch it [without pain],” deGrom told the Mets’ official site. “It normally gets sore there after I pitch, but not normally during a game. … [To feel it] midgame and then have it not go away, it’s not a normal time to get it. The first two innings, I felt completely fine. I think when I swung and missed up and away, I just aggravated it trying to slow the bat down and then I felt it when I was throwing.”

The Mets will go ahead and keep him in line to start

The Mets, seeing there is nothing too concerning about the situation, are keeping him under his normal in-between starts routine. He has the blessing of the team doctor and a third party to keep pitching.

The Mets’ ace played catch on Thursday and had a 10-pitch bullpen session on Friday. He will take the ball on Monday if all goes well. Manager Luis Rojas said the team is “approaching this day by day”.

The fact that deGrom hurt himself hitting should serve as a reminder that pitchers shouldn’t be batting at this point.

DeGrom has a .423 average and six RBI.

Yankees confidence has ‘grown as a group’ despite loss to the A’s in series opener

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees couldn’t extend their winning streak and fell to the Oakland A’s in an electric Yankee Stadium, 5-3. However, after staging three come-from-behind wins against Toronto in Buffalo earlier in the week, all of which the Bombers were losing in the seventh inning or later, the group’s overall confidence level has gone way up.

“I felt like we were going to come back, one way or another,” Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu said according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com. “We just couldn’t put much together, but I think our confidence has grown as a group, for sure, in those situations.”

LeMahieu, who is starting to heat up, homered in the defeat. The key moment was Wandy Peralta allowing a three-run home run to Tony Kemp in the sixth frame that proved to be the difference in the hotly contested ballgame.

“I’m trying to execute my pitch down and away, and I felt like I had a good chance to get out of that inning,” Peralta said through an interpreter. “Unfortunately, I missed my spot and that’s what happens here in the big leagues. You miss your spot here with big league hitters and you pay the price.”

Rougned Odor also homered for the Yankees in the losing cause.

“There’s obviously frustration that we didn’t go out and pull one out tonight, but we’ve got a quick turnaround and a tough opponent again tomorrow,” Boone said. “We’ve got to come out ready to roll.”

Yankees fans made their presence felt

The game signified the largest paid attendance of the season so far for the Yankees. A total of 24,037 people paid their tickets, about half of the stadium capacity.

They sure made their presence felt.

“The bleachers were getting after it tonight,” LeMahieu said. “That was definitely noticeable. It’s just great to have everyone back. I can’t wait for these big games this summer, to have the fans. It’s going to help our team, for sure.”

New York Yankees: 3 Major takeaways from Yankees 6/18 loss to the A’s

aaron judge, yankees

The New York Yankees back at Yankees Stadium last night and, after a sweep of the Blue Jays, took another step back, losing 5-3 against the Oakland Athletics. Luckily for the Yankees, they didn’t lose ground in the East, the Rays lost to the Mariners, and the Red Sox lost to Kansas City. Tonight Domingo German will face another excellent A’s pitcher in Chris Bissitt, who is 7-2. German imploded in his last start giving up seven runs into the fifth inning. The Yankees hope the German of old shows up on the mound tonight.

James Taillon pitched better

The New York Yankees knew going into a new season that they had taken a chance on both Corey Kluber and James Taillon. To some degree, they were prepared for a slow start for these two pitchers who hadn’t pitched in nearly two years. For the most part, the Yankees were somewhat surprised the two got off to a pretty good start. But now, almost halfway through the season, things have turned ugly. Kluber has missed five starts and will miss at least another five rehabbing from a shoulder problem. Taillon, for his part, hasn’t won a game in over six weeks since his only win over the Tigers on May 1.

The Yankees have lost Taillon’s last four starts, and the few wins before that were because the Yankees hitting came alive, and the bullpen shut down the opponents. Taillon has mostly struggled, having trouble with his command and suffering for not finding that put-away pitch after two strikes. Last night something was different. Taillon seemed to have better command and used different pitches that seemed to throw the A’s batters off balance. He threw twice as many sinkers and used his change more effectively. In 4 2/3 innings, he gave up only 4 hits and 2 earned runs. The Yankees hope this is a sign that Taillon still can return to the form the Yankees hoped for.

The big story, however, last night on the pitching front was James Kaprielian. He came back big at Yankee Stadium last night to bite the Yankees in the butt. He held the Yankees to just 3 hits. Since being a starter with the Athletics, he had pitched to a 2.84 ERA, something the Yankees would love to have. The zinger is that they could have. The Yankees drafted Kaprielian number 1 in the 2015 draft but traded him aways in the Sonny Gray trade.

Judge and Torres go quietly into the night

It’s no secret that the New York Yankees have had hitting problems all season long, save a few games. But when no one else was hitting Aaron Judge particularly and to a degree, Gleyber Torres was helping carry the team. At one point, Judge was one of the hottest hitters in baseball. By the first of June, he was one of the home run leaders. Back a month ago, he was hitting home runs at will.  But that was then, and this is now, both Judge and Torres are batting just over .200 during the last 10 days. Judge hasn’t hit a home run in the last six games, and Torres hasn’t hit one for two weeks. Since the beginning of the month, both players’ OPS has slipped 100 points.

Hitting still an issue for the Yankees

With the New York Yankees pitching becoming more of an issue after a great start, the lack of hitting still dogs the team. We talked about Judge and Torres’ lack of hitting during the last ten days, but the rest of the lineup is mostly silent. It seems whenever the Yankees face a quality pitcher, they can’t rise to the occasion and hit the ball. Most absent is elevating the ball and hitting home runs. The Yankees are built around the home run, and when they don’t hit them, they don’t win, which has put them six games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees haven’t solved the problem; every time they take a step forward, they seem to take two steps back. Last night, they could only garner 3 hits off the Athletic’s starter and only 1 off the A’s sub-par bullpen. All three runs last night were via the home run (LeMahieu/Odor). The Yankees continually fail to play small ball to make those home runs more significant. For the rest of this series, they will face even better pitchers than they faced last night. Hopefully, the Yankees can turn it around; they will get swept in this series if they don’t.

 

 

Knicks news, 6/19: Zion Williamson, Kemba Walker, Luca Doncic enter the realm of ‘possible’

Zion Williamson, knicks

August is going to be an extremely exciting and entertaining month for the New York Knicks as they look to bolster their team with plenty of resources to capitalize on. With upwards of $60+ million available in funds, they can target the cream of the crop in free agency, but there’s also a chance they consider executing a trade for a bonafide star.

Of course, using their available money and retaining their draft capital would be the most efficient move, but there are some players who have entered the realm of ‘possible’ recently with rumors indicating their displeasure and the overturning of front offices.

The New York Knicks enter the realm of “possibility:”

Zion Williamson:

Even before Williamson was drafted in 2019, he was heavily connected to New York. Unfortunately, he ended up in New Orleans with the Pelicans, where he has become one of the best players in basketball. However, according to The Athletic,” Zion Williamson and his family” are not entirely content with New Orleans’ management.

Even Williamson himself hopes that the Knicks would land him with the No. 1 overall pick, so there is undying interest between the two sides. Of course, the Pelicans would have to agree to part ways with a player going into his third season who averaged 27 points this past year on .611 shooting from the field. This is probably the most unlikely of the three scenarios presented, not that any of them have true grounds to stand on just yet.

Kemba Walker:

The most likely player out of the three to land with the Knicks is Kemba Walker, who was traded on Friday to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a blockbuster deal. The Boston Celtics were looking to rid themselves of Kemba and his contract, as he is set to earn $36 million next season and has a player option for the 2022-23 campaign.

Kemba is one of the premier point guards in the NBA, but he has struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons, missing out on the All-Star game in 2021. When at the peak of his game, though, Walker is undoubtedly an elusive PG who can run an offense at an elite level.

The Knicks will have to part ways with their first-round selections to acquire him from Oklahoma, just to take on his massive contract coming off an injury-riddled season where he played just 43 games (traditionally a Knicks move). The only way this occurs, in my opinion, is if Kemba is willing to restructure his contract considerably. At 31 years old, the Knicks will likely consider sticking on the younger side and going after Lonzo Ball alternatively.

Luca Doncic:

Another shot in the dark, the Dallas Mavericks turned over their entire front office this week, as they fired their general manager and watch their stoic head coach Rick Carlisle walk with two years left on his contract.

There is a slight possibility that Luka Doncic, one of the rising stars in the NBA, decides to force his way out of Dallas with the most recent transgressions going down.

In that case, the Knicks could look to unload the farm for Doncic, who would represent a shift in culture for New York. Doncic is currently eligible for a rookie Supermax extension, which constitutes five years and $201 million. It would be very difficult for him to turn that down and force his way out, but they are pictures of him in a Knicks jersey growing up, so there could be a clear-cut connection.