The New York Giants should run a ton of three-safety sets in 2021

new york giants

The New York Giants‘ defense exceeded all expectations in the 2020 NFL season. They ranked ninth in the league in points allowed per game and twelfth in yards allowed per game. One of the reasons for the Giants’ great defensive success was defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s creative scheme.

Patrick Graham put his players in a position to play to their strengths in 2020. One of the ways he did this was playing a lot of nickel defensive packages that featured three safeties on the field. Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan formed one of the best safety duos in the NFL last season. The Giants also enjoyed the talents of Julian Love, their versatile utility player in the secondary. Towards the end of the season, fans got a glimpse of what the Giants’ defense might look like in 2021 once Xavier McKinney returned to the lineup.

Last year, the Giants loved running three-safety sets. But in 2021, the Giants should run so many three-safety sets that it becomes their base defense. Running these nickel packages will allow the Giants to get their most talented defenders on the field more frequently while also masking any thin depth that the Giants have in their front seven.

Why the Giants should play a lot of nickel defense next season

The New York Giants have put together an excellent defensive unit. Their defensive line has a couple of studs in Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. Blake Martinez has proven to be a premier inside linebacker. But the real strength of this Giants’ defense is now its secondary.

James Bradberry leads the Giants’ secondary as one of the NFL’s best outside cornerbacks. New York paired him with Adoree’ Jackson on the other side this offseason, a duo that could be elite this season. Rounding out the Giants’ secondary are a bunch of young, talented safeties and slot cornerbacks.

Darnay Holmes was impressive as a fourth-round rookie this past season, yet the Giants still went ahead and added another talented nickel corner in Aaron Robinson via the 2021 NFL Draft. Jabrill Peppers is emerging as one of the best box safeties in the NFL who thrives as a moneybacker in Patrick Graham’s defense. And, of course, Xavier McKinney will enter the lineup in his second season. The former second-round pick was thought to be a first-round talent when the Giants stole him in round two. They’ll want to get all of these guys on the field as much as possible.

In order to get Holmes, Robinson, McKinney, and Peppers on the field with frequency, the Giants will need to play a lot of nickel coverage and many packages where the team has three safeties on the field. The Giants did this a lot last year, spending much of their time in a nickel 3-3-5 package. But this season it will be even more crucial that this package hits the field as the Giants try to get Xavier McKinney to establish himself in the NFL.

Additionally, there is not a ton of depth behind Blake Martinez at the inside linebacker position. The Giants’ depth is a little thin there, as it is at nose tackle as well. To supplement this weakness, the Giants should play nickel formations where there are fewer defensive linemen and linebackers on the field. Put that talented trio of safeties and that exciting young duo of slot cornerbacks to work this season.

NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Busch wins the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 in dramatic fuel mileage race

After finishing second in both the Camping World Truck Series race and the Cup Series race on Saturday, Kyle Busch was finally able to turn his bad luck around, winning the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 in the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday.

“This is a really good place for us,” Busch said. “Our guys do a really good job of coming here with really fast stuff”.

However, this win was certainly no cakewalk for Busch and the No. 18 team. Sunday’s race turned into a typical Pocono fuel mileage race, as well as Busch having to deal with a broken transmission for the majority of the race.

“I was just rolling around under yellow, scrubbing my tires, getting ready for the restart, and it popped out of gear,” Busch detailed. “When we took the green on the restart, everything was fine, shifting into gears, getting into fourth was fine, and then I’m holding it down the backstretch and chaos ensued….. the next caution comes out, I go to hit the shifter to see what’s wrong with it, and it’s stuck. Like it’s welded in fourth gear”.

Busch made trips down pit road for his crew to try and fix it, however, the team was unable to get the car out of fourth gear. The No. 18 car was forced to lay back on restarts due to lack of acceleration, but the car’s overall speed propelled Busch up with the leaders.

After cycling through from his final pitstop, Busch sat in fourth place with eight laps to go. The leader at the time was the No. 2 car of Brad Keselowski, however, he was forced to pit early and surrender his lead.

“We ran a really good race, but didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end,” Keselowski, the third-place finisher said. “They beat us on power and fuel mileage, so we have a lot of work to do to keep up with those guys”.

William Byron assumed Keselowski’s lead when Keselowski was forced to pit on lap 132. He maintained the lead until three laps remained when Byron ran out of fuel himself.

“The goal for half the run was to run hard and get everyone else to pit and [then] we’d have to pit for less time,” Byron said. “Sometimes it hurts to have a fast car because you burn more fuel”.

Byron made it to pit road on fumes and was able to get back on the track for a 12th place finish.

After Byron ran out of fuel, Denny Hamlin landed in the catbird seat. Hamlin remained the leader for just over a lap when he ran out of fuel with two laps to go. That set up Busch to take his second victory of the season and his fourth in his Cup Series career.

Overall, it was a much improved day for Toyota teams, as all four Gibbs cars showed speed and both Hamlin and Busch were in contention for both Cup Series races this weekend. Martin Truex Jr. led 19 laps on Sunday and Bubba Wallace registered his first top-5 with 23XI Racing, all while team owner Michael Jordan was in attendance.

“[Jordan] understands,” Wallace said. “He wants to win, but he knows what it’s going to take for us to get there. It’s more from me, more from the team, it’s a more group effort. He’s in the background watching it and enjoying it….we’ll just keep plugging away forward”.

Busch, Kyle Larson, Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Wallace completed the top-5. Saturday’s winner Alex Bowman notably finished in the top-10 with a 7th place finish.

Larson continues to lead the playoff standings, while Hamlin continues to lead in overall Cup Series points. The Cup Series is back in action next Sunday at Road America for the Jockey Made in America 250 Presented by Kwik Trip. That race will begin at 2:30 PM Eastern time on NBC.

Report: Damian Lillard could ‘request out’ opening door for Knicks

damian lillard, new york knicks

The free-agent market will be flush with point guards to target for the New York Knicks, but the idea of trading for Damian Lillard is quickly becoming more of a possibility. Lillard recently signed a four-year, $176 million extension with a player option for the 2024-25 season. However, he is guaranteed for at least three more years with his future team, whether it be the Portland Trailblazers or moving on to an alternative club.

While Lillard has always been loyal to Portland, reports have indicated his frustration is boiling over with the prolonged head-coaching search the team is currently carrying out. Portland is actively in negotiations with Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups to become their next head coach, a move the fans believe Lillard had something to do with.

The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player — Damian Lillard — out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Lillard even commented on social media stating that he listed a few coaches he preferred, but news that Billups had a sexual assault allegation back in 1997 passed him by.

If the coaching search ends up becoming too frustrating, it is possible Lillard forces his way out of Portland, which would open up the door for a team like the Knicks, who desperately want to pair a star PG with Julius Randle.

Lillard finished this past season averaging 28.8 points, 7.5 assists, and shot .451 from the field. He also connected on nearly 40% of his three-point attempts, averaging 10.5 tries per game. Having played 67 games last year, Lillard has been traditionally healthy throughout his career, which is exactly what the Knicks are looking for in a PG, and four consecutive All-Star appearances doesn’t hurt either.

Damian is currently 30 years old and will be 34 by the end of his extension. He is preparing to earn about $40 million next season, which would leave the Knicks with $10+ million to spend in free agency to acquire complementary pieces.

However, the Knicks would have to part with significant draft capital and young talent to acquire Lillard. New York must be willing to part ways with three first-round picks and multiple youngsters, including Immanuel Quickley or RJ Barrett. Otherwise, they should stick with our guns and simply utilize their available funds to bolster the team this off-season.

‘IF’ Lillard became available, do you think the Knicks should trade for him? Comment below!

NASCAR: Kyle Busch good to the last drop at Pocono finale

Kyle Busch had just enough fuel to win the second half of the NASCAR Cup Series’ weekend doubleheader at Pocono Raceway.

It wasn’t pretty, but Kyle Busch ended Hendrick Motorsports’ monopoly on the NASCAR Cup Series in style on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.

Busch fought an ill-handling No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and saved just enough fuel in the final stages to win the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350, the latter of a Cup Series weekend doubleheader in Pennsylvania. The win snaps a six-race winning streak for Rick Hendrick’s team, though Kyle Larson, the winner of three of those races, finished in the runner-up spot.

“Even though we were in the back and behind and having to come through and persevere through being stuck in fourth gear, no clutch, all that stuff it’s all burned out…It was awesome today,” Busch told NBC Sports after exiting his car. “Great job to my team. Thanks to (crew chief) Ben Beshore. Thanks to Matt (Tyrrell) the fuel guy for getting it full. That’s a big important one today. Really great to take home another checkered flag.

Shortly after the halfway mark of the 140-lap event at the “Tricky Triangle”, Busch’s No. 18 got stuck in fourth gear due to transmission issues. Things became so dire for the JGR team that a crew member had to enter the car during the caution at the end of the second stage in an ultimately futile attempt to fix it. Busch retreated to the rear of the field while at the onset of the third and final stage, the first two won by Martin Truex Jr. and HMS rep William Byron.

The race turned into a fuel mileage struggle after the caution came for Erik Jones’ encounter with the wall at lap 93. Busch joined several others on pit road, seeking to stretch out one final tank of fuel over 47 final laps. The fuel window at the 2.5-mile triangle is often open for 42-45 laps.

Contenders dwindled as they slowly ran out of fuel over the final laps. Byron threatened to keep the HMS streak alive but was forced to pit road with two laps to go. The stage was set for a battle between JGR Toyotas, but Busch’s teammate Denny Hamlin ran dry on the final turn of the penultimate lap. Busch had just enough to finish the 140th circuit and capture the 59th Cup Series victory of his career. That gives him sole possession of ninth place on the all-time Cup Series wins list, breaking a tie with fellow Sunday racer Kevin Harvick.

Brad Keselowski led the most laps on Sunday with 31. He beat out Harvick for third, while Bubba Wallace rounded out the top five. Wallace’s finish is good for the first top-five/ten finish the history of 23XI Racing, the team co-owned by Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action on Independence Day, as the circuit makes its first run on the Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, WI since 1956 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC).

For full results, click here.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Wheeler Makes It Looks Easy in Phillies 4-2 Win Over Mets

The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies faced offensive issues throughout the series, with four being the magic total. The Phillies bullpen cost them a potential sweep of the series, but they had enough of a cushion to leave with a split, winning 4-2.

Zack Wheeler was coming off his worse start of the season and rebounded at the place where his career began. He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out six. The win was Wheeler’s 20th career win in 63 career starts at Citi Field.

Marcus Stroman usually enjoys pitching at home but was not at his best as he only lasted three innings. Stroman was pitching with a heavy heart after his grandmother passed away a few days ago. He allowed four runs (two earned), five hits, and three strikeouts. Despite the rough start, the bullpen picked him up once he left the game. Corey Oswalt pitched four shutout innings, and Drew Smith threw two shutout innings, which kept the Mets alive.

The Mets made numerous comebacks against the Phillies and had six outs to manufacture four runs. Unfortunately, the deficit was too much as all they managed was a Pete Alonso single, and Kevin Pillar‘s home run gave them a run in the eighth and ninth inning. While the Mets managed seven hits, Wheeler’s dominance was made it impossible for them to mount and legitimate rallies.

With the loss, the Mets NL East lead drops to four games as they head to Washington to face the second-place Nationals. It will be a one-game stop with Jerad Eickhoff making his second start against an unknown starter for the Nats.

NASCAR Xfinity Series: Austin Cindric holds off pesky Ty Gibbs to win the Pocono Green 225 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons

Austin Cindric led 26 laps and held off a pesky Ty Gibbs to win the Pocono Green 225 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“We were about two-tenths faster [than Cindric]” said Gibbs, the second-place finisher. “[If I had one more lap], I definately could’ve had another shot [to get him]”.

Gibbs led 11 laps, which was the fourth most of all drivers in the race. Daniel Hemric (18) and Harrison Burton (21) each led more laps than him, but Cindric led more than all of them en route to his fourth Xfinity Series victory of the season.

“[Gibbs was] gifted a three-second buffer and it’s his job to do something with it,” Cindric said. “I think [Gibbs] did everything he could, he ran a great race. I felt our strategy was a little bit better, [we] were fairly evenly matched throughout the day in clean air, so I just tried to manage my stuff and my gap and it worked out for us in the end”.

Cindric took the lead on lap 75 at the end of the pit cycle with a significant lead over Gibbs. As laps ticked down, Gibbs slowly cut into Cindric’s lead and narrowed it to within a second with just a few laps left. Cindric was almost collected by the No. 66, a lap car, when he ran out of fuel. However, he managed to avoid him and barely hold onto a victory.

“I thought he was going to run the apron, but then he didn’t have the capacity to do so,” Cindric said. “It was almost worst case scenario with a three second lead”.

Harrison Burton started the race from the pole position, led the first 21 laps, and won the first stage over teammate Daniel Hemric. Burton lost his lead during pitstops, and then wrecked out of the race on lap 38. His crash was right at the end of Stage 2, just four laps after a scary accident involving Justin Haley and Ryan Vargas.

Haley was turned from behind and into the inside wall, eventually coming up the track and collecting the No. 6 of Ryan Vargas.

“I didn’t know that anyone was outside of me or behind me with such momentum,” Haley said. “It just kind of knocked the wind out of me”.

Vargas, sitting 25th in the standings, had nowhere to go when Haley came up the track.

“I just hate it,” Vargas said. “I hate tearing up cars. I’ve helped build this racecar…. I hate tearing up Johnny [Davis’s] racecars because it’s the last absolute thing I’m supposed to do”.

While Haley and Vargas weren’t completely sure how the crash happened, Haley’s teammate and fifth-place finisher AJ Allmendinger had a view of the crash from his No. 16 car.

“It looked like the No. 8 car just absolutely destroyed him,” Allmendinger said. “When I saw him [get turned], I knew that was going to be a massive hit…..I’m just happy that he’s okay”.

Haley was scheduled to run the second race of the Cup Series doubleheader at Pocono Raceway in the No. 77 car for Spire Motorsports. However, under an abundance of caution, the team took Haley out of the car and replaced him with Justin Allgaier, who finished third in the Xfinity Series race.

In addition to the Haley/Vargas crash and the Burton crash, Josh Williams and Santino Ferrucci collided in the first stage while Riley Herbst crashed in the third stage.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to action next Saturday for the Henry 180 at Road America.

“I’m always pumped to go to Road America,” Allmendinger said. “It’s a beautiful place, [it’s] Fourth of July weekend…. what a place to go to”.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees lose 9-2, swept by the Red Sox again

yankees, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees played the final game of a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox today at Fenway Park in Boston. The Red Sox won the first game 5-3 and won the second game 4-2. With ace Gerrit Cole on the mound today, the Yankees were hoping to salvage the last game of the series. It was a hot and steamy day for baseball. Meredith Marokovitz said that it was 120 degrees on the field.  The heat was on the Yankees from the first as they lost the game 9-2 and the Red Sox swept the Yankees for the second time in a row.

DJ LeMahieu led off at the first for the Yankees and flew out to right. Aaron Judged chopped to first for the second out. Luke Voit struck out to end the half. Kike Hernandez hit the first ball he saw from Cole up and over the green monster for a homer. Alex Verdugo hit a double to right. JD Martinez walked as Cole allowed the first three players to start the game. Xander Bogaerts flew out to left, and both runners advanced. Rafael Devers homered to right-center, putting the Red Sox up four runs with only one out. Hunter Renfroe flew out to right. Christian Vazquez singled to center and advanced on a pitch in the dirt. Marwin Gonzalez flew out to Judge in center to end the Yankee bleeding. Red Sox 4 Yankees 0.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the second with the Yankees hoping to answer the Sox with runs of their own. Stanton struck out. Gio Urshela ground out to short. Gleyber Torres singled off the green monster. Miguel Andujar flew out to left with the Yankees remaining scoreless. At the bottom, Danny Santana led off and went down swinging. Hernandez flew out to center. Verdugo struck out as Gerrit Cole settled down. Red Sox 4 Yankees 0.

Clint Frazier, who can buy a hit, was at the plate to start the third; he ground out to third. Kyle Higashioka singled to left field. LeMahieu singled to the same place in left. Aaron Judge went down looking. Voit line out to short to end the half. JD Martinez led off the bottom and promptly hit a home run to left-center. Bogaerts hot to short, and Torres skied it into the camera well for a double for Bogaerts. Devers ground out to first on a Cole assist as Bogaerts moved to third. Renfroe walked. Vazquez flew out to Frazier, and he threw at least 30′ off-center to home with Bogaerts scoring. Gonzalez struck out, but the Sox picked up another two runs. Red Sox 6 Yankees 0.

With the Yankees behind by six runs, Stanton struck out. Urshela struck out swinging. Gleyber Torres ground back to the pitcher for the last out. Santana opened up the bottom, singling to second. Hernandez flew out to center. Verdugo struck out. Santana stole second. Martinez flew out to Judge to end the inning. Red Sox 6 New York Yankees 0.

Andujar led off the fifth, flying out to left field. Frazier was called out on strikes. Higashioka went down looking. Bogaerts flew out to Andujar. Devers singled in front of Judge in center. Renfroe was out on a slider. Vazquez struck out swinging. Red Sox 6 Yankees 0.

DJ LeMahieu led off the sixth inning and singled to left. Judge hit a bomb over the green monster and out of the park for a two-run homer. Voit struck out. Stanton flew out to Renfroe in right in a tumbling catch. Urshela lined out to short as the Yankees picked up two runs. At the bottom, with Luis Cessa on the mound, Gonzalez lined out to second. Santana ground out to first. Hernandez popped out to Voit for a 1-2-3 inning for Cessa. Red Sox 6 New York Yankees 2.

The seventh inning was led off by Torres, who went down looking. Andujar walked. Frazier singled down the middle. Gary Sanchez pinch-hitting walked to load the bases. LeMahieu struck out. Judge flew out, leaving the bases loaded. Verdugo led off the bottom by striking out. Martinez flew out to right. Bogaerts doubled to left. Devers doubled to left driving in Bogaerts. Vazquez lined out to third. Red Sox 7 Yankees 2.

Luke Voit led off the eighth inning singling to center. Stanton struck out for the third time. Urshela hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the half. At the bottom, Vazquez hit a homer at the green monster. Gonzalez advanced on a hit by pitch. Santana was out at second, but Gonzalez reached third. Hernandez doubles on a slow roller to right. Gonzalez scored. Verdugo ground out to second. Hernandez moved to third. Martinez went down swinging. Red Sox 9 Yankees 2.

With last licks on the line for the New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres went down swinging. Miguel Andujar tapped back to the pitcher for the second out. Clint Frazier walked. Frazier took second on defensive indifference. Gary Sanchez struck out to end the game and a wasted weekend in Boston. The final score was the Boston Red Sox 9 and the New York Yankees 2. The winning pitcher was Eduardo Rodriguez and the loser Gerrit Cole.

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing the Knicks’ contract options for Julius Randle’s potential max-deal

new york knicks, tom thibodeau

The New York Knicks have an interesting decision to make with All-Star Julius Randle this off-season regarding a potential contract extension or waiting until after the 2021-22 campaign to offer him an even more lucrative deal.

Randle had himself one of the best seasons in Knicks history this past season, averaging 24.1 points, 6.0 assists, and shot .456 from the field. He also set a career-high from the three-point line, hitting on 41% of his shots on 5.5 attempts per contest. Altogether, Randle proved he could be a building block for the organization moving forward after struggling in specific categories leading up to the 2020 season.

At 26 years old, Julius has plenty of great basketball left on the horizon and considering the Knicks don’t stumble upon star players very often, retaining him and pairing with another top player would be an ideal scenario.

However, the Knicks need to show the league they are loyal to the players who perform well, and that fact alone may help sway other stars to MSG.

Nonetheless, what would the max contract look like for Julius Randle in terms of years and money?

What a max-extension would look like:

According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, Randle could sign a four-year, $106 million extension with the Knicks ‘this’ offseason, keeping him in New York through the 2025-26 season.

If President Leon Rose offered Randle a max extension, he would earn approximately $26.5 million per season over the next four years, a luxurious payday. Julius has one year left on his contract at $19.8 million in base salary, and locking him in now would save them a pretty penny.

What a max-contract after the 2021 season would look like:

If Randle decides to decline a max extension or the Knicks prefer to wait until after next season to gauge his price tag, they could end up paying significantly more (or less). A max contract in the NBA takes up approximately 30% of the salary cap, and with the cap set at about $109 million, he would earn nearly $33 million per season.

If Julius feels confident he can replicate the only performance he’s ever had to earn him an All-Star appearance, he could tack on an extra $7 million per season to his AAV, but it is a risk. Either way, he’s walking away with an exorbitant amount of cash flow, and he might be more willing to take the sure thing if the Knicks are willing to offer an extension in August.

Yankees News, 6/27: Brian Cashman opens up about trade talks, moves could be made in coming weeks

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

There was a moment last week where the Yankees had won seven of their last nine games, and since, they have lost two consecutive competitive contests against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees have yet to beat Boston this season and will be looking for their first victory on Sunday with Gerrit Cole on the mound, but a significant portion of the damage has already been done.

Heading into the three-game series at Fenway Park, the Yankees were 4.0 games back in the AL East and just 3.5 behind Boston. Currently, they have dropped back down to six games back, with a +3 run differential, showcasing a serious lack of offensive production.

With that being said, general manager Brian Cashman needs to activate his connections ASAP, as the Yankees desperately need help putting runs on the board.

The Yankees’ struggles on offense demoralize the starting pitching:

Starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery picked up the loss, as the Yankees couldn’t provide him any spark or cushion. Down 3-0, it took the Bombers until the 8th inning to get anything going, as DJ LeMahieu hit a solo homer to right field. In the ninth inning, LeMahieu struck once again, driving in Rougned Odor on a single to centerfield. While DJ had four hits on the evening, Luke Voit struggled in big moments, striking out with two runners on base and grounding out to shortstop late in the game with a similar scenario.

Reports have indicated that the Yankees are interested in trading for a player who can offer production on offense, potentially someone like Ketel Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, it all depends on what they’re asking for in return as the Yankees are trying to stay beneath the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

“We certainly have reached out, between myself and [assistant GM] Mike Fishman, to all parties [in] both leagues,” Brian Cashman said on Friday, at Fenway Park. “We’ve had a lot of conversations but … I wouldn’t say there’s any momentum. I don’t get a sense that there’s a feeling of action right now from the industry. It doesn’t mean that people can’t make a deal or won’t make a deal, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of heavy activity ready to burst.”

With Aaron Hicks missing the remainder of the season with a wrist injury, Corey Kluber not expected to return till September, and Luis Severino suffering an injury setback with his groin, the Yankees are fighting to stay above water and need support quickly if they want to remain in the playoff hunt.

Jameson Taillon has struggled; but should the Yankees trade for starting pitching support?

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

It’s been one strange start to the season for the New York Yankees. With over 70 games in the books and the All-Star break only a couple of weeks away, the Yankees have found themselves sitting six games back from first place with a sub-par 40-36 record to show for, barely outpacing the Toronto Blue Jays in fourth. Prior to winning seven of their last nine games, the Yankees lost a shocking 13 of their last 18 games from May 25th to June 13th, a rare sighting for a team that’s as prominent and as talented as the Yankees (ESPN).

To clarify, there have been a lot of influential factors that have played into this unusual start in the Bronx and there’s certainly not one specific cause to blame for the outcome. Whether it’s the fact that their offense is 19th in the league in hits and is only mustering a .235 team average, to their inconsistent pitching from both their starting rotation and bullpen, to their fielding and base running mishaps every other night, the Yankees have struggled with just about everything and haven’t looked like the team they have been known for over these last four years.

Though their lack of hitting and offensive fortitude is certainly a key component that has thwarted their success this season, a big thorn in the side of this Yankees team, has been the inability from their starting rotation to keep earned runs at bay and deliver the big, shut-down starts they need on a daily basis. Outside of Gerrit Cole and Corey Kluber when healthy, the Yankees starters have struggled with minimizing earned runs and have put their ailing offense in challenging, comeback circumstances all too often this year. Although this has been a joint issue reflected in pitchers like Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German, the greatest cause for concern within this starting rotation, has been none other than Jameson Taillon.

When the Yankees traded for Taillon earlier this year, the aim was to have him become a strong third if not second in command for this rotation, particularly with Kluber out and Luis Severino still sidelined for the first half of the season. But Taillon has fallen well short of matching those expectations all year, and with the trade deadline gradually approaching, the looming question on whether the Yankees should acquire an additional starting pitcher, has grown increasingly larger by the week.

In the midst of his fifth season in the league, Taillon is putting up some of his worst numbers in his career so far and his shortcomings don’t seem to be improving fast enough. From his high 5.18 ERA, to his team leading earned runs total (37), to currently placing second on the team with 11 HRs allowed on the year, to his shaky 1.32 WHIP, Taillon has just struggled with his control and accuracy and hasn’t looked like the pitcher he used to be in Pittsburgh (ESPN). Consequently, the ultimate decision the Yankees have to determine is just how long they want to stick with their newly acquired starter and whether they should potentially look at trading for someone else to replace his role. And although this decision might seem clear-cut, it is by no means as straightforward as it looks.

For starters, Taillon is not only still pretty young at age 29, but also faced a hefty physical setback during the height of his career in Pittsburgh. After seven starts in 2019, Taillon was shut down for the season after suffering a right forearm injury, which led him to receive surgery that August in order to repair his flexor tendon and complete a UCL revision in his right elbow. As a result, Taillon did not play a single game in 2020 prior to being traded to the Yankees, and that kind of absence from a starting pitching role is truly significant, considering how demanding pitching is on your arm and how much your body can change in over a year.

Secondly, Taillon as a whole, brings a lot of great qualities to the table, he just needs to refine his minor imperfections. Possessing a mean four seam fastball that can hit the mid 90s along with a deadly power curveball and circle changeup that carry slow yet sharp breaking movement, Taillon has the arsenal to contain opposing lineups but his pitch placement and lack of control has cost him all year. In other words, Taillon has delivered a handful of good starts this season for the Yankees where he’s held the opposing team to one or two earned runs and gathered 5+ strikeouts in five to six innings of work (ESPN). But on the contrary, he’s has also delivered several bad starts that have been characterized by home runs, walks, and multiple hits, directly highlighting his struggle with finding the strike zone and locating his pitches in the right spots. Though this isn’t the quickest fix for a pitcher, Taillon’s case doesn’t appear to be as severe as it might seem, and with a little more time, could level out and improve. However, if manager Aaron Boone was willing to send German to an alternate training camp in early April (which did help him significantly), he should certainly consider doing so with Taillon as well if his accuracy issue persists in the second half.

Lastly, and oddly enough, the Yankees don’t really need another starting pitcher for their rotation. With Severino poised to make his return within the next month or so and German and Montgomery doing well with their respective roles, the Yankees not only have a young prospect they can rely on in Michael King, who has shown encouraging signs of talent already this season. But in addition, they also have the brilliant Nicaraguan native in Jonathan Loaisiga who’s been an absolute gem for this pitching staff. Though he hasn’t pitched more than two innings all season, Loaisiga’s versatility and skill has been instrumental for the Yankees success this year (ESPN). And if Taillon continues to struggle, he could certainly take over his role in the rotation if need be. In short, the Yankees have several other starters that can take Taillon’s place if it really comes down to that. And because that’s the case, the necessity to trade for another starting pitcher, just isn’t dire or essential at all, considering how strong their starting rotation is when fully healthy.

At the end of the day, pitching investments like this possess a high amount of risk and fragility, and let’s face it, the Yankees have been treading a fine line with Taillon. But considering his youth and potential, it’s only fair for the Yankees to give him more time to overcome his first half setbacks and adjust to the daily grind he was absent from for over a season and a half. Not even three days ago, Taillon delivered a sharp outing against the Kansas City Royals, allowing just 5 hits and 1 run with 6 strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work to secure his second win of the season (ESPN). This is precisely the type of pitching performances the Yankees need from Taillon and he has shown that he has the ability to do just that. But his inconsistencies have to change for that to come to fruition on a regular basis, and whether he will surmount that obstacle this season, seems shaky and uncertain.

To put it simply, Boone needs to keep Taillon on a short leash for the remainder of the season. But that doesn’t mean jumping the gun too soon by trading for more starting pitchers that the Yankees might not even use, more or less don’t need. And with the Yankees rumored to be eyeing positional players like Ketel Marte and Trevor Story instead, it appears that trading for a starting pitcher is the last thing on their mind and understandably so.