New York Giants: Michael Strahan impressed by Daniel Jones’ athleticism

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

It’s hard to see an interview with a former New York Giants player this offseason that doesn’t bring up the question of Daniel Jones. Of course, it’s understandable why. Jones might be the most important variable for the Giants this year when it comes to taking a step forward. The success, or failure, of the offense may rest largely on his shoulders.

More than there was last season, there’s a bit of an optimistic feeling about Jones from many of the figures that have been asked about him. That includes Hall of Fame pass rusher Michael Strahan, who confirmed his belief in Daniel Jones as “that guy” for the Giants in an interview with USA Today.

“You know what? I love Daniel. As a person, absolutely. I think he has the perfect temperament, perfect everything for the position as a Giant. Physically? I’ll be honest with you, what an incredible athlete,” Strahan said when asked whether Jones could be the guy for the Giants.

The compliment about Jones’ physique is impressive coming from a player that spent his career at one of the most physical positions in the game. It’s not the kind of remark that’s often associated with Giants quarterbacks – but that’s changed with Jones coming in during the past two seasons and adding another dimension to the offense with his mobility.

“I think he could be that guy. He is the guy. Now I think you’re giving him what he needs, and I think Jason Garrett is going to do the right job setting himself up in this system so he could be successful and lead the drive to a Super Bowl, which I’m hoping is very soon,” Strahan would continue.

Giving Daniel Jones what he needs

As Strahan pointed out, the Giants have made plenty of additions to help Jones this offseason. From Kenny Golladay to Kyle Rudolph, Jones will have a number of new options and the passing offense won’t look like it did last year.

However, an interesting thing to note is Strahan bringing up Jason Garrett. Garrett was much maligned this season but it’s possible that he isn’t being talked about enough this offseason. Most of the focus has gone on Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley for understandable reasons, but Garrett has a large role in whether those players succeed or fail.

For both players, a personal step forward might not matter that much if the Giants still run an uncreative offense and fail to take advantage of their full talent.

We’ll find out soon enough this season whether or not Garrett has adapted enough to avoid that pitfall, with his job potentially on the line right now. The Giants are trying their best to give Jones what he needs, but one thing that can’t be understated on that list of needs is better playcalling than last season.

Tai Tuivasa knocks out Greg Hardy at UFC 264

On the main card of UFC 264, we saw two heavyweight knockout artists go to war. Former All-Pro defensive lineman Greg Hardy (7-3, 1 NC) took on the fan favorite Tai Tuivasa (11-3).

Greg Hardy was making the walk for the ninth time in his UFC career. Thus far, Hardy has a record of 4-3, 1 NC in his eight trips inside the octagon. One thing we have seen from Hardy is a steady improvement as his career has progressed.

In his last fight, Hardy lost to top ten contender Marcin Tybura. Hardy looked really good in the first round of their fight, but ultimately gassed and was finished on the ground. Taking out his DQ loss in his UFC debut, Hardy has only lost to Tybura and Alexander Volkov.

Standing across from Hardy tonight was “Bam Bam” Tai Tuivasa. Tuivasa was looking to pick up his third straight UFC win tonight. Back in 2018, Tuivasa looked like he was on the verge of a title shot.

He was a perfect 9-0 overall and he had won his first three UFC fights. However, he then suffered three consecutive losses which really set him back. He bounced back over the last year and he was looking to pickup another win tonight.

UFC 264 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 264 heavyweight clash kicks off with a touch of the gloves. Early jab throws from Hardy. Big low kicks from Tuivasa and he’s trying to chop down Hardy. Huge right straight lands for Greg Hardy.

Nice jab lands for Hardy, but he eats another big leg kick. Hardy steps forward with a big combination and Tuivasa seems to be wobbled. Hardy rushes forward and he’s clipped by a massive shot from Tuivasa and Hardy is dropped.

Tuivasa follows up and this one is over.

Tai Tuivasa def. Greg Hardy by TKO – Round 1

Sean O’Malley finishes a game Kris Moutinho at UFC 264

Sean O'Malley

Kicking off the main card of UFC 264 tonight was a showdown in the bantamweight division. Rising star “Suga” Sean O’Malley (13-1) returned as he was taking on promotional newcomer Kris Moutinho (9-4).

Originally, O’Malley was supposed to take on Luis Smolka at UFC 264. However, Smolka had to pull out of the fight. Once Smolka was out of the fight, the promotion shopped around several replacement options.

Ultimately, they landed on UFC newcomer Kris Moutinho. Moutinho has spent his entire career thus far fighting on the regional circuit. Heading into tonight, he was on a two-fight win streak.

His last fight came in May at Cage Fury Fighting Championships. He submitted Andrew Salas in the third round. Out of his nine professional wins, Moutinho has four finishes and five wins via decision.

The Suga Show bounced back well after he suffered his first career defeat. Last August at UFC 252, O’Malley suffered his first loss at the hands of Chito Vera. He returned at UFC 260 where he knocked out Thomas Almeida. So far in his UFC career, O’Malley is 5-1 with three knockouts.

UFC 264 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 264 bantamweight contest kicked off with immediate pressure from Moutinho. O’Malley circles on the outside and lands a massive leg kick. More pressure from Moutinho as O’Malley lands a nice jab.

Moutinho throws a combination, but he’s hit with a clean counter from O’Malley. Tons of pressure from Moutinho and O’Malley throws another kick. Powerful kick from Moutinho and O’Malley lands a massive jab.

Big kicks from O’Malley and The Suga Show is on. However, Moutinho isn’t backing away and he throws bombs back at O’Malley. 1-2 from O’Malley as Moutinho pushes forward. Massive combination rocks Moutinho bad.

O’Malley showboating here as he’s teeing off on Kris Moutinho. O’Malley slows his pace as Moutinho goes back to the pressure after he recovers. Moutinho isn’t backing down at all as he pushes forward threw the bombs of O’Malley.

Big combination lands for Kris Moutinho. Massive low kick from Moutinho and O’Malley is slowing down. Back-to-back 1-2s land for O’Malley. Moutinho continues to push forward like a zombie. Moutinho dropped as the round closes and it’s 1-0 O’Malley at UFC 264.

Round 2

Moutinho looked out on his feet in between rounds at UFC 264. Spinning back kick lands for O’Malley to start the striking in round two. Moutinho is talking so much to O’Malley as he pushes forward here in the second.

More pressure from Moutinho here. Jab lands for O’Malley. Huge right hand connects for O’Malley. Head kick from O’Malley and he follows with two jabs. Left straight for Suga. Moutinho lands a body kick as he pushes forward.

Moutinho is putting so much pressure on O’Malley here in the second. Left straight from O’Malley connects. Moutinho pushes O’Malley back to the fence and O’Malley circles as he lands a body kick. Powerful leg kick from Suga Sean.

I’m so impressed with Kris Moutinho here as he just keeps coming. Right hand lands for Moutinho. Combination from Moutinho and O’Malley lands a big right straight as he moves in. Moutinho’s face is busted up here and O’Malley is looking tired.

Both men exchange lefts with a minute left. Big body shot lands for O’Malley. Left hook from Moutinho and O’Malley is starting to fade a little. Right hand from Moutinho and he’s gaining momentum. That said, as the round ends, it’s 2-0 O’Malley at UFC 264.

Round 3

Heading into the final round at UFC 264 and Moutinho needs a finish. Kicks to open for O’Malley here in the third. Moutinho pushes forward and lands a low kick. Moutinho is talking to O’Malley as he’s walking him down.

Big shot lands for Moutinho and O’Malley circles and jabs. Body kick lands for O’Malley. Big right hooks land for Kris Moutinho. O’Malley looking exhausted here in the third round. Low kick lands for Kris Moutinho.

Big deep breaths from Sean O’Malley. Right straight lands for O’Malley and another big hook on the exit. Big headkick lands for O’Malley, but Moutinho just smiles and walks forward. Big combination from Kris Moutinho.

Beautiful combination from O’Malley as again, Moutinho pushes forward. Moutinho is wearing a ton of damage, but he’s not moving back. O’Malley lands a big 1-2. He follows that up with a few big shots, but Moutinho doesn’t even stop.

Moutinho is literally a zombie that’s not going away here in the third. The underdog smiles as he continues to press forward. Big jab from O’Malley and O’Malley lands a few big shots behind it. Herb Dean steps in and the crowd erupts in boos as Moutinho protests the stoppage.

Sean O’Malley def. Kris Moutinho by TKO – Round 3

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees shut out the Astros again in historic game

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees faced the hated Houston Astros again tonight in the second game of the three-game set. Last night the Yankees shut out the Astros 4-0 at Minute Maid Park. With Gerrit Cole on the mound tonight, the Yankees were hoping to take the series. Cole has not pitched well in his last three outings, was to face the Astros’ Zack Greinke. Luke Voit was back in the lineup, and Kyle Higashioka was catching Cole. Cole ended up pitching a complete game with 129 historic pitches. The Yankee shut out the Astros for the second time 1-0.

In the first inning, Greinke faced the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu, who ground out to short. Aaron Judge ground out to short center. Luke Voit swung and missed to give Greinke a 1-2-3 inning. At the bottom with Gerrit Cole on the mound, Jose Altuve led off against the Yankee ace and flew out to first. Michael Brantley hit the first pitch and flew out to Locastro in left. Yuli Gurriel struck out for a 1-2-3 matching inning for Cole. No score.

At the top of the second inning, Giancarlo Stanton led off by walking. Gleyber Torres flew back to the warning track on left for the first out. Gio Urshela got a base hit to left, moving Stanton to second base. Brett Gardner flew out to left for the second out. Kyle Higashioka catching for Gerrit Cole, flew out to far left to end the inning stranding two. The bottom was led off by Yordan Alverez, who struck out swinging. Kyle Tucker struck out on a 99 mph fastball. Abe Toro flew out to short for the second quick inning for Cole. No score.

Speedster Tim Locastro led off for the Yankees in the third and lined out to Altuve. LeMahieu struck out. Aaron Judge got home run number 21 on the season to far left. Luke Voit struck out to end the half, but the Yankees took the one-run lead in the game. At the bottom, Myles Straw flew out to center. Martin Maldonado struck out for Cole’s 4th. Robel Garcia flew out to Locastro in left field. New York Yankees 1 Astros 0. Cole has had 3 1-2-3 innings in a row.

The fourth inning was led off by Giancarlo Stanton, who ground out to left. Torres hit to left through the hole for a double. Urshela flew out to the right-field corner with Torres moving to third base. Gardner, who hit a two-run double last night, lined out directly to Brantley to end the inning, stranding Torres. At the bottom, it was the top of the lineup for the Astros. Altuve walked for the Astros’ first base runners. Brantley walked on four pitches. Gurriel struck out swinging. Alverez hit into a double play getting Cole out of trouble. Yankees 1 Astros 0.

Kyle Higashoika led off the fifth by walking off of new Astros pitcher Cristian Javier. Locastro hit into a force out. LeMahieu struck out for the second out of the inning. Judge was called out on strikes. At the bottom, Kyle Tucker flew out to Gardner in center. Toro got the first hit of the game for Houston to shallow center. Straw struck out, but Toro stole second. Maldonado ground out to LeMahieu to end the inning. Yankees 1 Astros 0.

The top of the sixth inning was led off by Luke Voit, who singled against the shift. Stanton struck out swinging. Torres flew out to far right for out number two. Urshela flew out to right to end the half. At the bottom of the sixth, Garcia struck out on a changeup from Cole. Altuve ground out to second. Brantley lined out to first. New York Yankees 1 Astros 0.

Brett Gardner led off the seventh inning by striking out. Higashioka lined out to third. Locastro struck out swinging to end the half. At the bottom, down by a run, Gurriel singled to left for the first hit by the Astros in 49 at-bats. Alverez was called out on a 100mph fastball from Cole. Tucker flew out to center. Toro flew out to Locastro in left. Yankees 1 Astros 0.

The eighth inning was led off by DJ LeMahieu, who singled. Judge ground out softly to first. Voit, after almost getting hit in the head by new pitcher Ryne Stanek walked. Stanton hit into an inning-ending double play. At the bottom, Straw struck out for Cole’s ninth strikeout of the game. Maldonado ground out to short. Garcia struck out on Cole’s 108th pitch and 10th strikeout of the game. Yankees 1 Astros 0.

In the ninth inning, Gleyber Torres faced Astro pitcher Ryan Pressly and ground out to third. Urshela hit back to the pitcher for the second out. Gardner singled to left. Higashioka went down swinging. With last licks on the line for the Astros, it was Gerrit Cole out in the bottom of the ninth facing Altuve who got a base hit to center. Brantley flew out on Cole’s tenth pitch of that at-bat. Gurriel went around for strike three. Alverez struck out on Gerrit Cole’s 129th pitch of the game.

The final score was the New York Yankees 1 and the Houston Astros 0. The winning pitcher was Gerrit Cole, with a complete game 129 pitch game. The loser was Zack Greinke.

Max Griffin edges Carlos Condit at UFC 264

The Natural Born Killer returned tonight in the featured prelim of UFC 264. The former interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit (32-13) returned to the octagon to take on Max Griffin (17-8).

This fight was very big opportunity for Max Griffin. Griffin was making his 12th appearance with the UFC. He made his debut with the promotion back in 2016 when he took on another former interim welterweight champion in Colby Covington.

In his previous 11 trips into the octagon, Griffin has gone 5-6. While that’s certainly not the most impressive UFC record, he has been doing well as of late. Coming into tonight, Griffin had won two straight.

Back in October, Condit made his way to the UFC’s Fight Island having lost five in a row. He took on former Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee. If Condit would have lost, his UFC career would have likely been over.

However, Condit picked up a decision win and got back on track. From there, he defeated Matt Brown in January and now he’s won two-fights in a row. Suddenly, the narrative has changed for Condit who was looking for another big win at UFC 264.

UFC 264 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 264 featured prelim kicked off with no touch of the gloves. Max Griffin pushes forward with two massive kicks that connect on Condit. Condit pushes forward with his own combination, but Griffin counters with two massive low kicks.

Body kick lands for Carlos Condit. Another low kick for Griffin. Sweeping low kick for Griffin as Condit appears to be trying to time an uppercut. Another big kick for Griffin. Griffin goes up top, but Condit blocks. Confident look from the former interim UFC champion.

Back-to-back big leg kicks for Griffin. Griffin is looking great, but Condit doesn’t appear to be concerned. Another kick for Griffin lands. Condit steps forward with a combination and he lands his own leg kick.

Griffin circles on the outside as Condit lands a body kick. Another good low kick for Griffin and Condit counters with a blitz and a body kick. Condit’s legs are beat up and Griffin drops Condit with a big combination. Huge follow ups, but Condit survives.

Huge opening frame for Max Griffin who is putting it on Carlos Condit. Condit gets up and goes for a flying knee, but nothing lands. Condit pushes forward as the round ends. 1-0 for Max Griffin here at UFC 264.

Round 2

The former interim UFC champion needs to get things going entering the second round. Condit opens the striking in the second round with a head kick. Griffin responds with another brutal leg kick.

Condit moves forward and tries for a lead hook but nothing lands. Good right straight for Carlos Condit. Looping right hook for Griffin who looks more measured in this round. Brutal leg kick lands for Max Griffin.

Condit checks a leg kick and counters with a right hook. Griffin circles and he’s popped by a 1-2 from Condit. Condit is picking up the pace as Griffin is slowing down. Right straight lands for Condit. Lots of pressure from Carlos Condit.

Left hook lands for Max Griffin. Condit pushes forward with another combination. Big right hand lands for Condit. Both men exchange left hooks. Griffin steps forward with a combination. Uppercut for Carlos Condit and the striking numbers are dead even in the second.

The former interim UFC champion has definitely found his rhythm. Big body kick lands for Condit. Nice jab from Condit and Griffin pushes back with a left of his own. The bell sounds and I have it 1-1 at UFC 264.

Round 3

Heading into the final round at UFC 264, I think it’s anyone’s fight. Griffin opens the striking with a 1-2. Condit starts back with pressure, but is immediately backed up by Griffin who appears to want the center here in the final frame.

More pressure and urgency from Griffin. Big combination lands for Max Griffin and Condit is backing away. Another big combination lands for Max Griffin. Low kick for Max Griffin and a lead hook lands behind it.

Both men exchange big shots and now Condit has the center. Lead hook for Griffin and Condit lands his own off the break. Huge combination with Griffin, but Condit just eats it. Massive hook to the body lands for Condit who is pushing forward now.

Right straight for Condit and now it’s Griffin going backwards. Jab for Carlos Condit. Another huge body hook lands for Condit and now Griffin circles to the center. Condit goes for a takedown, but Griffin defends and were back to striking.

Massive right straight from Griffin hurts Condit and Griffin gets his own takedown. Less than a minute left and Griffin is on top. Condit gets back to his feet, but Griffin goes right back to the takedown. The round ends and Max Griffin should take this one at UFC 264.

Max Griffin def. Carlos Condit by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

New York Jets 2021 offseason recap: Defensive line

The arrival of Robert Saleh should help stabilize a New York Jets defensive line packed with young potential.

Following the conclusion of minicamp activities, the NFL offseason is officially over. The next time the New York Jets convene in Florham Park, they’ll be getting ready for preseason and regular season action for the 2021 campaign. 

With the offseason in the rearview mirror, ESM looks back on the green offseason that was, position-by-position. Our next portion turns to the front seven, starting with the defensive line…

Oct 18, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (95) reaches for Miami Dolphins running back Myles Gaskin (37) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

How It Started

If you, the reader, often skipped these sections of the offseason recaps, this writer could hardly blame you. After all, reading them from a Jets fan’s perspective may be the Gang Green equivalent of watching Avengers: Infinity War and skipping to Thanos’ snap. 

But the Jets’ defensive line was a rare bright spot in 2020, featuring several breakouts from young pieces. By far the most impressive was that of Quinnen Williams, who immediately reclaimed the narrative on his NFL career after a sputtering rookie season. Williams’ greatest leaps came in the pass rush, more. than doubling his pressures (14 QB hits) and sack totals (7 after 2.5 in 2019). The third overall pick of the 2019 draft credited his resurgence to an adjusted workout and diet routine in a report from team correspondent Olivia Landis. He believes last season the precursor to something bigger.

“I didn’t want to be the player that I was my first year. I hit that goal and I wanted to say that I was on the right track for my career,” Williams said. “I feel like this is the stepping stone for me to get better and better every year.”

Williams wasn’t the only one whose introduction to the mainstream NFL conversation was washed out by the antics of the Jets’ 2020 season. Foley Fatukasi followed through on the promise shown at the end of the 2019 season while previous Super Bowl participant John Franklin-Myers had a career-best year in the interior. Together with Williams, both Fatukasi and Franklin-Myers were among Pro Football Focus’ top 35 best-graded interior defenders.

Admittedly, not everything was a breeze for the Jets’ front group. Kyle Phillips missed a majority of his sophomore season after impressing as an undrafted rookie, while the team bid farewell to veteran leader Steve McLendon through a de facto fire sale in October. McLendon was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he eventually earned a Lombardi Trophy hoist in February. The Jets are also set back to bring back Ontario-based Nathan Shepherd. Chosen in 2018’s third round out of Fort Hays State, Shepherd has yet to live up to his day two billing but reportedly “turned heads” at minicamp last month.

Oct 6, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (98) celebrates after a sack of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (not pictured) in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

How It’s Going

The arrival of new head coach Robert Saleh has many projecting that the Jets will switch to a 4-3 setup, which will rely on a strong, rotating edge rush. Their defensive line additions saw them address that area, home to a long-gestating renovation project that hasn’t seen a consistently disruptive backfield invader since John Abraham’s departure.

When Saleh called tackle Sheldon Rankins about joining the cause, the former New Orleans Saint was all in.

“When he called me and expressed his interest and how much he really wanted me to be a part of this and the vision he had for me and Quinnen inside and Carl (Lawson) out on the edge, it got me fired up,” Rankins said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “It made me want to be a part of something special.”

One of the first moves the Jets made this offseason, from a roster perspective, was releasing DE Henry Anderson, who had failed to live up to the hype of a $25 million contract. Afforded an additional $8 million through Anderson’s release, the Jets surrounded their young core with veterans that should only up their pressure.

Casual observers dismissed the addition of defensive end Carl Lawson ($45 million over three years after four seasons in Cincinnati) by complaining about his pedestrian sack numbers (11.5 in the last three years after eight in his debut campaign). But Lawson has been one of the league’s most prevalent pressure artists in recent memory, his dominance on display through advanced stats. Even if Lawson wasn’t the one taking the quarterback down, played a major role in the thrower’s eventual demise. Lawson was one of only 11 defenders who reached double figures in ESPN’s “sacks created” category and, in a more conventional area, ranked sixth in QB pressures.

In addition to Rankins, the Jets also welcomed Saleh’s former San Francisco disciple Ronald Blair into the fold before using their final draft pick on DT Jonathan Marshall from Arkansas. Vinny Curry, who previously appeared on Philadelphia’s championship squad, can provide depth and veteran leadership.

carl lawson, new york jets
carl lawson, new york jets

Are They Better Off?

The Jets need to plan for a future where they’re almost guaranteed to face Josh Allen (and possibly Tua Tagovailoa) twice a year until further notice. A strong pass rush is going to be vital if they want to pull themselves out of the playoff drought mire.

General manager Joe Douglas deserves some props for his activities on the defensive front this offseason. Few could’ve blamed the Jets for becoming complacent after the breakouts of Williams, Fatukasi, and Franklin-Myers. Instead, they upped the pressure by surrounding a defensive coach with elite defensive talents that will help foster in this latest…and most hopeful…chapter of the Jets perpetual rebuild. Lawson’s contract, for example, may be steep from a financial sense, as he’s the Jets’ biggest 2021 cap hit at over $14 million. But if he follows the promises of pressure on display over the last few seasons with the Bengals, the three-year deal could wind being one of the most consequential moves in Douglas’ tenure in both a short and long-term lens.

The green glory days have been characterized by strong defensive efforts. With the frontline additions, the Jets have set themselves up handsomely for what’s sure to be a dangerous, yet ambitious, road ahead.

Final Offseason Grade: B+

Are you more confident in the Jets’ defensive line with Robert Saleh in tow? Continue the conversation Twitter @GeoffJMags

Mets’ offense wakes up and scores 13 runs en route to a victory

The last three days brought two rainouts and a shutout by the Brewers’ pitching staff for the New York Mets. Things were very, very different last night, though, as their offense was able to get to work and produce against the Pittsburgh Pirates to spark a 13-4 win.

The Mets scored 10 runs in an extremely productive sixth inning, and hit a total of four home runs in the night: one by surging slugger Pete Alonso, a grand slam by Francisco Lindor, and a dinger from each side of the plate by Jonathan Villar.

The Mets hadn’t put that many runs on the scoreboard in a single inning since Sept. 11, 2020, against the Toronto Blue Jays, and scored 10 times in an entire game only three times in 2021.

“That was a special inning,” Mets manager Luis Rojas told MLB.com. “We can get used to those. We know they don’t happen every day.”

The Mets’ big guns are catching fire

The grand slam was especially redeeming for Lindor, whose bad performance in the season’s first two months earned himself some boos from Mets’ fans.

“It just sucks getting booed. It’s that simple. I want to do the best I can every day to help the team win, and I was just listening,” Lindor said. “… We also feed off the fans, listening to them as I run the bases, sharing and celebrating with their loved ones, it’s something we don’t really do. We don’t really sit back and watch them. Look around, see how the fans react. It was pretty cool to see them reacting.”

Since the start of June, Lindor is batting .250/.347/.430, which is still not quite his usual pace, but he’s getting close.

“I’ve never hit .210, .205 in the first half, and I’m sure most of the guys have never done what they’re doing now,” Lindor said. “So seeing them getting results, including myself, it feels great.”

Alonso, on the other hand, is particularly hot for the Mets, hitting six home runs and driving in 14 runs in his last 19 games. Rojas isn’t surprised about this performance.

“That means he’s staying simple, so he was ready for that pitch,” Rojas said. “He looks really good right now. If he finds traffic and gets a pitch to hit, that’s what we need. We haven’t been hitting the homers we know we can hit.”

All in all, it was a good night for the Mets, and the offense as a whole has improved a lot lately.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Nestor Cortes Jr. and Rougned Odor create sparks (videos)

There is no question that the New York Yankees have been sluggish in pitching to this point in pitching but primarily with lackluster hitting. However, two Yankees are making a difference providing some sparks to a team that seemed to have little urgency and energy. Those two players are Nestor Cortes Jr. and Rougned (Rougie) Odor. Cortes Jr. has been a good reliever for the Yankees, but recently he has become a good starter with his wacky windups and surprising pitch selection. His stuff is so nasty it’s Nestor Nasty. When in the lineup, Odor provides some excitement as he swings for the fences in every at-bat. He plays with a passion seldom seen.

Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees seem not to know what to do with Nestor Cortes Jr.; they drafted him and fired him twice, now; in his third stint with the Yankees, he is gradually making a name for himself. Although a great reliever, he appears to be a dependable starter for the Yankees. He has two starts winning both of them.

Cortes Jr. is an old fashion pitcher, a real pitcher that constantly surprises his opponents with an often whacky windup and throwing any pitch at any time. He keeps hitters off-balance, often making them laugh. In a game against the Angels, he faced the great Shohei Ohtani. When Cortes made a bunch of strange moves on the mound, Ohtani laughed, thinking that Cortes was afraid to pitch to him; the fact was that he was playing with Ohtani.  Cortes is afraid of nothing and always has fun on the mound. He can’t blow away hitters, but his mental game wins.

Cortes Jr. throws a four-seam fastball that averages approximately 89 miles per hour. He also throws a slider and a curveball. His curveball has been registered as slow as 47 miles per hour. Hitters never know what they are going to get from Cortes. He throws all of his pitches in any situation. His style has given Yankee fans something to enjoy.

Cortés was born in Surgidero de Batabano, Cuba. His father won a lottery when Nestor was just a baby, and his father moved the family to Hialeah, Florida. Cortes started playing baseball at the age of 5. He pitched for Hialeah High School and Florida International University. The Yankees selected Cortes in the 36th round of the 2013 draft. He started in the Gulf Coast League, but the Yankees didn’t protect him, and the Orioles claimed him in the Rule 5 draft. He made his Major League debut as a Baltimore Oriole on the first day of the 2018 season.

On April 13, 2018, he was returned to the Yankees. He played in one game for the Trenton Thunder, but he advanced to the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, combining a 6–6 record and a 3.68 ERA in 24 games. In spring training in 2019, he didn’t make the team and again started the season in Scranton. On May 9th, he was advanced to the Stadium. On June 15, he earned his first Major League win but again was sent down to Scranton, where he completed the season 5-1, but in November, he was traded to the Seattle Mariners. He bombed with the Mariners and selected free agency.

In a third stint, the New York Yankees signed him to a minor league contract. He came up to the Stadium on May 20, 2021. His record since then is 0-0 in nine games, two of which were starts. The result is a 1.05 ERA. The Yankees have won both of his starts.

Rougned Odor

New York Yankee fans found out six days into the 2021 season that the Yankees made an intriguing trade. They traded with the Texas Rangers acquiring Rougned Odor. Odor was to sit on the bench. The 27-year-old Odor had $27 million left on his contract; most will be paid by the Rangers while the Yankees will pay him the MLB minimum per Jeff Passan of ESPN. The question for Yankees fans was why Odor. Well, for starters, he is a lefty bat with power. Odor consistently hits home runs, 30 in 2019 and the equivalent of 26 in the shortened 2020 season. With his lefty power, the short porch at Yankee Stadium looms huge. Odor is a second baseman by trade, so the Yankees have platooned him with DJ LeMahieu.

With New York Yankee fans knowing little to nothing about this still young man, let’s find out his origins and what got him to the Bronx. Rougned Roberto Odor was born on February 3, 1994, in Maracaibo, Venezuela.  He has been playing baseball since the age of 2. [1]. He previously played for the Texas Rangers from 2014 to 2020. The Rangers traded Odor to the Yankees on April 6, 2021. [2]

After three years in the Texas Rangers, minor league system, the Rangers promoted Odor to the major leagues on May 8, 2014. Odor finished the year hitting a .259 batting average, 39 runs, 14 doubles, 9 home runs, 4 stolen bases, and 48 RBIs in 386 at-bats over 110 games. In 2015 Odor was the opening day second baseman, but he struggled mightily and was demoted but was shortly called back up. He finished the season hitting .261, with 16 home runs, 61 RBIs, and 54 runs scored, but he also led the league in errors.

In 2016 he finished the year with a .271 batting average, 33 home runs. In 2017 he did something few players have ever done; in the season opener against the Cleveland Indians, Odor hit two home runs in his first two at-bats of the season. During the last few years, 2018-20, he had a slash line of .209/.273/.425 with 58 home runs over the span. Other than a relatively low batting average, and even though he hits many home runs, he also strikes out frequently. In acquiring Odor, the Yankees may have seen something that the Rangers haven’t seen and can find a way to fix that.

A lefty bat with power is dangerous for Yankee opponents at Yankee Stadium; hopefully, the Yankees will find a way to use Odor with the best results.

On a personal note, his nickname is “Rougie.” Odor is deeply involved in horses and the sport of toros coleados. His involvement in horses started when he visited his mother’s family on weekends, who had horses. His long-range plan is to build a horse farm in North Texas and move his entire family from Venezuela.

Yankees’ Nasty Nestor does it again: ‘He was huge for us’

New York Yankees, Nestor Cortes Jr.

The New York Yankees earned their 45th victory of the season last night, 4-0 against the tough Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park. For the Bombers, stringing together a few wins is a must, as is showing they can get the job done against top teams.

One of the main drivers of the victory on Friday night was Yankees’ starting pitcher Nestor Cortes. Summoned to the biggest of stages due to recent injuries to the staff, most notably Mike King’s, Cortes has been a breath of fresh air for the rotation, and yesterday, he kept the Astros off the scoreboard for 4 2/3 frames.

“He was huge for us tonight, just like he’s seemed to be every time he pitches for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said to MLB.com.

He gave the Yankees more than what was asked from him

Boone had stated he was looking to get three or four quality innings from Cortes, but the southpaw ended up covering 4 2/3 innings on 74 pitches. He wasn’t particularly overpowering, but he used his whole arsenal of fastball, curveballs and sliders, not to mention changes in his delivery, to keep them off balance all night long.

Cortes’ ERA is now 1.05.

“I think my stuff has gotten a little better. My command has gotten a lot better too,” Cortes said. “I think that’s what’s working for me most. A lot of people think I’m a crafty lefty, which I am to a certain point, but I think my pitches have gotten a little crisper.”

“No moment is too big for him,” Gardner added. “He’s a guy that’s very even-keeled, works hard and always stays ready.”

 

One can’t help but think Cortes may have a spot in the Yankees’ rotation for as long as he continues to pitch like this. After all the injuries, and the ineffectiveness of some guys, having these kinds of performances out of nowhere is what drives teams to the next level.

Yankees News, 7/10: Cole explains reason for slump, Luke Voit, Miguel Andujar injury update

yankees, gerrit cole

Over the last seven games this season for New York Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, he’s earned a 4.69 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. During that frame, he has allowed 37 hits and 21 earned runs over 40.1 innings.

On the season, Cole features a 2.91 ERA, but the last few games have elevated his numbers significantly, making him look human after an alien-like start to the season. After the MLB banned sticky substances, which helped increase spin-rate and velocity, a number of pitchers began to see their stuff degrade, including Cole and Aroldis Chapman.

“At this point it has nothing to do with the rule enforcement four or five weeks ago. There’s ebbs and flows to your delivery as the game goes on throughout the season and we’ve got to tighten up some stuff and I’m trying to do that here and I’m trying to do that against good teams. So that’s where my focus has been and that’s what we’ve identified as a group as what needs to pick up a little bit.”

While Cole is quite confident he’s simply going through a lull, the timing is ever so conspicuous. We will have to monitor the rest of the season for the ace, but there’s no question his inability to use spider tack has made an impact, as his velocity is down and spin-rate is clearly struggling to a degree.

Injury updates on Miguel Andujar and Luke Voit:

Andujar is dealing with a strained hand and wrist and could be headed toward the injured list in the coming days. Andujar is hitting .253 this season, his best since 2018, over 45 games. Having spent the majority of his time in left field this year, he has smashed six homers and 12 RBIs, featuring a 17.3% strike-out rate. Losing his offensive prowess will undoubtedly have its impact, but the Yankees emerged victorious nonetheless against the Houston Astros on Friday by a score of 4-0.

Miggy could be added to the IL, but skipper Aaron Boone has not yet decided:

“We’ll see,’’ Boone said on Friday before the win over Houston. “We’ll have to make a call after [Friday]. We’ll see if he’s available.”

As for slugger Luke Voit, he recently returned from any injury before being plunked in the hand by a wild pitch. Voit is safe from any serious damage on the HBP but is taking a day off to make sure he doesn’t aggravate his injury.

“He’s gotten a little bit beat up this week, so I just felt like it felt like it was a good day to get Rougned in there,” Boone said. “(Voit) should be good to go for the next two games.”

The Yankees will take on the Astros over the weekend to finish a three-game series. Cole will feature on the mound against Zack Greinke on Saturday night at 7:15 PM.