Mets will reportedly inquire about Nationals ace Max Scherzer

Could the New York Yankees pursue Max Scherzer in a trade?

The New York Mets added left-handed starting pitcher Rich Hill last week, in exchange for reliever Tommy Hunter and a minor league catcher. Hill had a good debut on Sunday and is expected to be a valuable contributor.

However, the Mets are, most likely, not done searching the market for pitching upgrades prior to the July 30 deadline. After all, while some of them are inching towards an eventual return, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Noah Syndergaard, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, and Jordan Yamamoto remain injured.

According to SNY’s Andy Martino, the Mets will ask the Washington Nationals about their ace, veteran right-hander Max Scherzer. The multiple Cy Young winner could be available in trade talks depending on what the Nats think about their chances to get back in the NL East race.

These chances don’t look particularly good: Washington is 45-53, eight games behind the Mets for the division lead. They could become sellers.

Will the Nationals deal him to the division-rival Mets?

Martino reports, however, that outside executives are “skeptical” that Nats GM Mike Rizzo would make a trade to help the division rival Mets, but New York plans to ask about the ace’s availability anyway.

Scherzer will be a free agent after the season and is 37 years old, two situations that could bring his value down somewhat. However, if he is indeed made available, the Nationals will likely ask the Mets for a significant return.

Scherzer, who won the 2019 World Series with the Nationals, is 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA this season. He has been dealing with some triceps discomfort, but the issue is not considered serious.

The righty recently said he would consider waiving his no-trade clause if his acquiring team could sign him to a contract extension.

Will the Mets invest the prospects and money needed to secure Scherzer?

Mets’ Pete Alonso keeps burying the post-Derby power drought myth

A few baseball players and personalities seem to believe that participating in a Home Run Derby can alter a batter’s swing for a certain period of time. The event is geared to generate power, so hitters will generally try to hit hard fly balls. However, that is a myth, and there isn’t enough evidence over the years that can actually be thought of as a general rule. And for New York Mets’ slugger Pete Alonso, the competition seems to have had the opposite effect: he has been a beast since the break.

The Mets have been able to keep occupying first place in the NL East division for eleven consecutive weeks, and it has been, in great part, thanks to Alonso’s recent contributions. He hit a two-run homer to tie Sunday’s game as the team narrowly edged the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4.

The blast was Alonso’s fifth in nine games since the Home Run Derby, a competition he won for the second consecutive time, took place.

“When Pete comes up in that situation, I’m beginning to expect a home run there,” his Mets’ teammate Jeff McNeil said to MLB.com.

The Mets’ slugger is bringing the power

After the All-Star break, Alonso is on fire, with hits in all nine games, the five homers, and 10 RBI. Eight of those have come in Mets’ wins.

“I don’t know if the Derby played a role in it,” manager Luis Rojas said, “but he’s definitely very confident right now.”

Recently, Alonso said he thinks he is not only the Mets’ top power guy, but he is also the best in MLB. He is doing everything he can to back those words.

 

“Pete is that guy, right?” Rojas said. “We have some guys that can hit some homers, but this is the guy that has the record for most homers hit by a rookie, and this is his second full season at the Major League level. So this is a guy that we expect to hit homers and lead the team in homers, probably. So when he hits one, you feel that’s your guy out there that can wipe up the bases.”

Report: Yankees eyeing Twins lefty slugger to aid outfield at trade deadline

max kepler, yankees

Get ready for an influx of rumors regarding the New York Yankees and the trade deadline on Friday. The latest name to come across is Minnesota Twins lefty slugger Max Kepler, who is on a five-year, $35 million deal.

Kepler is heading into the third season of his contract and is set to earn $6.5 million. Considering his price tag is rather reasonable, Kepler could fit the bill for the Yankees, given his consistent double-digit homer totals over the past six seasons.

According to John Morosi, the twins have had preliminary conversations regarding Kepler, and the Yankees are one possible suitor given their shortage of left-handed hitting.

This season, Kepler is hitting .220 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs. He hosts a 20.8% strikeout rate and 10% walk rate, posting a 1.4 WAR on the season so far. Again, the Yankees are intrigued by powerful bats, but his 20% strikeout rate is his highest since 2018, indicating a slow start to this season but traditional solid contact.

To acquire Kepler, the Yankees would likely have to give up a few prospects, as the 28-year-old still has plenty of baseball left in his bones. However, he has never hit over .252, but during that season in 2019, he posted 36 homers and 90 RBIs, attesting to the Yankees’ interest.

Bombers have also been connected to Colorado Rockies star shortstop Trevor Story, and while I fully anticipate general manager Brian Cashman executing a deal before Friday’s deadline, it could be a far less flashy player to fill a role on the cheap.

Can Bills’ Josh Allen handle the pressure of big expectations in 2021?

josh allen, bills

Ever since he stepped into the league in 2018, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has progressively developed into a site to behold. In only his third season in the NFL, Allen put together a spectacular breakout performance as he not only threw for a career-high 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns but, in the process, led the Bills to their first AFC Championship game in decades. Despite falling short to Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs in the playoffs, what Allen was able to achieve with this team, was nothing short of incredible, providing a spark of hope that Bills fans have been craving for so long.

However, what’s quite unique with Allen’s rise to stardom is that since his rookie season, he’s yet to have any setbacks in his ascent to prominence, more or less, an off-year.

To clarify, even players of his caliber in talent sometimes fall short of the statistical brilliance they’ve achieved in previous seasons. Whether it’s due to injuries, immense pressure, a struggling support system, or something else entirely, this phenomenon has become a commonality in the league that usually takes place during the second year of most breakout stars that shine in their rookie seasons (aka The Sophomore Slump). We’ve seen this with guys like Todd Gurley, Sam Bradford, Mike Williams, Baker Mayfield, and Cam Newton, to name a few.

That being said, these declines (whether small or large) don’t always take place during the sophomore year for all NFL players and stars alike. In fact, some of the biggest names in football, including Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, and Jared Goff, all have experienced significant drops statistically following big breakout years in their careers, with many of these lowered outcomes taking place after their second seasons. And despite his young three-year career so far and an immaculate third season in the league, Allen has yet to have that kind of step-back experience, and it’s hard not to wonder if this slide will come around this year, particularly with the added pressure of making a trip to the Super Bowl.

But what makes this season even more challenging for Allen is the expectation and requirement to produce another flawless season that, at the very least, closely matches the one he produced last year. And this includes limiting turnovers significantly, which has been an issue for Allen since he got drafted. Though he posted a career-low in rushing fumbles last year with only 4, Allen had an additional 5 passing fumbles along with 10 interceptions, illustrating just how vital it is of him to limit turnovers this year both on the ground and through the air (ESPN). Anything short of his last season numbers could certainly jeopardize the Bills’ aspirations for a Super Bowl ring, and that’s another layer of pressure that might be too difficult to surmount.

Nonetheless, Allen has proven that he is no ordinary quarterback and has predicated the brunt of his success on one key component: growth. From season to season, Allen has made grand strides with his development by not only refining his mobility in and out of the pocket but also by improving his throwing accuracy immensely, ascending into one of the league’s best passers in the process. And since his shaky rookie campaign only three years ago, Allen has shown no signs of slowing down as he aims to uphold the dominant level of play he’s been able to achieve so far. Though he’s shown that turnovers can still be a thorn in his side, Allen has become a student of the game, driven by his dedication and desire to succeed at the highest level with an unquenchable interest to learn from his imperfections and beat on his craft. What he did last year was truly impressive and a tough feat to match. But then again, there’s no reason why Allen can’t throw for over 5,000 yards and 40+ touchdowns this season. And with everything at his disposal, Allen’s poised to unleash his biggest season yet.

Knicks Notes: Kyle Lowry could hand deliver Lonzo Ball to Knicks as Pelicans pursue

New York Knicks, Lonzo Ball

One way or another, the New York Knicks will be seeking a point guard to upgrade the position this off-season. With the NBA draft in just three days and free agency starting in August, things are about to get exciting for a team with $50+ million in funds and four draft selections.

However, free agency may offer the team their best vehicle to bolster the unit, despite a recent report indicating the Knicks could wait until the 2022 off-season to spend their ample money. However, with eyes on Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine next year, there’s no guarantee either will be available whether they are traded or signed to a long-term extension.

One option this summer is New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, who is coming off a solid campaign, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and shot 41% from the field. From downtown, he connected on 37.8% of his shots over 8.3 attempts, the highest of his career. Based on the simple reality that players were elevated by Tom Thibodeau last season, Ball could see a statistics skyrocket in New York, which has to be on the mind of the front office. It has been eerily quiet on the Lonzo Ball front the past few weeks after he was heavily discussed at the trade deadline.

If the Knicks are still intrigued by his services, one veteran could open up the door for his departure from New Orleans.

Ian Begley of SNY stated that the New Orleans Pelicans could be pursuing Kyle Lowry at point guard, which would open up the door for a Lonzo Ball departure:

Regarding the Pelicans, opposing teams expect New Orleans to explore ways to shed salary in pursuit of a veteran. Kyle Lowry is one player on New Orleans’ radar, sources confirm.

If the Pelicans are seeking a veteran PG, Lowry undoubtedly fits the bill. At 34 years old, he averaged 17.2 points, 7.36, and shot 43% from the field over 46 games this past year. He also connected on 40% of his shots from range, averaging 7.2 attempts. Ultimately, Lowry should be a player the Knicks are looking at too, simply based on his historical success and veteran experience. If the Knicks are looking for a younger option, the Pelicans could be gearing up to let Lonzo Ball walk if a big offer sheet is presented.

His current contract would be on the books for $14.3 million on a qualified offer. The former first-round pick hasn’t made the elite impact most believed he would when drafted four years ago, but there’s no question he has untapped potential at 23 years old.

Do you think the Knicks should be considering Ball as a long-term solution at point guard? Comment below!

Yankees News: DJ LeMahieu pushing for blockbuster trade with former teammate

trevor story, new york yankees

One way or another, the New York Yankees are going to have to make a future decision on Gleyber Torres and if he is a viable long-term solution at shortstop. By all accounts, Torres is simply not cut out for the position, considering he hosts a .958 fielding percentage and 13 errors this year. The league average at shortstop regarding fielding percentage is .973, and Torres comes in well below that threshold. With that being said, the Bombers could be eyeing a potential replacement for him by the trade deadline on Friday, and Colorado Rockies star Trevor Story stands out.

However, while Story has been rumored to be a target for New York, they’ve also considered the idea of moving him to centerfield, where they desperately need more help. Nonetheless, Story is in the final year of a two-year, $27.5 million contract and is owed $17.5 million this season. The Rockies would pick up half of that number as we are at the midway point, and he would immediately help a roster in desperate need of reinforcements.

Former teammate, DJ LeMahieu, had a glowing review of Story, attesting to his qualities with the bat and awesome defensive prowess, per NJ.com (paywall):

“Baseball-wise, obviously, it kind of speaks for itself. He’s extremely talented and does all the little things well. He’s fast. He plays good defense. He’s a good player,” LeMahieu said.

“He can hit any fastball,” LeMahieu said. “He’s a really good fastball hitter. He does the little things, too. He’ll move a guy. He’s a team guy. Physically, he’s just extremely talented. He’ll take anyone’s heater away from them.

Story is having a down year offensively, hitting .242 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs. However, that is better than the majority of the Yankee batters, and while he’s not providing incredible hitting, his defense remains as good as ever.

“He makes all the routine plays and he’s got the ability to make some very athletic plays. He turns hits into outs. To me, his defensive game has really grown over the years. He’s gotten way better. Not that he was bad, but he’s more consistent, which you should be at shortstop.”

With Story in the final year of his contract, the Yankees likely wouldn’t have to give up the farm for him, but rather a few prospects. The Bombers have plenty of talent in the minors to consider offering, but they have to be sure that Trevor can aid them in their quest to reach the postseason. Currently, the Yankees sit 9.0 games back in the AL East and 3.5 games back in the Wild Card. Their best bet is reaching the Wild Card game to try and sneak their way into the postseason.

Paige VanZant releases statement after second straight BKFC loss: ‘I’m still smiling’

This past weekend at BKFC 19, Paige VanZant (0-2) made her second appearance with the promotion. VanZant was taking on Rachael Ostovich (1-0) who was making her BKFC debut.

These two ladies had previously met back in 2019 when they were both in the UFC. That night, VanZant controlled the fight and ended up submitting Ostovich. However, Friday night’s fight didn’t go according to that same script.

Almost as soon as the opening bell sounded, Ostovich landed a huge power right hand that got VanZant’s attention. Throughout the entire evening, Ostovich would have big moments where she landed with her power at BKFC 19.

VanZant attempted to use her athleticism and stay on the outside, but she couldn’t get away from the power of Ostovich. When VanZant would have good rounds going, Ostovich’s big power shots would sway the judges.

At the end of the day at BKFC 19, Ostovich just landed the more impactful shots all night. Ultimately, all three judges gave the fight to Ostovich including one judge who gave it to her four rounds to one.

VanZant after BKFC 19 – ‘I’m still smiling’

Last year, Paige VanZant’s time in the UFC came to an end after she completed her contract. Immediately she was a hot commodity on the open market. Bellator really pushed to try to get a deal done.

However, BKFC ultimately threw out the largest bid and won the services of VanZant. It was slightly a puzzling decision at the time, but VanZant got a million-dollar plus deal from BKFC after earning $40,000/40,000 with the UFC.

BKFC threw out that deal in part to become more main stream. VanZant has a huge social media presence and the thought was that she could become the new mainstream star for the promotion.

However, things have not gone according to plan. Back in February, VanZant lost to Britain Hart by decision. Then, she lost last Friday night which has dropped her to 0-2 in the promotion.

While things haven’t gone her way, VanZant is still smiling after all of this. She took to Instagram to post a message to her followers and her haters after her loss last Friday night.

New York Yankees: 3 Takeaways from Yankees most heartbreaking loss

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

Yesterday, New York Yankee fans experienced their worst heartbreak of the season. After a late-game win the day before, the Yankees were positioned to split the four-game series with the Boston Red Sox. But that was not to be had. Even with Domingo German pitching a no-hitter into the eighth inning, the Yankees fell apart as they have so many times this season. As a result, the Yankees lost the game 5-4.

Domingo German pitches a gem for naught

In an article previewing the New York Yankees Boston Red Sox series, I said of Sunday’s matchup that you never know what you’re going to get from German. “He could be lights out, or he could struggle mightily.” I had no idea that Domingo German would enter the eighth inning yesterday with his first no-hitter. German was just masterful. All of his pitches were working, and he mystified the Red Sox hitters by mixing them up, so they never knew what was coming.

Previous to last night, German had been a mixed bag, bombing to start the season, and being sent down. He returned a new pitcher with the Yankees winning six of his starts, but then he went south again, with the Yankees losing five of his next seven starts. But yesterday, he pitched the best game the Yankees have seen by any pitcher since Corey Kluber’s complete game no-hitter. Now the Yankees can only hope what German experienced yesterday will carry him through the rest of the season.

Yankees look like a baseball team, but woes continue

On Sunday, Yankee fans for a time experienced the Yankee team they had hoped to have this season. The Yankees played baseball instead of looking dead on their feet, as they have most of the season. Seldom have we seen the Yankees push bunt, steal bases, and even Gary Sanchez achieved the second triple of his career. All this was taking place while Domingo German was pitching the game of his life.

But without a minute’s notice, the Yankee fan’s excitement went crashing down. After pitching 20 more pitches than he had all season, German allowed a double, knocking him out of the game while previously not allowing a hit. The usually dependable Jonathan Loaisiga came in and gave up three runs. Zack Britton replaced him in the ninth inning; he allowed two sac flies scoring two more Boston runs for the late game win for the Red Sox. The Yankees and its fans went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in mere minutes. The Red Sox won three games of the four-game series and the Yankees, coming off the previous exciting win, dropped another game in the AL East.

Is Boone’s job on the line?

The New York Yankees are fast approaching the point of no return. Winning the AL East is now out of the question unless a miracle happens and the Red Sox and Rays completely collapse. No, the Yankees at this point are fighting to get a wild card spot. Presently they are four games out with the Rays, Athletics, and Mariners ahead of them.

Manager Aaron Boone is in the last year of his contract. He has brought the Yankees to the postseason in each season of his management, only to see them fail time and time again. Now he is managing an underachieving team that he has been unable to inspire to play good baseball. One has to wonder at this time whether owner Hal Steinbrenner may be reevaluating his previous support of his manager.

It would be explainable if this were a team of bad players, but it’s not. It’s a championship-quality team that is playing badly. Someone should be held accountable. When playing at Fenway, you see the stands packed with standing room only. Even with 100% capacity allowed, Yankee Stadium has yet to fill the 15,000 empty seats. Fans have lost faith in the Yankees and its manager, and it costs Hal money. Stay tuned.

 

Jets cornerbacks are due for a much-improved season

New York Jets, Bless Austin

The New York Jets defense has received a fair amount of notice this offseason. With the addition of Carl Lawson, the return of CJ Mosley and the continuing emergence of Quinnen Williams, there’s a lot to be excited about. However, one hasn’t received nearly as much praise, to say the least.

That would be the cornerbacks.

Sure, it’s easy to understand why that is: they’re young, unproven and lack “big names.” Nevertheless, this group is due for a much-improved season.

Now, let’s see why they are, highlighted by three key players:

Bryce Hall

Let me preface this by saying that I have very high hopes for Bryce Hall. And why wouldn’t I? The former Virginia corner was one of the best pass-defenders in college…when he wasn’t injured.

In 2018, when he played all 13 games, he led the nation with 22 pass breakups and was tied for first in the nation with 24 passes defended. Those are two of the key stats for cornerbacks and based on what he did compared to everyone else, you can’t get any better than that.

His first season in the NFL was a different story. Along with only playing in eight games, he allowed 37 catches on 52 targets. In case it needs to be said, that isn’t great.

He did show some on-field potential, though, especially for a young player with injury concerns. In those eight games, he had 36 tackles and an interception. Now, in case this needs to be said, or shown, his first interception was a beauty.

Hall will be one of the top-two corners for the Jets this season, and he should be ready for it. At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, he has the size, and the speed, to trace top receivers. He also has a knack for finding the ball and stopping it from finding receivers’ hands.

Now, he has to put it all together on the field consistently. In year two, he’ll be ready for the challenge and the fifth-round pick with first-round talent will help this secondary leap forward.

Bless Austin

Along with having a great name, Bless Austin will most likely be alongside Bryce Hall as the top-two corners. His case is an interesting one, though, as it feels like his numbers should be better than they are.

Across his first two seasons, he has played in just 18 games, starting 16. He has eight passes defended in those games and has allowed 71 catches on 110 targets (64.5%). He’s a good tackler with great movement and speed, so it’s odd that his numbers aren’t better.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, though.

Analysts and fans tend to focus solely on stats and not enough on players’ non-stat impacts. Bless Austin is a guy who can make plays that don’t necessarily show on the stat sheet but drastically impact the outcome of a game.

Austin is due for a breakout third season and has all of the tools to have one. His passion and grit show on the field, whether his stats reflect it or not. It’s about time his stats do reflect his play, though, as something tells me this will be the year.

With no career interceptions, but impressive ball skills, this is the year that Bless Austin should make a name for himself.

Jason Pinnock

Jason Pinnock is a real x-factor this season. The fifth-round pick from Pittsburgh had six collegiate interceptions, along with 25 pass breakups. That’s all good, but here is where it gets really exciting.

All cornerbacks “know” how receivers move, but Pinnock really knows (notice how there are no quotations). This is because he was a receiver in high school, and he was a pretty damn good one. As a senior, he had 59 catches for 1,172 yards and 15 touchdowns. So, one might say he knows how to track the ball in the air pretty well.

You can see these skills clearly if watch him play, even for a short time.

Having experience playing receiver isn’t enough to be a successful corner, and he knows that. To complement his talent, skill and experience, he studied.

In a March interview with TheSpun.com‘s Chris Rosvoglou, Pinnock explained how he admired, and studied, two legendary cornerbacks.

“During my childhood, I’d say it was Darrelle Revis. I was a fanatic of his for years… I had the opportunity a few times to talk to him,” Pinnock said. “He helped my game out a lot just through a few conversations. As far as being in college and high school and getting to that level, I watched Richard Sherman. I’ve been breaking him down play-by-play since 2017.”

If Pinnock can replicate any of Revis and Sherman as a rookie it’d be really promising. His expectations may not be all too high being that he’s a fifth-round pick, but Jason Pinnock should be a major part of the exciting, young secondary this season.

Oh, and it helps that the Jets have an improved pass rush this season as well.

Coining the New York Giants’ most underrated defensive player

dexter lawrence, new york giants

One of the assets the New York Giants gained from the Odell Beckham Jr. trade was the 17th overall pick in 2019. That selection was used on defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, Who has quietly developed into one of the Giants’ most integral pieces on defense.

As a primary run stopper, Lawrence saw his statistics expand last season, posting 53 combined tackles, 10 QB hits, 4.0 sacks, and posted a 3.6% missed tackle rate over 16 games. The craziest part about his statistical output is that he accrued significantly better numbers on nearly 50 fewer snaps compared to his rookie season. That is a clear indication that Lawrence took a big step forward in his game under Patrick Graham, similar to a number of fellow teammates on defense.

The New York Giants are expecting big things from Sexy Dexy:

However, with Dalvin Tomlinson leaving in free agency and signing with Minnesota, Lawrence will be expected to move around the interior, featuring at nose tackle at times but also dominating in the 3-tech. Out of any player in the trenches, Lawrence could be the one with the most potential, despite Leonard Williams posting 11.5 sacks last season. As a 6’4″, 342-pound lineman, he is primed for a breakout season they could land him on the Pro Bowl team.

As one of the most athletic defensive linemen in the NFL, he moves surprisingly quickly for his size, helping him rack up impressive numbers in essential categories at his position. He finished 16th among 85 qualifying defensive tackles in terms of overall grade, per PFF. He ranked 4th among DTs with 33 stops, which constitutes stopping a positive play for the offense.

The Giants are heavily relying on him to lock down one side of the field, as Graham continues to rely on his 3-4 base defense. This upcoming season, though, the Giants will likely utilize a 3-3-5 defensive scheme, which operates with three interior defenders, three linebackers, and five defensive backs. This puts a lot of pressure on the interior pass rush to get the job done, but Graham will likely rotate outside linebackers to help aid the pass rush.

Lawrence, though, is one of the low-key talents that makes an impact on every play, whether it be soaking up double teams, allowing his teammates to thrive, or bursting through blockers to force running back’s to make premature decisions. Whether it be the slightest impact, he was quietly one of the Giants’ best players last season, and I fully anticipate he will become a much more flashy player this upcoming campaign.