Yankees’ Luke Voit is coming along at the plate and remains an important part of the team

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

New York Yankees’ first baseman Luke Voit has been injured for a large portion of the season. Knee and oblique ailments have robbed him some valuable playing time, and his issues staying healthy surely played a role in the Bombers landing Anthony Rizzo, who plays the same position.

Understandably, each time Voit has returned to the Yankees after a lengthy injury absence, it takes some time for him to find his stride. Getting his health back is one thing, but timing needs to be found on the go.

He returned to the lineup on August 8, the day the Yankees announced Rizzo was a positive COVID-19 case. Voit went 0-for-4 with a couple of strikeouts that day, and he looked off even though he had been taking some at-bats on a rehab assignments in the minor leagues.

On Monday, however, he has huge for the Yankees as the team fought their way to a win. It was not always pretty, but New York ended up prevailing in Kansas City after four blown saves. One of the primary reasons they won was, without a doubt, Luke Voit.

The Yankees’ unsung hero

The slugger went 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI. One of his hits was a clutch single in the seventh inning in which he caught up to a high fastball and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead, and the other was a crucial home run that provided the Yanks with another lead, this time a 3-2 one. Both were eventually blown, but seeing Voit handling the high heat and sending balls over the fence is a net positive for New York.

“It was the definition of a team win,” said Voit to MLB.com. “Everybody on the lineup card got the job done. Obviously, we had some ups and downs, but we kept fighting back. Luckily, we came out with the win.”

With Voit, health will always be the key.

 

“I finally feel like I’m landing good on my leg,” Voit said. “I’m able to drive through that front knee. It’s been a struggle for me because I was being soft with it. I was getting into bad habits because I was favoring it a little bit, especially earlier. It feels back to normal, and that’s all I can ask.”

Can Luke Voit keep leaving his mark even when Rizzo returns?

Knicks’ Summer League Notes: Obi Toppin producing, Miles McBride showing value early

knicks, new york knicks, miles mcbride

Over two Summer League games, the New York Knicks have managed to extract a ton of information regarding some of their new players. First round pick Quentin Grimes has showcased his abilities as a three point shooter and defender, but some of the Knicks’ second-year players have stood out in the first two games in Las Vegas.

Of course, Immanuel Quickley, who is averaging 35 minutes, has posted 23.5 points. He’s connecting on 42% of his shots from the field and 26% from three, so while his shooting statistics aren’t anything to write home about, his second performance against the Indiana Pacers on Monday put his versatility and scoring prowess on display. He shot 52% from the field and 33% from range, scoring 32 points.

Quickley’s teammate, Obi Toppin, the 8th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, has looked like a different player thus far.

Two key takeaways from the Knicks’ Summer League games:

Obi Toppin showing off his growth:

Averaging 36.4 minutes over the past two games, Toppin has averaged 23 points on 44% shooting from the field and 31% shooting from three. He’s also collected 8.5 rebounds on average, showcasing his ability in transition and fantastic athleticism running the floor.

Having allowed 4.1 points per game and 2.2 rebounds last season, the second-year player is looking to bounce back with a far more productive campign. Ultimately, with Julius Randle dominating, Toppin was put on the back-burner and didn’t have a clear-cut path to starting minutes. As a primary power forward, he would sparsely replace Randle to mitigate fatigue, but he played the most minutes out of any prayer during the 2020-21 season.

It is evident over the first two Summer League games that Toppin is capable of producing offensively, but the team needs to play to his strengths. Pairing him with a point guard who demands attention and drives the lane. Quickley is so bouncy and fast in transition, Toppin can match up well. Also, Obi has enjoyed a few steals that lead to transition dunks, so being aggressive in the passing lanes is another factor that could help him improve.

Hopefully, he can string together a few more positive performances, as he seems far more comfortable to start the year.

Miles McBride will have an impact this upcoming season:

Despite being the 36th overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft, the Knicks value Miles McBride and his defensive proficiency. If there’s any way to get on the floor with Tom Thibodeau as head coach, it’s to display adequate defense and produce turnovers. Averaging 25.5 minutes over the first two Summer League games, McBride has posted 11.5 points, shooting 53% from the field and 28% from range. He has looked good driving to the rim and using his massive wing span to interrupt passing lanes.

McBride is a capable three-point shooter and skilled defender who has plenty to offer in his rookie season. With active hands, McBride can offer value as an average scorer immediately but tenacious defender. Deuce is buried behind Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, and potentially Luca Vildoza, but with their injury concerns, I would be surprised if he didn’t play a healthy role next season.

What’s next for Michael Chiesa after UFC 265?

One of the more highly anticipated fights at UFC 265 was the welterweight contest between Michael Chiesa (18-5) and Vicente Luque (20-8-1). Both men were looking to make the jump into title contention with a win.

Michael Chiesa had struggled for years to make the UFC‘s lightweight limit of 155 pounds. Eventually, Chiesa decided to scrap fighting at 155 and moved up to the welterweight division.

That decision has really paid off for Chiesa. Chiesa started out a perfect 4-0 in the welterweight division which included a five-round win over Neil Magny. Those four straight wins put him in there with Vicente Luque.

At UFC 265, the fight started out extremely well for Chiesa. Chiesa actually was able to land a couple of really good combinations on the feet. However, after Luque buckled his leg with a vicious kick, Chiesa decided to take the fight to the ground.

Chiesa had no troubles taking down Luque. Once they were on the ground, Chiesa was able to get the back of Luque and he started working on a submission. He almost had a rear-naked choke in and after the fight, Luque said the choke was about 80% in.

However, Luque battled through and they ended up in a scramble. Once there, Chiesa left his neck exposed and Luque locked in a d’arce choke. Chiesa fought it, but ultimately tapped and suffered defeat at UFC 265.

What’s next after UFC 265?

This is a really hard loss for Chiesa to swallow. It’s a difficult loss because he had the win right there for the taking and just couldn’t finish the submission. Then leaving his neck exposed ended the fight.

After suffering his first loss in the UFC’s welterweight division, what should be next for Chiesa? Well, Chiesa isn’t going to drop far especially considering him and Luque are both top six welterweights.

I believe the perfect next opponent for Michael Chiesa is Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (16-5-1). Wonderboy was just in a similar position as Chiesa fighting Luque’s best friend and training partner Gilbert Burns.

Like Chiesa, Thompson fell short, but he’s still in the top six of the UFC’s welterweight division. With both being in such a similar position, it just makes sense to put them together in a fight.

New York Yankees: 3 Major takeaways from a wild night in KC

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, jameson taillon

With the New York Yankees winning three of four against the Seattle Mariners, they went into beautiful Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, hoping to win this first game against the Royals to set up another series win. The Yankees are 8-2 in their last ten games and 6 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. Instead, in the early morning end, what they got was one of the wildest games of the season. The Yankees won in the eleventh inning, 8-5.

Another strong outing for Jameson Taillon

Jameson Taillon, who was named the pitcher of the month in July, continues to pitch well in August. In his two starts in August, he has had two 6 plus inning games that the Yankees have one. Last night he was not quite as sharp as but still pitched six innings allowing just one run for the Yankees. For the first time this season, Taillon has lowered his ERA to below 4; it now sits at 3.82.

The Yankees play an 11 inning “wild one”

New York Yankee and Royal fans who were willing to stay up beyond the one o’clock hour in the East got to see and experience one of the wildest games of at least this season. The game had a little of everything across 11 innings of back and forth play.

It was the second game in a row with no scoring by either team through six innings. As I said, nothing happened in the early innings, but in the eighth, it went wild. When a bad balk call on Loaisiga in the eighth allowed Nicky Perez to walk with one on and no outs, manager Boone came out to argue the call and was thrown out of the game.

In the eleventh inning, Lopez was hit in the jaw with an awkward bounce from a ball hit by Brett Gardner; it was very reminiscent of a 1960 ball that hit Tony Kubec in the throat. Miraculously after a time, Lopez was able to stay in the game.

But in the end, the wildest thing in the game was both teams’ back and forth lead. The Kansas City Royals were the first team on baseball that had erased a deficit in the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th innings since 1900. For the New York Yankees gave up the lead in that many innings. The Yankees became the first team to ever blow the save four times and still come back to win the game. But with guts and glory, they put the Royals away in the top of the eleventh, scoring an additional 3 runs.

At the top of the eleventh, with Greg Holland on the mound and Gallo as the ghost runner on second, LeMahieu doubled, driving in Gallo as the Yankees again took the lead for the fifth time. Luke Voit lined out to short. Odor pinch-hitting ground out to first, but LeMahieu advanced to third. Tyler Wade walked for men on the corners and two outs. Higahioka walked, loading the bases with Yankees for Brett Gardner, who singled with LeMahieu and Tyler Wade scoring. Stanton ground out to short to end the half. New York Yankees 8 Royals 5.

The result of this game is that it was one of the hardest-fought games by two teams this season. But in the end, the New York Yankees were victorious. After showing his frustration just the day before, Luke Voit hit a homer last night.

Injury front: Yankees can’t catch a break

For the past month, it’s been one thing after the other on the injury front, from injured players to the recent Covid outbreak among pitchers and hitters alike. I won’t go into all of them, but pitching ace Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery are out on the Covid list, while Domingo German is out with elbow soreness. That’s three of the five starting pitchers gone. The New York Yankees presently have 20 injured or Covid list players.

The most recent hitter to go on the Covid list is newly acquired hard-hitting Anthony Rizzo. In a Mariners game, shortstop Gleyber Torres jammed his finger sliding into a base; he has just been put on the 10 day IL. Yesterday Aaron Boone announced that the recovering Gold Glove like Gio Urshela was expected to be back with the team for the final game of this KC series but suffered a setback and was sent back to New York. All of this has left Yankee fans wondering what next, and will this ever end?

Why the New York Giants should heavily consider signing OL Austin Reiter

giants, austin reiter

With injuries and retirement plaguing the New York Giants currently, investing more in their offensive line is a priority. Having no established players featuring in the trenches, quarterback Daniel Jones could be in for another tough season in 2021.

Last year, the Giants posted the league’s worst pass blocking unit, and instead of adding more talent, they allowed their best lineman to depart in free agency, cutting Kevin Zeitler to save cap space. The coaching staff is expecting their youth to take a significant step forward, including Andrew Thomas at left tackle, Matt Peart at right tackle, Shane Lemieux at left guard, and Will Hernandez at right guard.

However, Monday’s practice saw reserve lineman Jonotthan Harrison working on the side with trainers, indicating more issues in the depth department.

With that being said, the Giants might consider bringing in former Kansas City Chiefs Center Austin Reiter. After signing former Cowboy Joe Looney to fill a spot on the interior, he elected to retire, citing physical issues. The Giants have had four players retire in the last two weeks, including Lowney, Todd Davis, Kelvin Benjamin, and Zach Fulton. That makes adding depth pieces even more essential, which is why Reiter could come in to play.

Having won a Super Bowl with Kansas City, Reiter, a 6’5″, 300-pound veteran, could offer essential reserve talent in the interior. Having only played center during his career, Reiter would allow Nick Gates to cross-train at OG and supplement any issues. With injuries popping up spontaneously, having an adequate replacement for Hernandez and Lemieux is essential, especially with Fulton retiring.

Signing Reiter on a one-year deal could be beneficial, especially considering his pass blocking grades. Per PFF, Reiter landed a 77.7 pass-blocking grade last season but underwhelmed as of run-blocker. The Giants have indicated their interest in interior linemen, but Reiter’s strict center value doesn’t offer much diversity in his game, which could lead the team in a different direction.

A few alternatives include David DeCastro, Nick Easton, and James Carpenter. DeCastro would be an ideal fit, but he’s mulling retirement.

How can the Knicks get the most out of Quentin Grimes in his rookie season?

quentin grimes, knicks

When the New York Knicks drafted Quentin Grimes with the 26th overall selection, they anticipated adding a solid 3-and-D player to the roster. Despite targeting Chris Duarte in the late lottery, the Knicks ended up with their second-best option in Grimes, who was a solid player for Houston last season in the AAC. Some might refrain from cooking Grimes as a 3-and-D player right off the bat, given his aggression and underrated athleticism driving to the hoop.

Over 30 games, Grimes posted 17.8 points, 2.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and shot 40% from three-point range, averaging 8.3 attempts per game. His 32.8 minutes per contest were the highest of his college year career last season, and he’s looking to make an impact as a rookie this upcoming season for his new team.

However, the Knicks signed Evan Fournier, a quality sharpshooter, to a four-year contract worth $78 million. Grimes will have to fight for playing time, but if there’s any way to get on the floor, it is by deploying elite defense. Tom Thibodeau loves players who exert maximum effort on defense, even if their scoring is lackluster at times. However, Grimes has the capabilities to provide value as a rebounder, on-ball defender, and three-point shooter.

Over two Summer League games, Grimes has averaged 34.7 minutes and 7.5 points. He is shooting 23.8% from the field and 35.7% from three-point range, but obviously, these numbers are affected by a small sample size.

Grimes has been overshadowed by rookies Miles McBride, Jericho Sims, and second-year players Obi  Toppin and Immanuel Quickley. He has shown flashes as a quality shooter but needs to be more consistent with his mid-range shot.

First-round draft picks for the Knicks are always heavily scrutinized early in their careers, as Toppin was put under a microscope last season. Averaging just 11 minutes per game isn’t ideal, but the emergence of Julius Randle put his development on the back-burner. The roster has enough talent to allow a gradual growth strategy for their youth, meaning Grimes won’t be expected to play a big role next season.

I would keep a close eye on Quentin, who has fantastic dunking ability to go with his efficient shooting statistics. While some might look at him and think of a Reggie Bullock replacement, he has far more athleticism and skills to develop, which could make him a well-rounded player at the NBA level. It all depends on his coaching and adaptation.

The key for Grimes to get on the floor this upcoming season boils down to his defense and ability to hit open shots. Thibs isn’t going to rely on him to be a focal point on offense and run the team, so allowing him to improve his spacing and curate open shots is his best chance at helping the team.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees blow it open in the eleventh for win over the Royals

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees entered tonight’s game against the Kansas City Royals hoping for a win so they could get close to taking their fifth game series in a row. Jameson Taillon was on the mound for the Yankees and Carlos Hernandez for the Royals. The first six innings of the game remained scoreless. The Yankees went ahead five times in the late-innings only to have the Royal come back. But the Yankees made the final blow in the eleventh inning for the win. Yankees 8 Royals 6.

In the first inning, Brett Gardner led off by walking. Giancarlo Stanton hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Aaron Judge flew out to right. Whit Merrifield led off the bottom and ground out to second. Nicky Lopez ground out to first. Salvator Perez walked. Carlos Santana flew out to Brett Gardner in center. No score.

At the top, Joey Gallo hammered one directly to center for the first out. LeMahieu hit to right for a standup triple. Luke Voit struck out. Andrew Valasquez ground out for the third out. At the bottom, Andrew Benintendi walked to Tyler Wade. Emanuel Rivera was called out. O’Hearn flew out for no score in the second inning.

In the next several innings, the game turned out to be a pitching duel between Jameson Taillon and Carlos Hernandez.

Through the top of the sixth inning, there was no score. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Lopez ground out to short. Perez singled to right. Santana popped out. Benintendi flew out to Judge in right for another scoreless inning in the game and for Jonathan Taillon.

Stanton led off the seventh inning and ground out to third. Judge doubled down the left-field line. Gallo, who has hit the ball hard twice and one on and one out, singled with a booted ball at second base. Judge went to third on the play. LeMahieu, with men on the corners, singled on an infield hit as Judge scored. Judge was called out, and it was held up review, two outs. Now with men on first and second and two outs, Luke Voit singled on Hernandez’s 97th pitch of the night. Velaquez faced new pitcher Josh Staumont struck out, but the Yankees finally scored in the game. New York Yankees 1 Kansas City Royals 0.

At the bottom of the seventh, Rivera ground up the middle to lead off the half. But after six sparkling innings, that was the night for Taillon. Jonathan Loaisiga came in to face Ryan O’Hearn, but he overthrew Voits as Rivera reached second. The Loaisiga was called on a balk with Rivera moving to third. Manager Boone came out to argue and was thrown out of the game. Rivera scored on a single by O’Hearn, and the game was tied at one.  Taylor with only one out and a run in ground out for the second out. Gallagher walked. Merrifield ground out, but the Royals tied the game. New York 1 Kansas City 1.

Tyler Wade led off the eighth inning by reaching on catcher interference. Higashioka struck out. Wade stole second. Gardner walked for two on and one out. The new pitcher Scott Barlow faced Giancarlo Stanton, who struck out for the second out of the half. Judge singled to right, and Wade scored for the Yankee lead. At the bottom, Lopez singled to left. Perez walked for two on and no outs. Carlos Mendoza, with Boone, called out of the game, called for new pitcher Chad Green. Santana flew out to Gardner in center with Lopez going to third. Benintendi singled to center, and Lopez scored to tie up the game. Dyson struck out for the second out. Alberto flew out to Gardner in center to end the inning tied at 2.

The ninth inning was led off by Joey Gallo, who went down looking. DJ LeMahieu flew you to shallow right. Luke Voit hit a homer to right for the Yankee lead in the game. Valasquez ground out, but Voit put the Yankees ahead. At the bottom, with the last licks on the line for the Royals, Taylor faced Yankees closer Zack Britton and stuck out. Gallagher lined out directly to Wade at short. Merrifield walked with two outs. Merrifield stole his 31st stolen base. Lopez singled as Merrifield score to tie the game up in the ninth. Lopez stole second. Hunter Dozer stuck out, but the game was tied at 3, bringing on extra innings.

In the tenth, the Yankees had ghost runner Valasquez on second, Tyler Wade got a single to center, but Valasquez had to hold up at third. Higashioka, with men on the corners and no outs, had a sac fly as Valasquez scored for the Yankee lead. Gardner singled to center while Wade scored, and Gardner took second base on the throw to home. Yankees up two runs. Stanton faced new pitcher Wade Davis, and he walked. Aaron Judge, on a new day, flew out to center for the second out. Joey Gallo popped out, but the Yankees plated two. New York 5 Kansas City 3.

At the bottom of the tenth again, with last licks on the line for the Royals and ghost runner Dozer on second, Clay Holmes came on for the Yankees to close it out for the Yankees. Santana ground out to second, with Dozer advancing to third. Benintendi walked. Benintendi advanced to second on a wild pitch. Dyson flew out to left, but Dozier scored, giving the Yankees a one-run lead. Alberto singled with Benintendi scoring, and for the fourth inning in a row, the Royals had come back to tie up the game. Yankees 5 Royals 5. O’Hearn flew out for the final out.

At the top of the eleventh, with Greg Holland on the mound and Gallo as the ghost running on second, LeMahieu doubled, driving in Gallo as the Yankees again took the lead for the fifth time. Luke Voit lined out to short. Odor pinch-hitting ground out to first, but LeMahieu advanced to third. Tyler Wade walked for men on the corners and two outs. Higahioka walked, loading the bases with Yankees for Brett Gardner, who singled with LeMahieu and Tyler Wade score.  Stanton ground out to short to end the half. New York Yankees 8 Royals 5.

At the bottom of the inning, Gallagher faced the Yankees sixth pitcher Wandy Peralta and ground out. Merrifield struck out. Edward Olivares got a single to left to draw in Taylor, who was the ghost runner. Dozier singled up the center, moving Olivares to second base. Santana chopped to third to finally end the game with the New York Yankees winning it .

The final score at 1:05 AM in the east was the New York Yankees 8 and the Kansas City Royals 6. The winning pitcher was Clay Holmes, the loser was Greg Holland, and the save went to Wandy Peralta. Game time 4 hours 52 minutes.