Mets Game Preview (8/20/21) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (76-46)

The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers get themselves ready for a Friday night matinee after the Dodgers took game one. They needed almost their entire bullpen to get it done, but they quieted the Mets offense in the 4-1 win. Game two from Dodger Stadium is scheduled for another late-night 10:10 p.m. ET start.

Thursday’s loss was just another example of how lost the team is at the moment. The life and energy this team once had are completely lost, especially without Francisco Lindor on the field. Jonathan Villar and Brandon Nimmo supplied some of that energy on defense, but it lacked from the entire team on offense. The Mets failed to generate any offense late in the game as the final ten batters were retired in order.

As solid as the Dodgers bullpen was in their win, it also means only a couple of relievers received a day off. Luckily with Walker Buehler on the mound, the bullpen usually has an easy workload. Will Smith has done plenty of damage to the Mets this year in a small sample size. Smith is 5-for-15 with a double, three home runs, and seven RBIs against them this season.

Pitching Matchup

Carlos Carrasco gets a second opportunity to beat the Dodgers after struggling his last time against them. Over two innings, the Dodgers put up six runs on six hits and clubbed three home runs. Carrasco has struggled in his four starts this season and has allowed 10 runs in his last three innings pitched.

Walker Buehler takes the mound for the Dodgers as he tries to keep building his Cy Young resume. Buehler leads MLB with a 2.09 ERA over 24 starts and is 12-2 on the season. In his last start against the Mets, Buehler dominated through seven innings, allowing just one run, and recorded 10 strikeouts. Buehler has lasted at least six innings in seven consecutive starts.

Matchups To Lookout For

Carlos Carrasco vs. Trea Turner: 4-for-5 (.800), 2 Doubles

Carlos Carrasco vs. Albert Pujols: 1-for-11 (.091), Walk, 2 Strikeouts

Bellator 265 Preview: Cheick Kongo – Sergei Kharitonov

Tonight, Bellator returns on Showtime for the 265th card and they are featuring a heavyweight showdown. In the main event, the third ranked heavyweight in the promotion, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC), will take on the returning Sergei Kharitonov (32-8, 2 NC).

It’s truly remarkable that at this stage of his life, Cheick Kongo is still a top ranked heavyweight with Bellator. The French striker turned 46 years old back in May and he’s still going strong.

After making a name for himself in the UFC, Kongo made the jump to Bellator back in 2013. Since then, he’s gone 12-3, 1 NC in 16 bouts with the promotion. During that time, he’s defeated the likes of Alexander Volkov and Augusto Sakai.

Last October, he lost to Tim Johnson in Bellator‘s first event held in Paris. That was Kongo’s first loss since 2015 and derailed his plans to become champion. Now, he’s looking to get back on track against Kharitonov.

Kharitonov has bounced around over the past few years. He’s fought with Bellator, he’s had professional boxing matches, and he’s fought with other promotions. In June, he won a professional boxing match by third round knockout. With Bellator, Kharitonov has gone 3-2, 1 NC.

Bellator 265 Prediction

To be completely honest, this isn’t much of a main event for Bellator. While these are two very solid heavyweights, it’s not really what you want in your headliner, but it’s still a solid fight and would be worth watching.

Now, I’m very curious to see how this fight takes place. In his younger years, Kongo loved to strike and use the clinch to use a ton of knees and control his opponents. At his advanced age, Kongo has resulted to more clinch fighting and playing it a little safe.

He’s going to have his hands full at Bellator 265 with Kharitonov. Kharitonov has crisp striking and he’s very powerful on the feet. If he catches Kongo flush, Kongo will be suffering his second straight loss in Bellator for the first time in his career with the promotion.

I’m having a hard time seeing Kongo winning this fight. At some point, age just catches up with you and Father Time is undefeated. I think Kongo has his moments, but I’m expecting a big bomb to land from Kharitonov which will give him the win at Bellator 265.

Prediction: Sergei Kharitonov by TKO – Round 2

UFC Vegas 34 Preview: Clay Guida – Mark Madsen

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 34 we will see a fun matchup between grapplers at 155 pounds. Fan favorite Clay Guida (36-20) is back as he’s taking on former Olympic Silver Medalist, Mark Madsen (10-0).

The last time we saw the Carpenter was back in February when he took on former Ultimate Fighter finalist Michael Johnson. Both men were entering the contest on losing streaks so a win was a must-need. Guida was able to pick up the unanimous decision victory.

The Carpenter has been with the UFC since 2006 and he seems as lively as ever. After his win over Michael Johnson, Guida said that he wanted the UFC to give him some contenders so he can start climbing the division.

The promotion obliged in giving him Mark Madsen. Madsen will be making his third appearance with the UFC. He hasn’t fought since March of 2020 due to some injuries, but he’s back and ready to go.

Madsen defeated Austin Hubbard at UFC 248 in his last fight to advance to 2-0 in the octagon. The former Silver Medalist in Greco Roman is ready to get the biggest win of his MMA career tomorrow night.

UFC Vegas 34 Prediction

I’m very intrigued by this matchup in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 34. On one hand, you can think of this as a matchup between grapplers where one man has far more credentials than the other.

Guida has long been known for his wrestling. However, Madsen is just on another level in terms of grappling. We don’t see many Olympic Medalists in the UFC and when we do, they usually do very well.

While Guida normally likes to wrestle, he should try to keep this fight at distance. We’ve seen some sharp striking from Guida in the past, and his unorthodox movements could cause Madsen some problems.

If Madsen is able to get Guida against the fence or in a grappling position for two of these rounds, he’s going to pickup his third UFC win. I just don’t see Guida being able to outgrapple him.

However, Guida has the massive advantage in terms of cardio and he knows how to score points. I do believe you’re going to see Madsen have some success, but something tells me Guida is going to score more on the feet. In the third round, I really like Guida’s activity. Call me crazy, but I’m going with Clay Guida in a razor close fight.

Prediction: Clay Guida by Split Decision

UFC Vegas 34 Preview: Alexandre Pantoja – Brandon Royval

Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC Vegas 34, we will see a tremendous matchup in the flyweight division. Two of the division’s most exciting top contenders will battle it out as Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) takes on Brandon Royval (12-5).

Pantoja ranks third in the UFC‘s flyweight division while Royval is sixth ahead of tomorrow night’s matchup. This is the first time we’ve seen Brandon Royval since UFC 255 when he took on Brandon Moreno. In hindsight, that fight was a title eliminator.

Royval started out the round well, but Moreno really turned things around at the mid-point. Near the end of the round, Royval suffered an injury and Moreno followed up to get the TKO victory. It was revealed that Royval tore his labrum in the fight.

While it’s certainly a serious injury, Royval is back at UFC Vegas 34 after just under nine months away. Standing in his way is one of the most dangerous contenders in the division in Alexandre Pantoja.

In his last seven fights, Pantoja is 5-2. One of those wins came against the current UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno. We last saw him in February when he defeated Manel Kape by decision.

UFC Vegas 34 Prediction

This flyweight matchup at UFC Vegas 34 is already being looked at as the Fight of The Night. Both men love to bring it and both have extremely exciting styles that should compliment each other.

Brandon Royval really showed out in 2020 prior to the Moreno fight. He defeated Kai Kara-France and former title challenger Tim Elliot and looked good doing it. Obviously, he has slick skills on the ground and he’s very fluid on his feet.

That said, his injury at UFC 255 concerns me. Nine months seems like a quick turn around for a labrum injury and we really don’t know how he’s going to look. We do know what were going to get from Pantoja.

Pantoja is one of the hardest hitters in the division and he’s extremely talented. The power he possesses might cause some hesitancy from Royval. That combined with Royval returning from injury and I just like Pantoja from an activity standpoint. I think it’s really fun, but I have Pantoja winning here.

Prediction: Alexandre Pantoja by Unanimous Decision

FOCO Releasing James McCann Mets Black Jersey Bobblehead

While the New York Mets may not be at home, FOCO has Mets fans set with another Black Friday jersey bobblehead. James McCann joins Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Jacob deGrom as the latest Met to get their own Black Jersey Bobblehead.

Just like the past bobbleheads, there are 321 pieces that cost $60 on the FOCO website. McCann is wearing the black jersey with his pearly smile and classic finish on his swing. The Mets catcher is also wearing the black stirrups we have seen past bobbleheads display as well. Make sure to place your order for McCann’s bobblehead before they run out!

Impressive shortstop is now the Yankees’ top prospect and celebrates with a bang

New York Yankees, Anthony Volpe

The New York Yankees have managed to build a deep farm without sacrificing major league success, which s something unusual and incredibly hard to do. The system doesn’t have an Adley Rutschman or a Bobby Witt Jr., but its depth was on full display at the trade deadline, when they were able to bring Joey Gallo, Clay Holmes, Joely Rodriguez, Andrew Heaney, and Anthony Rizzo without giving away their top five guys.

Yankees’ draftee Anthony Volpe, taken with the team’s first-round selection in 2019, wasn’t precisely viewed as a star back then, but has fully blossomed into a bonafide stud and has broken out with impressive power at the lower minor league levels in 2021.

The 20-year-old Volpe moved to the top of the Yankees’ prospect rankings in MLB Pipeline’s latest update. Yes, that’s right: he has overtaken hulking outfielder Jasson Dominguez, fellow shortstop Oswald Peraza, and pitchers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, and Clarke Schmidt.

A night to remember for the Yankees’ young stud

The Yankees’ new number one prospect went off on Thusday night, going 3-for-4 with a walk-off 2-run home run against the Cyclones to celebrate his new ranking. He single-handedly carried the Hudson Valley Renegades to a 7-6 victory. He also had a triple, a walk, and three runs scored.

Volpe started the 2021 season as the number 11 prospect in the Yankees’ system. He was viewed as a projectable bat, but truth be told, very few people forecasted this type of power from him.

For the season, Volpe is slashing .305/.438/.619 with 20 home runs, 71 RBIs and 27 stolen bases, for Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley.

Dominguez fell to second, Peraza is now third. Gil, who has been impressing in the major leagues, is fourth, and Schmidth is fifth.

Per MLB Pipeline, Volpe (No. 15), Dominguez (No. 17) and Peraza (No. 64) are all in the Top 100 prospects list.

Yankees get positive news on injured star, but won’t ‘speculate’ on his return

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees are getting healthier at the right time, and in addition to that, have recently discovered or added useful players when they needed them the most. The trade additions have been outstanding, Wandy Peralta has blossomed into a reliable reliever, Andrew Velasquez has excelled at shortstop, Nestor Cortes Jr. is doing a terrific job holding down a rotation spot, and they are welcoming back some injured players.

Perhaps the single most influential player currently on the shelf, Luis Severino, also got some good injury news on the week. After a couple of days of waiting for tests, MRIs, and second opinions, the Yankees announced that there is no structural damage on his shoulder, one that forced him to skip his latest rehab start.

The Yankees, however, ordered Severino to rest for a few days. Manager Aaron Boone said the right-hander won’t throw this week as he lets the tightness in his shoulder calm down.

The Yankees want Sevy to see renowned doctor in person

His MRI results were sent to Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a noted orthopedist and the Dodgers’ team physician. Boone explained there’s a chance Sevy will visit ElAttrache in person when the Yankees travel to the West Coast.

“I think, overall, it was pretty good news from an MRI standpoint, it’s just a matter of wanting to get Sevy with him when we’re out on the West Coast — an in-person physical, hands-on appointment as well,” Boone said to MLB.com. “In the meantime, we’re just kind of working on him and seeing at what point he would be able to start throwing again.”

The Yankees’ skipper, however, will not speculate on potential return dates.

 

“I don’t want to speculate because I don’t know when he’s throwing a ball and I don’t know when he’s back on the mound and where we’re starting from,” he said. “It would probably be silly of me to speculate on that. If he’s throwing a ball by Monday and ramping up by then, we’ll just see.”

New York Yankees: 4 Major takeaways from Yankee win over the Twins

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, jameson taillon

Last night after sweeping the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees started game one of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium against the Minnesota Twins. They won game one 7-5 on their way to another series win. The win last night was the Yankees’ seventh in a row.

Jameson Taillon okay in Yankee win

Jameson Taillon, who has been the best Yankee pitcher over the past six weeks, sailed through the first five innings last night, putting away 15 Twins hitters. But then came the sixth inning when a Cave home run ended his night. He struck out five without issuing a walk. Even though he gave up three runs, he kept the Yankees in the game.

Wandy Peralta came in and pitched 1.2 perfect innings. He was replaced by Zack Britton and Chad Green, who both gave up a run. The Yankee offense held up the pitching giving those pitchers seven runs to work with. Taillon got the win, and Green got the save.

Velazquez emerging as a Yankee spark

Since Andrew Velazquez was brought up from the Rail Riders in recent games, he seems to be involved in a Yankees win with either offense or defense or both. He has been providing a spark that has been missing a good part of the year. Just like the addition of Rougie Odor earlier in the season, he seems to have helped change the culture of the Yankees. adding more excitement to games. Last night the young shortstop had a standup triple, stole a base, and went two for three on the night.

Home runs remain king for the Yankees

The new and improved New York Yankees have recently found ways to win games where they don’t hit home runs. But make no mistake about it, the home run is still king for a team built around those long balls. Last night in the fourth inning, backup catcher Kyle Higasioka hit a homer. In the eighth inning, Giancarlo Stanton hit a cheap one into the short porch in right. The Yankees won the game by two runs.

Severino: Good and bad news

First, the bad former ace pitcher Luis Severino may not pitch in the big leagues this season. The good news is that his recent setback may not be as big of a problem as it could have been. Severino was removed from a rehab start with shoulder tightness. He was sent for an MRI and showed there was no structural damage. Nonetheless, he was sent for a second opinion which confirmed that there indeed were no structural problems.

He will probably not throw this week as they go slow with Severino; also, he will travel with the team and may see a specialist there on the west coast tour.

On brighter news, reliever Clay Holmes that has been so good for the New York Yankees is nearing a return from the Covid list; he could rejoin the team during this series.

The Knicks have a perfect strategy at point guard to mitigate fatigue

knicks, new york knicks, derrick rose, miles mcbride

The New York Knicks are taking a different approach toward the point guard position this upcoming season. Last year, the team relied on Elfrid Payton as their primary starter before trading for Derrick Rose at the deadline.

Rose ended up being a catalyst toward the team’s success and eventual playoff appearance, but injuries began to take hold as Tom Thibodeau was forced to rely on him more than anticipated. Payton’s inability to score efficiently and shoot from three eventually saw his minutes depreciate, which led the Knicks to replace him this off-season.

Extending Rose on a new three-year contract, the team is clearly convinced he can provide significant value as the starter. However, they also want to mitigate fatigue, as Rose is preparing to turn 33 years old and can’t handle an entire regular season and the physical constraints it comes with. To help supplement that reality, the front office signed Kemba walker to a two-year contract, coming off a season where he played in just 43 games.

With a degenerative knee issue, Walker is also unable to play a full 82 game season but is only one year removed from an All-Star appearance during the 2019-20 campaign.

Last year with Boston, Walker averaged 19.3 points, 4.9 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He also connected on 36% of his shots from range, averaging 8.2 attempts per game. When playing at the top of his game, Walker is an All-Star caliber player who can elevate a roster and provide immediate scoring production. Playing off one another, Rose and Walker can help keep the point guard position fresh and efficient throughout the course of a season.

Theoretically, both players would split minutes evenly, playing 41 games in total. Kemba average 31.8 minutes last season while Rose played in 25.6. But the Knicks didn’t stop there when considering the PG spot, they also drafted West Virginia stand-out Miles McBride with the 36th overall selection. During Summer League play, McBride looked fantastic, averaging 15.2 points on 53% shooting from the field and 50% shooting from three-point range.

Showcasing solid defense and shooting prowess, McBride is in line to earn minutes as well. Luckily for McBride, Argentinian native Luca Vildoza was forced out with an injury, providing him with a great opportunity to prove his worth over a larger sample size. Vildoza’s contract is non-guaranteed, so the Knicks can let him walk and save a bit of salary space to allocate elsewhere if need be.

The emergence of McBride during Summer League play motivated the coaching staff, meaning if Walker or Rose miss any time, they have a young supplement they can rely on. I would be remiss not to mention Immanuel Quickley and his performance at PG this summer as well. Quickley averaged 7.8 assists per game and 20.2 points leading the offense.

It is clear that the Knicks have far more talent at a spot of weakness this upcoming season than the year prior. If all goes to plan, they will have a solid rotation of options at point guard, and it should change the course of the franchise for years to come, potentially allowing them to take a step forward in the postseason.

New York Giants should keep eyes on one Cleveland Browns offensive lineman as trade/waiver target

new york giants, drew forbes, cleveland browns

The New York Giants’ front office feels confident about their starting offensive line unit, despite left guard Shane Lemieux working his way back from a knee injury he suffered early in training camp.

After a disappointing first preseason game against the New York Jets, Big Blue is on the hunt for reserve talent in the trenches, and their joint practice sessions this week and a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns should offer them a behind the scenes look at some of their roster bubble talents.

Cleveland has a strong offensive line, representing one of the only teams in the NFL to have so much security at a premium unit. With that being said, one player who could represent a target for the Giants in a potential trade or waiver claim is Drew Forbes, backup offensive guard. The former Southeast Missouri State lineman stands at 6’5” and 308 pounds and is just 24 years old.

Forbes, who was a sixth-round draft pick in 2019, was in line to compete for the starting job before an injury landed him on IR, and he proceeded to opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.

However, that doesn’t mean Forbes doesn’t have value, as he would immediately become the Giants’ best depth piece at the guard position. With the retirement of Zach Fulton and Joe Looney, they desperately need a player with upside.

Back in 2019, Sports Illustrated coined Forbes as their “Prospect X,” using words like “nasty” to characterize his physical approach and style of play. We know that general manager Dave Gettleman loves linemen who have a chip on their shoulder, and Forbes fits that mold perfectly.

Luckily for Big Blue, Forbes is on the roster bubble given how much depth Cleveland has at the position and him opting out last year. Both Blake Hance and Michael Dunn are ahead of him on the depth chart, and with the Giants practicing with Cleveland this week, a fantastic opportunity to scout him in person has presented itself.

Last week in the Browns’ preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Forbes recorded an 83.6 pass-blocking grade and 64.7 run-blocking grade, according to PFF. He enjoyed 29 total snaps at left guard. Based on the performance that Kenny Wiggins provided against the Jets, seemingly forgetting all fundamentals, targeting Forbes as a potential addition would be a solid move.