New York Yankees: Preview of a Yankee must sweep series

Tonight, the New York Yankees enter a near must sweep series with the lowly Texas Rangers. The Rangers are playing .369 baseball, with the Yankees still trying to get a berth in a one-game wild-card playoff; they must dominate starting right now. Of the Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays, the Yankees have the most difficult schedule remaining. After this Texas series, the Yankees play the Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, and finally, the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

Editorially speaking, after the last two really embarrassing losses, the Boo Birds are out in full force; they actually booed off the field their best starting pitcher of the season. Social media is packed with advice on who should be fired. This is not the time for boos. This is the time to root on the New York Yankees; they still have a chance at a wild-card berth and a 28th World Championship.

The Yankees unexplainably have played some of their best baseball of the season and their worst recently. The Yankee pitching is in shambles, they have been playing sloppy baseball, and the hitters have been inconsistent at best. But this is still a team that can show power and win games. This team has turned it around before and can do it again.

The Texas Rangers have had a dreadful season. Before the season, they lost some key players, including Corey Kluber. As a result, they sit at the bottom of the AL West, losing 94 games and winning only 55. Going into this series, the Yankees will have the ERA advantage against each Texas Ranger starter. The Yankees should dominate and sweep the Rangers, but at least they must take the series to have any hope of advancing.

Tonight, September 20, 7:05 pm EDT

Tonight, Nestor Cortes Jr., who has been a Godsend for the Yankees, will take the mound in the first game of the series. Cortes is a lefty that is 2-2 with an ERA of 2.60 and 87 strikeouts. The Yankees have won 6 of his last nine starts, and he is coming off of one of his best starts of the year. He went into the seventh inning, striking out a season-high 11 Orioles batters. First baseman Nathaniel Lowe is the only Ranger that has been successful off Cortes.

Cortes will face the Texas Rangers’ A. J. Alexy, a righty that is 2-0 with an ERA of 3.68 and 14 strikeouts in three starts. The Rangers needed a starter, and Alexy was promoted from the minors to the Rangers on August 30. He is coming off a 15-1 loss to the Houston Astros when he gave up 6 earned runs in 3.2 innings of work. No Yankee has ever faced Alexy.

Tuesday, September 21, 7:05 pm EDT

Tuesday night, the Yankees will bring Jordan Montgomery to the mound in the second game of the series. “Monty” is a lefty that is 5-6 with an ERA of 3.63 with 149 strikeouts. Montgomery has pitched much better than the record would suggest; he has gotten little run support in his games. He was the Yankees winningest pitcher for a time but seemed to have tired adjusting to a 162 game season. The Yankees have lost his last three starts, although he got a season-high 12 strikeouts in his last outing against the Orioles.

Montgomery will face Dane Dunning, a righty that is 5-8 with a 4.28 ERA and 103 strikeouts. This will be Dunning’s 22 start of the season, and he is coming off a loss to the Boston Red Sox. He gave up 5 earned runs in 4.2 innings of work. Dunning is a sinkerball pitcher that throws in three other pitches. He relies on getting ground-outs. Few Yankees have had much experience with him.

Wednesday, September 22, 7:05 pm EDT

Wednesday night’s starter for the Yankees will be Corey Kluber, building since his return from a three-month stint on the IL with a sore shoulder. He is 5-3 with an ERA of 3.68 and 76 strikeouts in 14 starts. He got the Yankees only no-hitter earlier in the season since David Cone’s perfect game in 1999. He is coming off his best start since that no-hitter when he shut out the Cleveland Indians 8-0. This will be the second time Kluber has faced his former team. In the first game, Kluber pitched a complete-game win.

Kluber will face the Rangers, Taylor Hearn. Hearn is a lefty that is 6-5 with an ERA of 4.52 and 87 strikeouts. Hearn had won two games in September but is coming off his worst game of the season when he gave up 7 earned runs in just 3.1 innings against the Chicago White Sox. Few Yankees have seen Hearn pitch.

Notes: The Yankees have sent down to Scranton both Luis Gil and Clarke Schmidt. But the Yankees could get some reinforcements as early as today. Joey Gallo is expected back from his sore neck, and 2018 pitching ace Luis Severino is expected to rejoin the team during this series, most likely working out of the bullpen.

All of the Texas Rangers games will be televised on the YES Network and Bally Sports Southwest. Tonight’s game will also be on the MLBN out of market.

Mets’ Noah Syndergaard could skip minor league assignment and rejoin big league team

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard, yankees

The New York Mets, losers of eight of their last eleven games, have ceded a lot of ground in the NL East division race even though they won on Sunday. They are currently 73-77, third in the table and 5.5 games behind the leaders, the Atlanta Braves.

The situation isn’t much better in the Wild Card race, either, so the Mets have no choice but to win most of their remaining games and hope for the Braves (and the Philadelphia Phillies) to slide.

Some help could be on the way. Jacob deGrom is throwing from a mound and should not be far from a return, while Noah Syndergaard, who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, is also on his way back.

Syndergaard suffered a setback in late May, when he nursed right elbow inflammation that prevented him from throwing for six weeks. After slowly, but surely working his way back to New York, he threw 15-20 pitches during a live BP session on Sunday, in what was his second time facing hitters since a COVID-19 diagnosis forced him to quarantine for 10 days.

The Mets are still weighing their options

According to the Mets’ official site, they are now “considering activating Syndergaard without sending him back on a Minor League rehab assignment, though there’s a chance they’ll play it safe and test him in a more controlled Minors environment instead. Either way, Syndergaard has a decent shot of returning on the Mets’ upcoming road trip through Boston and Milwaukee.”

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been bad in 2021, but it could definitely use a spark such as the one Syndergaard can definitely provide.

There is an issue, though: the Mets will not let him throw sliders and curveballs, as they generate too much stress in his right arm. That has been the advice from doctors and specialists to Syndergaard. Instead, he will be a two-pitch reliever in the stretch run: he will only throw fastballs and changeups.

Can the Knicks land the 4th Seed again during 2021-22 season? | Who stands in their path?

knicks, julius randle, trae young

The New York Knicks securing the 4th Seed in the Eastern Conference last year was a miracle given the lack of talent at specific positions. Thanks to All-Star power forward Julius Randle, the team relied on his offensive production to win an impressive string of games during the latter portion of the year.

At one point during the season between April 9 and May 3, the Knicks won 12-of-13 games, pulling away with a nice lead in the East to secure a guaranteed postseason spot. However, for any team to string together that many wins is complex. The Knicks will realistically drop a few spots in the standings, given the improvements made around them for teams like Atlanta and Miami. It is entirely possible the Knicks land in the play-in tournament, battling with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.

However, the 6th Seed in the Eastern Conference is up for grabs, with both Miami and Atlanta inching closer toward being considered elite-level teams.

Projected top-10 standings in the Eastern Conference:

1.) Milwaukee Bucs

Coming off a Championship win, Milwaukee is the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. Given their talent retention and chemistry, they will be fighting with Brooklyn alone for the top two spots.

2.) Brooklyn Nets

With a Healthy Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are neck-and-neck with Milwaukee. However, the Nets’ trio of stars have had injury issues in the past, so guaranteeing that will be available for the entire campaign is a tough sell, but as we saw during last year’s postseason, Durant alone is capable of beating teams.

3.) Philadelphia 76ers

Even if Philadelphia strikes a deal for Ben Simmons, they are still a favorite in the Eastern Conference and sit a level above Miami and Atlanta, putting them in the 3rd Seed.

4.) Miami Heat

The Heat got better this off-season, signing point guard Kyle Lowry and one of the best role players in the league, PJ Tucker. Tucker was a vital part of Milwaukee’s championship run last season and represents a quality veteran. They also added Markieff Morris and Victor Oladipo, adding even more talent to a stout young team.

5.) Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks completely dominated the Knicks during postseason play, but that was without Mitchell Robinson and the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. Atlanta added John Collins on a five-year, $125 million extension, retained Lou Williams, and signed Solomon Hill. They elected to keep some of their more prominent names than go fishing in the market, but they are a strong team, building chemistry quickly.

6.) New York Knicks

The New York Knicks did enough to stay out of play-in postseason contention, with the 6th Seed entirely up for grabs after Miami and Atlanta. Fournier offers a legitimate upgrade offensively over Reggie Bullock, and Kemba Walker has the potential to change the dynamic of the team entirely at the PG position. If they can remain healthy and consistent, the Knicks could be fighting with Atlanta for the fifth spot, but they are a young team with an upward trajectory, and that’s all you can ask for if you’re a Knicks fan.

7.) Boston Celtics

8.) Washington Wizards

9.) Indiana Pacers

10.) Charlotte Hornets

Overall, landing the 4th Seed or better is unlikely for the Knicks given the upgrades other teams made around them, but that doesn’t mean they will miss out on the playoffs. They still have a strong foundation built on defense, and adding more production in the scoring department will only assist in making them a better team.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone reveals role for Luis Severino for the stretch run

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The 83-67 New York Yankees lost again in Sunday against the lowly Cleveland Indians, further complicating their playoffs chances given that their two direct rivals in the Wild Card push, the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays, won.

The Yankees, now a game and a half behind Toronto for the second Wild Card berth, need all the help they can handle. Thankfully, ace Luis Severino, who has suffered nearly every injury on the book since the spring of 2020, is ready to make his much-anticipated return.

At this point, there is no time for Severino to build up his arm as a starter, because the season ends in less than two weeks. That’s why his manager, Aaron Boone, is envisioning a bullpen role for the star righty.

The Yankees need Sevy more than ever

After overcoming elbow, groin, and shoulder injuries, Severino is ready to help in a relief role. Boone described what his role could be to MLB.com.

“His last live outing was two [innings] and 35 [pitches], so we view him from anything from an inning in some situations to possibly two- or three-inning scenarios that I think he’ll be able to handle,” Boone said.

Severino threw that live batting-practice session at Yankee Stadium on Friday. His right arm, currently sitting in the 96 mph range, has all the necessary talent to succeed in a relief role, and the Yankees need help there, more than ever.

They lost Darren O’Day and Zack Britton for the year, Chad Green is clearly fatigued, and Jonathan Loaisiga, while he has made progress, remains sidelined with a rotator cuff injury.

The Yankees, however, don’t see Severino as an opener.

“I would never say never,” Boone said, “but hopefully moving forward, we’ve got our four or five starters that have been pitching in the rotation and we feel good about.

“I guess if you get down towards the end and you get into a playoff scenario, anything is possible. But first things first is getting him back and getting him in a big league game at some point.”

New York Yankees 9/20: 3 Major takeaways from the Yankees’ 11 run bashing

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

After the New York Yankees blew out the Indians with a shutout in the first game, and an embarrassing loss in the second game hoped to at least salvage a game to take the series in the rubber game. Instead, the Yankees played a sloppy game resulting in another 11 run bashing.

Ace Cole bombs out big time

The last thing any New York Yankee fan would have thought going into yesterday’s matinee was that Yankee ace Gerrit Cole would give up seven runs and lose the game for the Yankees. After a disastrous loss on Saturday, Yankees fans were looking to exhale and watch their ace cruise to a win of both the game and the series with the Cleveland Indians, but the exact opposite happened.

Yankee fans woke up Sunday morning bright and cheery as they would watch a game against the poor hitting Cleveland team with their ace on the mound facing a rookie pitcher with an ERA over 6. Unfortunately, that cheery feeling disappeared pretty quickly in the first inning when Cole, right off the bat gave up two runs in the first inning. He hit the first batter he faced; that should have been telling for what was about to unravel the Yankees into a shameful 11-1 loss.

In an after-game interview, Cole seemed to indicate that he thought he didn’t have that bad of a game but was unlucky. However, he did admit that he had trouble finding that put-out pitch. To anyone watching Cole pitch, it was evident that Cole didn’t have control of his pitches. In the end, Cole only went 5.2 innings using 98 pitches, ten of which were hits and giving up 7 runs. Cole, when he is on, gets better and better as the game progresses. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen yesterday; Perez knocked him out of the game when he homered off Cole in the sixth inning.

Where have all the hitters gone?

In the first game of the Cleveland series, the New York Yankees looked like the Bronx Bombers of old, hitting five home runs in the game and getting 11 hits while leaving only one player in scoring position. It was a game that the Yankees shut out the Indians. But in game two, a different team arrived on the field. The Yankees could only bring 3 runs across home plate, and the Yankee pitching failed miserably, with Luis Gil, Albert Abreu, and Andrew Heaney giving up 11 runs between the trio. Gil was rewarded by being demoted to the Rail Riders.

Yesterday, against a mediocre rookie pitcher at best, the Yankees could only plate one home run by Gio Urshela. The Yankees had 8 hits but couldn’t generate them into runs. The Yankees could only score one run against a crummy pitcher. The Yankees showed no urgency in winning as they played sloppy baseball, scoring more errors than runs.

Yankees need to thank the Red Sox, the Wild-Card story

The Yankees are holding on to dear life the hope of reaching the postseason, not winning the division but securing a wild card spot. For ten games, the Yankees held on to home-field advantage securing the number one spot. But then they started to play 5-5 baseball as the Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays surged. Many fans don’t realize that the only reason the Yankees have any chance of a wild card berth is because of the Red Sox collapse during August when they went 7-20.

Right now, the Yankees are 1.5 games out of a berth, looking in at the Toronto Blue Jays and the leading Boston Red Sox. Even more unnerving is that the Oakland Athletics are just one game away from taking the Yankees position. During a soft period in the Yankee schedule, they have only gone 5-5, when they should have dominated. The Yankees have just one more chance of dominating, and that starts today over the Texas Rangers, another team under .500 (.369).

It is a near must for the New York Yankees to sweep the Rangers. After that, they face teams that are ahead of them. They play three against the Boston Red Sox and three against the Toronto Blue Jays, all six away. Then the best the Yankees can hope for is to return to Yankee Stadium for the last three games of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays still in contention.

Last night after the embarrassing second loss to the Indians, manager Aaron Boone who has spent the entire season boasted about the Yankees’ potential, uttered the truest words to come from his mouth.

“We’ve got to get better in a hurry. Period.”

Yankees could pass on crazy shortstop market in favor of star prospect

yankees, trevor story

Despite giving Gleyber Torres plenty of opportunities to lock down the shortstop position, the New York Yankees have finally come to the conclusion that he can no longer be their long-term option. Torres, who started out as a second baseman and transitioned to shortstop, has struggled mightily this year, posting a .962 fielding percentage. With a league average .982 percentage at SS, the 24-year-old infielder will head back to second base, shifting DJ LeMahieu to third base and Gio Urshela to SS.

With that being the case, the Yankees are preparing for the likelihood they will be active in the free-agent market, trying to fill the spot. There will be multiple big names available, including Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez, and Trevor Story. These are four options that would immediately upgrade the spot, providing solid defense and adequate offensive production.

Lately, Correa has been linked as a potential option for the Bombers, and considering the season he’s having, he would be a phenomenal addition. Over 137 games this year, Correa has 24 homers, 85 RBIs, and is hitting .280. Correa could avoid the Yankees given their complicated history, but there is an alternate route the Bombers could take that would avoid paying big money to another free agent.

With Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton both on $300+ million contracts, general manager Brian Cashman might not have the authorization to hand out another behemoth deal. In that scenario, they could look to star prospect Anthony Volpe, who’s having a fantastic season with the A+ Hudson Valley Renegades.

Waiting for him to be ready could be a necessity, as he’s currently hitting .286 with 15 homers and 37 RBIs over 20 games. He’s absolutely destroying offensively, turning into a legitimate slugger.

If the Yankees are willing to fill the SS spot in the short term while they wait for him to reach the MLB level, it could be a positive move. They could cement Urshela at the position and LeMahieu at third base, which would cover them defensively. That would indicate an extension for Anthony Rizzo at first base and Torres taking over the second base spot full-time. Eventually, they can move Gio back to the hot corner, LeMahieu to first base, and Volpe at shortstop.

Nonetheless, management has a difficult decision to make at one of the most critical positions in the infield, but knowing the Yankees, they will be looking to splash the cash before they wait for a prospect.

Assessing the Chicago Bears offense in week two

Sunday afternoon proved to be fruitful for Chicago Bears fans. Not only did the Bears come away with a victory but Chicago also got an extended look at rookie quarterback Justin Fields for the first time in the regular season with veteran Andy Dalton leaving the game due to a knee injury.

Fields playing a majority of the game doesn’t mean he’ll be the starter moving forward but the Bears coaching staff now has to make a decision to make: Should the Bears continue to roll with Dalton if healthy or start Fields and bring the future to the present? The final call with be made by head coach Matt Nagy but Fields performance on Sunday while leading the offense could be enough to name the 11th overall pick the starter.

Chicago’s offense showed plenty of positives on Sunday, including the ability to consistently move the ball through the air with a vertical passing game but for every positive, there seemed to be a negative. Wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney each dropped two touchdown passes that would’ve iced the game by at least two possessions.

Fields’ mobility was apparent throughout the afternoon, as the rookie rushed 10 times for 31 yards, including a 10-yard rush with 2:55 remaining in the fourth quarter to set the Bears up with a first-down to end the game. Chicago did run some RPO looks, ensuring that Cincinnati’s defense would need to account for running back David Montgomery on every play. Montgomery, who rushed 20 times for 61 yards had three receptions for 18 yards, impacting Chicago’s passing attack during a busy afternoon for the third-year running back.

Overall, Chicago’s offense put together a solid enough performance to warrant being able to compete with any opponent. The Bears may not be explosive as Nagy wants to be just yet, something that will come with time but week 2 was encouraging for both the present and future.

 

Knicks News: Frank Ntilikina posts farewell, Julius Randle raves about RJ Barrett

new york knicks, rj barrett

The age of Frank Ntilikina has finally come to an end for the New York Knicks, who selected him 8th overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. Funny enough, Ntilikina signed a fresh contract with the Dallas Mavericks this past week, who were also intrigued by the French native in that draft class.

During his time in New York, Ntilikina failed to establish himself as a primary point guard in one of the most hostile markets. He averaged just 5.5 points over four years, never hitting double-digit numbers in the category. He also only recorded 2.7 assists per game and shot 36.7% from the field. His playing time dropped off significantly during his final season with the Knicks, playing in just 33 games and starting four. Despite his difficult experience, Ntilikina had nothing but good things to say about the fans in New York.

Frank Ntilikina posted a heartfelt message to Knicks fans after signing a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks:

NEW YORK,

4 years, 4 years already… I remember the day of the draft like it was yesterday, One of my childhood dreams then became reality.

Playing for the Knicks has truly been a blessing and an amazing experience. You welcomed a kid who just left home in order to pursue his dreams and goals, and to continuously grow. I could not ask for more.

I would like to thank the entire franchise, the coaches, players, all members of training and medical staff and all the people who work hard every day for the success of this organization over the years.

Last but not least, to all the Knicks fans around the world… Thank you ! The support has been amazing from day 1.
Wins and losses, highs and lows, we have all seen one thing for sure, and that is that the passion and the love for basketball stays unbeaten through it all.

I am leaving now to open a new chapter in my journey, forever grateful for the opportunity.

The French Prince 🇫🇷👑

Julius Randle raves about RJ Barrett’s growth:

All-Star power forward Julius Randle has taken on a leadership role ever since he took a huge step forward in his development last year. Randle was the offensive leader on a team that desperately needed a star to take control and has since fueled the hungry organization in search of prolonged success.

Part of his leadership role is to help his teammates continue developing and staying proactive. Working closely with RJ Barrett has been a necessity for Randle, and he had nothing but great things to say about his growth and what makes him a unique talent.

”He just keeps improving. You can tell the guys who really love the game and dedicate themselves to their craft; he’s one of them.”

During Barrett’s second season last year, he saw improvements in nearly every category, averaging 17.6 points, 3.0 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and shooting 44.1% from the field. He saw an 8% increase in his three-point shooting, elevating it to 40.1%. His free-throw shooting also saw a 13% increase to 74.6%, and with his talents in the paint, getting to the free-throw line is a byproduct.

The duo of Randle and Barrett has the potential to be elite, and this upcoming season should see even better chemistry and flow between the two.

How should the New York Giants use Kadarius Toney moving forward?

new york giants, kadarius toney

When the New York Giants drafted Kadarius Toney with the 20th overall pick, they added a versatile weapon on offense who could be used in many different creative ways. With gadget utilities and raw athleticism, Toney was one of the best receivers regarding missed tackles forced during his final year with Florida in 2020. He lead receivers in college last season with a 30% missed tackle rate, showcasing his strengths as he adapts to the NFL and finds his way into the Giants’ scheme.

However, the team has seldom used Toney, featuring him in just 24 offensive snaps through two weeks against Denver and Washington. He has only touched the football twice, both on design plays that failed to produce any positive gains.

The media quickly began to spin stories and rumors regarding his usage and the frustration that was boiling. Toney took to social media to express his emotions, later taking a shot at the media for starting a negative narrative.

However, the Giants are underutilizing Toney, who clearly could help on offense. Every team‘s first-round pick should have an instant impact unless you are developing a quarterback to take over for a veteran, in which case represents a different scenario. When drafting impact weapons on offense and skill position players, they need to be featured early and often to help them adjust to the physicality and speed of the game at the next level.

How the New York Giants can get Toney involved moving forward:

Toney is far more than just a gadget player, with solid route running and unique abilities in the open field. Some ways the Giants can get Toney more involved include using him as a punt returner and featuring him in bunch formations alongside Sterling Shepard in the interior. With Kenny Golladay also taking snaps from the slot, Toney could be pushed outside and supplement reps from Darius Slayton, who had a costly drop against Washington in Week 2, which ended up being the difference in the game.

Having dropped just four passes over four seasons with Florida, there’s no question he is a reliable target that can contribute toward a more efficient unit. Given the Giants scored just seven meaningful points in Week 1, they bounced back with a far more extensive and aggressive strategy against Washington, scoring 29 points. The Giants scored more than 29 points just once in 2020, so they’ve already gotten off to a decent start in context with Jason Garrett’s vanilla scheme.

There are two reasons the Giants might be holding back from unleashing Kadarius:

First, he could be dealing with an injury and recovering from Covid, so they want to take a more cautious approach with his health. Alternatively, the Giants are still developing their scheme and adding new elements every week, so perfecting the base concepts and expanding that route tree could be more prevalent in the short term. With Toney’s unique skill set, they might be waiting to add his qualities at the right time when the offense has momentum, and they’ve begun stringing together consistent performances with their more established players.