Yankees’ projected opening day starting pitching rotation released

yankees, gerrit cole, jordan montgomery, jameson taillon, luis severino

There are concerns regarding the New York Yankees’ starting pitching rotation as opening day nears on April 7. General manager Brian Cashman has done very little to inject more talent into the rotation via regency or trade this off-season. While the team has been connected to the Oakland Athletics, who were shopping Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, nothing has materialized up to this point.

It seems as if Cashman will leave the rotation alone for now, hoping several injury-prone players prove their consistency this year, which is an extremely risky approach.

According to MLB Network’s Meredith Marakovits, the Yankees’ projected 2022 starting rotation come the regular season is:

1.) Gerrit Cole

Cole is the team’s ace without question, recording a 3.23 ERA last season over 30 games and 181.1 innings. This was his worst campaign since 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he was still dominant and is gearing up for another stellar year.

2.) Luis Severino

Severino has only pitched 18 innings in the past three years, making him a serious liability. Severino hosts a 17.18 ERA this spring over two games, giving up eight hits and one homer in 3.2 innings pitched.

Considering Severino is projected to be the team’s No. 2 starter, it is a clear indication of management’s optimism he can return to his previous self. The last time Severino hosted a dominant campaign was back in 2018, but that was a long time ago, and the once-promising starting pitcher has been dealt a number of serious injury blows.

While Severino has shown flashes of good velocity and pitch efficiency, his execution has been poor this spring, meaning he needs a bit more time to find his rhythm. Unfortunately, he suffered a bit of soreness after his last start, so the Yankees will err on the side of caution and have him throw a bullpen session instead of starting against the Blue Jays.

3.) Jordan Montgomery

In the No. 3 slot, the Yankees have Jordan Montgomery, who posted a 3.83 ERA last season over 157.1 innings. Montgomery is the team’s lone left-handed starter, and at 29 years old, he could be gearing up for his best year yet. Last season, Montgomery averaged a 92.7 mph fastball, the best of his career. He mixed in a cutter 13.8% of the time, up from 5.4% in 2020.

4.) Jameson Taillon

When the Yankees acquired Jamison Taillon from the Pirates, they imagined he would be a perfect one-two punch behind Cole.

Cole and Taillon are good friends, but the latter of the two struggled to find his groove wearing pinstripes. Last year, Taillon battled a number of injuries, ranging from shoulder inflammation to torn ligaments in his ankle. He still managed a 4.30 ERA over 144.1 innings, but the Yankees need more from him as he prepares to hit free agency after the 2022 campaign.

Giants Injury Update: Daniel Jones trending up after latest neck injury news

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are ready to roll into the 2022 season with Daniel Jones as their starter. This will be the fourth season of Daniel Jones’s NFL career. Daniel’s career has been full of peaks and valleys, with the valleys seeming to outnumber the peaks significantly. One of the factors holding Daniel Jones back has been his struggle to stay healthy. The Giants’ quarterback has missed games with injuries in each of his first three seasons. Daniel Jones missed the final six games of the 2021 season with a neck injury. But according to new head coach Brian Daboll, Daniel is progressing well with his injury and should be back on the field sooner, rather than later.

Daniel Jones injury update

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll seems confident that his quarterback will be ready to return to practice real soon. Daboll said today that Daniel Jones “should be ready to go” when the Giants open their offseason program on Monday, per Ralph Vacchiano. This is big news considering there was once concern that Jones’s injury could spill into the regular season.

What’s next for Daniel Jones and the Giants?

The Giants made a big move this offseason to protect their team from any more quarterback injuries. Tyrod Taylor was signed to a two-year contract to serve as New York’s backup quarterback. General manager Joe Schoen explained that this signing was intended to provide injury protection, rather than starter competition:

“Not looking too deep into that, Daniel has had some injuries over his career,” Schoen said. “So just to protect the team, if we’re having a good season and someone can go in there and win games we felt that was important.” – Joe Schoen on the Tyrod Taylor signing, via NJ.com

Will this fear of re-injury keep the Giants from calling rushing plays for their starting quarterback? Daniel Jones is one of the fastest quarterbacks in the NFL and is a true weapon as a rusher. However, his injury history leaves Giants fans holding their breath whenever DJ tucks and runs. When asked whether or not Daniel Jones will keep running, here is what Brian Daboll had to say:

“We’ll see, he’s athletic. He’s big. He’s strong. There’s always a balancing act at the end of day, you’ve got to use your players the best way to win a game. Daniel has a really good skillset in that regards (running), how much we use, you’ll never know.” – Brian Daboll on if he wants Daniel Jones to run more (via The Giant Insider)

The Giants have a big decision coming up regarding their quarterback’s future. The deadline to decide on Daniel Jones’s $22.38 million fifth-year option for 2023 is May 2. General manager Joe Schoen said no decision has been made yet. Time will tell what the New York Giants’ plans are for Daniel Jones’s future.

Giants’ offensive line strategy becoming clear as 2022 NFL Draft approaches

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

As the 2022 NFL Draft approaches, the New York Giants’ strategy will continue to develop and adapt to the market. With player stock values rising and falling, general manager Joe Schoen has a difficult task ahead of him, especially with plenty of positional leverage.

Having the 5th and 7th overall picks in the draft allow the Giants to make a number of different moves, whether it be staying put or trading back and acquiring more draft capital. However, one thing is for sure, the team is focused on obtaining a right tackle who can start immediately opposite Andrew Thomas.

Looking at the Giants’ free-agent signings this off-season, they landed a number of players who can start at offensive guard, but only one who will compete at right tackle, a position that currently doesn’t have a cemented starter.

Recent Giants offensive line signings:

-OG Jamil Douglas

-OT Matt Gono

-C Jon Feliciano

-OG Mark Glowinski

-OG Max Garcia

Feliciano, Glowinski, and Garcia could end up being starting linemen for the Giants this year, given they don’t draft another guard who wins the job during training camp. Gono isn’t going to turn any heads, having missed the entire 2021 season due to injury. The former Atlanta Falcon has 232 reps at right tackle, allowing one sack and 10 hurries over 206 pass blocking snaps.

Gono simply offers depth at a cheap price point, opening the door for a rookie to take over and develop. Most of the contracts the Giants signed this off-season regarding the OL are one-year deals, aside from Mark Glowinski, who landed a three-year, $20 million deal with the Giants coming off a solid campaign with the Indianapolis Colts.

Glowinski will feature at right guard next to a young rookie at RT, providing an anchor and experience at a cost-efficient price point.

Given the minimal salary space Schoen had to work with this off-season, it is quite impressive he’s managed to sign several players who can compete and provide legitimate value.

With two top-10 picks, Big Blue should have an opportunity to land one of the top three tackles in the draft. One thing is clear, management believes they can plug interior line spots seamlessly with cost-efficient free-agent signings but would rather invest a premium draft pick at tackle, which is a modern strategy.

Tom Thibodeau says no to Knicks tanking: I don’t want a quitting spirit

The New York Knicks‘ future is already here. And maybe not in this year’s lottery.

Buoyed by their young core’s stellar play and Alec Burks’ timely hits, the resurgent Knicks are riding high on a season-high four-game winning streak after a 109-104 upset of the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed Chicago Bulls.

It may not be enough to cover up the Atlanta Hawks’ 4.5-game lead over them for the final play-in spot with only seven games left to play. But it’s an important development for their future.

RJ Barrett is emerging as a leader. Immanuel Quickley is rapidly growing as a playmaker. Jericho Sims is becoming a serviceable backup center. Miles “Deuce” McBride is finally getting his due. Quentin Grimes shows he can be a solid 3-and-D when healthy. Obi Toppin is finally taking the leap. Cam Reddish showed potential before he went down with a season-ending injury.

“The big thing is we’re playing these young guys. And they’re getting valuable experience,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau stressed when asked about their recent surge could hurt their lottery chances. “You’re never eliminated until you’re eliminated. And so, I don’t want a quitting spirit in our team. I want to keep fighting. So until we’re eliminated, we’re going to keep fighting.”

After winning their ninth in their last 14 games, the Knicks’ lottery odds of landing the top overall pick in the coming NBA Draft dwindled to 1.5 percent. If they don’t move in the lottery, they are slated to pick at 12th in a top-heavy but murky draft class headed by Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Duke’s Paolo Banchero, and Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. Their odds of getting into the top four and snagging one of these young studs are currently pegged at 2.1 percent, per Tankathon.

Thibodeau is not a tank commander. He’s a battle-scarred playoff general whose vocabulary only knows winning and learning from losses.

“We’ve got a number of guys that are growing. That’s what we’re trying to do. I don’t believe in that other stuff (tanking),” Thibodeau said.

The Knicks’ young players are growing, and at the same time, they’re winning. It’s hard not to wonder why it came a little late before Thibodeau finally pushed, or was he forced to push the right buttons?

“Well, there were some good moments early on, too. We’ll do a deep dive after the season,” Thibodeau said. “I have some pretty good ideas why.”

Thibodeau has pointed to the balance — getting stronger on both sides of the ball — as the reason behind this resurgence. At the heart of it is their young core, proving that they are up to the task.

Their 9-8 record since the All-Star break or since Thibodeau finally relented to use the young guys more doesn’t reflect the growth of the team from their disappointing performance three-fourths into the season. Since the break, they have a top-5 defense (allowing only 110.5 per 100 possessions) and a middle-of-the-pack offense (14th in offensive rating with 113.8 points per 100 possessions), with more than half of Thibodeau’s rotation being 23 years old and younger.

Their net rating over that span is 3.3 points, the 10th-best in the league. Their record might have been better if they learned how to close out games better earlier.

“You’re learning. You’re dealing with finishing… There’s nothing you could do in practice that could replicate the intensity of a game,” Thibodeau said. “So why would you not use the game for your young guys to develop?”

It’s never too late for next season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Alec Burks delivers again but what is his future with Knicks?

Almost gone at the trade deadline, Alec Burks continues to prove his worth for the New York Knicks.

Maybe not as their starting point guard for next season but as a veteran leader in a Taj Gibson-like ‘break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency’ role if he stays.

Burks made a three-pointer and game-sealing defensive gem for the second straight day to extend the Knicks’ winning streak to a season-high four after escaping the playoff-bound Chicago Bulls, 109-04, Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Immanuel Quickley, whose growth as a playmaker has been a revelation, found Burks in the corner for a wide-open three-pointer that gave the Knicks a four-point cushion, 107-104, with 22 seconds left. Then Burks drew a charge from a driving DeMar DeRozan to kill any chance of a Bulls’ comeback.

“He’s been big-time,” Barrett said of Burks. “Back-to-back big-time games for AB, and we needed it. So, I’m always happy to have him on our team.”

Burks also hit a clutch three-pointer and stripped Detroit’s super-rookie Cade Cunningham for the game-sealing steal a day earlier in Detroit. The 30-year old guard has been a steady presence for the Knicks in their last eight games, scoring in double-digits. The Knicks went 6-2 over that stretch, with Burks averaging 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while hitting 46.9 percent from beyond the arc. Against the Bulls, he hit 5 of 10 three-pointers.

“Alec got going. He was terrific,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Burks was nearly shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers at the trade deadline, and Cam Reddish in a three-team swap with the Toronto Raptors. But the deal reportedly fell through because of the Knicks’ insistence to get an additional pick on top of Goran Dragic and the Raptors’ 2023 first-round pick. Nerlens Noel and Talen Horton-Tucker were supposed to go to the Raptors.

As fate would have it, Burks remained with the Knicks and won the Knicks two games during their late surge that may have come a little too late. The Atlanta Hawks maintained a 4.5-game lead with their win over the Indiana Pacers last night with only seven games left. Nonetheless, the strides of the Knicks’ young core, with a sprinkle of Burks’ steady play, had been a massive development for the organization.

The big-time question now for big-time AB is where does his future lie? Next season, his role with the Knicks is murky, with Derrick Rose expected to return and the front office setting its sights on Jalen Brunson. The growth of Quickley as a playmaker and the emergence of Quentin Grimes at the wings makes Burks expendable.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees change Gleyber Torres’s position in unique defensive look

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

While the MLB has banned the shift, the New York Yankees are still looking into a variety of different formations they can deploy to help improve defensive efficiency.

Opposing teams have used a unique strategy against the Yankees in the past, having a heavy right-hand hitting lineup. With opposite-field hitting not exactly a strength for the Bombers, teams have put four outfielders in position, taking an infielder out from the weak side and filling in gaps in the outfield.

Field manager Aaron Boone has tested the idea using second baseman Gleyber Torres in that way. Torres featured as the fourth outfielder in right field during a spring training game on Monday against the Detroit Tigers.

Evidently, the Tigers’ hitter flew out to Miguel Andujar in left field. While I wouldn’t expect to see this formation frequently, the Yankees could use it against specific batters who have a high rate of hitting the ball toward a specific part of the outfield.

“We’ve flirted with it a little bit and almost done it a couple times, but felt like we didn’t have the personnel quite right [in the past],” manager Aaron Boone said. “But we have been a little more committed to the thought of it this spring.”

The Yankees are trying to extrapolate on their talent, utilizing Torres at several different spots. Having failed the shortstop experiment last year, Torres will transition back to second base, where he features a far more efficient fielding percentage. Throughout his career, Torres has a .971 success rate at second and .950 at shortstop.

Offensively, Torres has looked great this spring, hitting .421 with eight hits and two homers over just 19 at-bats.

After another loss at UFC Columbus, what’s next for Joanne Wood?

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Columbus, we saw a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Top contenders battled it out as Joanne Wood (15-8) took on the surging Alexa Grasso (14-3).

Grasso was looking for her third straight win while Wood was hoping to avoid her third straight loss. The narrative surrounding JoJo Wood in the UFC has changed drastically from where it was a couple of years ago.

Wood’s gone from being the next in line for a title shot to barely holding a spot in the top ten. She was hoping to defeat Alexa Grasso and get back on track towards another run to the title.

However, that didn’t happen on Saturday night. Wood had some good spots at UFC Columbus including landing a beautiful spinning back elbow. However, that elbow allowed Grasso to get a body lock that ultimately decided the fight.

Grasso was able to get Wood down to the ground and eventually she was able to get her back. Once there, it didn’t take Grasso long before she locked up the rear-naked choke and secured the win at UFC Columbus.

What’s next after UFC Columbus?

As mentioned, this was a huge fight for JoJo Wood to try and right the ship after this recent stretch. Wood was originally supposed to get a crack at UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko in June of 2020.

However, Shevchenko injured her knee and needed a couple of additional months before the fight was to take place. The UFC went to Wood and said she could wait, but JoJo wanted to fight and decided to take a tune-up fight against Jennifer Maia to stay sharp.

Well, she was submitted in the first round of that fight. She was able to defeat Jessica Eye after that loss, but starting with a loss to Lauren Murphy, she’s dropped three straight fights. Wood’s gone from a UFC title shot to 1-4 in her last five fights.

So, what’s next? I think it’s time for Wood to take a step back in competition to reset. Perhaps a fight with someone like Miranda Maverick could be next. Maverick snapped a two fight losing streak in her last one and I think the fight makes sense for both fighters.

Mets’ aces Scherzer and deGrom have the luxury of learning from the best: Each other

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

When the New York Mets signed star pitcher Max Scherzer to a three-year, $130 million contract before the lockout, they knew they were getting more than just a person standing on a mound and throwing pitches to home plate: they were getting a competitive beast who would do everything to beat his rivals.

The Mets now have Jacob deGrom and Scherzer at the top of their rotation, which is actually unfair for opposing hitters: the former had a 1.08 ERA in 92 innings last season, striking out 45.1 percent of the hitters he faced, while the newcomer finished 2021 with a 2.46 ERA in 179.1 frames.

They have five Cy Young awards between them and it’s very much in the cards that their combined tally reaches six after the season. On Sunday, they combined to pitch three runs and strike out 12 hitters in their latest spring training tune-up. deGrom started with three one-run innings, and Mad Max followed with six frames of two earned runs.

The two Mets aces are among the most competitive players in MLB

“We’re always looking to get better,” Scherzer said to the Mets’ official site. “I’m learning from him and what he can do with the baseball, how he pitches and how he sequences. That’s the best thing about this — we can all learn from each other.”

deGrom was also eager to learn from the more experienced Scherzer. “You know, he’s been in this league a long time, and he’s faced these guys a bunch,” deGrom said. “To learn how he goes after them is big.”

Both hurlers are seen as perfectionists, always looking to get the slightest of edges when they are on the mound. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have gotten even half of their achievements.

“That was fun, huh?” Mets manager Buck Showalter said after the pair convincingly beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mets fans are in for a treat in 2022.

After statement win at UFC Columbus, is a title shot next for Kai Kara-France?

kai kara france

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC Columbus, we saw a pivotal matchup in the flyweight division. Top contenders Askar Askarov (14-1-1) and Kai Kara-France (24-9) battled it out as they looked to prove that they were ready for a title shot.

Entering the contest, Askarov was a huge betting favorite. The undefeated Russian was considered by some to be the best flyweight in the UFC. That being said, Kai Kara-France is no stranger to being the underdog and he wasn’t going to back down.

The first round went how many expected the fight to go. Askarov secured at takedown and really controlled Kara-France throughout the first. He almost secured a rear-naked choke on a few occasions.

However, Kara-France turned the tables in the second round at UFC Columbus. He was able to keep the fight standing and he landed some big shots on Askarov to steal away the momentum. The third round saw less action with both men having moments.

Watching live, I thought Askarov did enough, but all three judges gave the fight to Kara-France at UFC Columbus.

What’s next after UFC Columbus?

This win was Kara-France’s third straight win inside the octagon. After he lost to Brandon Royval on Fight Island in 2020, he’s turned things around in a massive way with three straight wins while he’s been a big betting underdog.

His last three wins have come against the previously unbeaten Askarov, Rogerio Bontorin, and former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt. Now, many think that he should be next for the flyweight title.

The current plan is for the UFC to have the fourth matchup between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. They are targeting July for this fourth fight, however, Figueiredo said on Twitter that he would prefer to fight Kara-France.

I don’t see that happening and I believe the fourth fight will happen. With that, I would like to see the UFC put together a fight with Alexandre Pantoja and Kara-France perhaps on the same card as that fourth title fight.

Pantoja was supposed to get a shot at the title last year before he got injured. Kara-France is at the top of the division so why not have them fight to establish a true number one contender to take on the winner of Figgy – Moreno 4.

Giants received calls about Saquon Barkley, but GM Joe Schoen indicates his retention

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants need to clear about $10 million in salary space whether it be via trade or cutting players. Having enough money to sign their 2022 Draft Class is the priority, but it will force management to make a few difficult decisions. The expectation is that GM Joe Schoen will trade CB James Bradberry, clearing $11.7M in cap space, but running back Saquon Barkley also presents an opporunity.

Barkley has disappointed the past three years due to injury, sustaining multiple ankle ailments and an ACL tear in 2020, limiting him to just two games. The Giants would love to get the best version of Barkley, who amassed over 2,000 all-purpose yards during his electrifying rookie season. Is it realistic to expect that type of production after numerous significant injuries? Probably not, but the Giants can’t afford to be giving away play-makers if they truly belive Daniel Jones is “the guy.”

Schoen indicated on Monday that trading Barkley isn’t in the plans, but he has received calls from several teams regarding his availability.

“That was taken a little bit out of context at the combine. I haven’t called one team on Saquon Barkley,” Schoen said. “Everybody ran with that from the combine. I said I would listen if people called on any players. It would be irresponsible if I didn’t. That doesn’t mean I’m going to do every deal. So I haven’t called one team on Saquon Barkley.

The Giants haven’t been actively “shopping” Barkley, but that doesn’t mean they would stop a trade from going through if they were offered decent draft value. However, considering he was the No. 2 overall selection in 2018 and is capable of elite play, Schoen may be unwilling to give him up with one year left on his deal at $7.2 million unless it’s for a good return. Objectively, Barkley’s guaranteed cap hit isn’t exactly enticing for opposing teams.

“I’ve got calls about a few of our players. He’s one where a couple teams have reached out. But I’m not shopping Saquon Barkley.”

Even if Saquon returns to form and dominates this upcoming season, it’s extremely unlikely managements dishes out a multi-year deal worth big money for the injury-prone back. Overpaying running backs with a lot of baggage can be problematic, just ask the Dallas Cowboys who are being choked by Ezekiel Elliott’s deal.