Yankees making big starting pitching shift in first game of series against White Sox

luis gil, yankees

The New York Yankees’ starting pitchers have been phenomenal to open the 2022 season, but manager Aaron Boone is trying to cover up a bit of fatigue and supplement on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Yankees are starting an 8-game road trip, facing off against the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. On Thursday, Luis Gil will get the start, giving some of the regular rotational options a day off. Having played a doubleheader on Sunday, the Yankees were backed up a bit, calling on Gil as their first option.

Gil enjoyed six appearances last year over 29.1 innings. He posted a 3.07 ERA with 11.66 strikeouts per nine and an 84.3% left on base rate. At just 23 years old, Gil proved he could dominate at the MLB level, despite showing a bit of inconsistency toward the end of his short stint with the Yankees.

“The talent is obviously there. When he came up here last year he pitched well for us. Pitched in some important games for us,” Boone said before Tuesday’s game. “He’s gotten off to a bit of a slow start in Triple-A but came off his best outing and has built up a starter’s load… he’s the guy to go to at this moment.”

Over five games this season, Gil has earned a 9.53 ERA and 13.24 strikeouts per nine. Overall, Gil has not looked good this season. However, in his most recent start against Rochester, he threw 78 pitches over five innings, striking out nine batters and giving up one homer and two earned runs. Aside from one poor pitch, Gil looked stout, and the Yankees clearly feel he can translate to the MLB level.

“We feel like he’s the guy to go to in this moment.”

Gil has given up a minimum of two runs in every start this season, which is a bit concerning given how good he looked last year. He predominantly utilizes a fastball, slider, and change-up. His fastball hovers around 96 mph but touched triple digits in 2021, showcasing a blazing rising fastball.

Luis does have trouble hanging sliders over the middle of the plate, so he needs to show a bit better location with his break. However, we can expect him to heavily rely on his fastball on Thursday against Chicago, a team that currently hosts a 15–14 record but has enjoyed seven wins over the last eight games.

Good news and bad news as Yankees complete series sweep over Toronto

gleyber torres, yankees

The New York Yankees faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon in the final game of a two-game series. After Aaron Judge walked off an exciting win on Tuesday night, the Bombers got right back to it, securing another win before heading on an eight-game road trip starting on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees after series sweep over Toronto:

Starting pitcher Jameson Taillon Struggled considerably, loading the bases with no outs but thankfully got out of the inning, allowing just one run. If not for a strikeout and foul out to first base, the Yankees might’ve had a bit more trouble stifling a hot start from Toronto.

However, Taillon ended up having a solid performance, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings. He struck out only four batters but worked his way out of trouble on a number of occasions, giving up six hits. Jameson hosts a 2.93 ERA this season, but has gotten away with a few problematic performances. Nonetheless, the Yankees’ offense did enough to put away Toronto for the second consecutive game and elevate their record to 22–8.

With Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson getting the day off, Marwin Gonzalez and DJ LeMahieu filled in at their respective positions. LeMahieu went 2-for-4, posting two runs and contributing efficient defense at the hot corner. Gleyber Torres stole the day, though, recording a season-high five RBIs, courtesy of a three-run homer in the 4th inning and a two-run single in the 6th.

As a whole, the team recorded eight hits and struck out just six times in the win. Aroldis Chapman did his best to try and blow the save, giving up a double to start off the inning to Santiago Espinal and walked Vinny Capra before Toronto’s bats went quiet.

The Yankees host the top spot in the AL East with a 4.5 game cushion and rank as the best team in baseball, with one game over the Los Angeles Dodgers in second place.

Aaron Judge bet on himself and the Yankees are going to have to pay up as a result

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Right now, the Yankees are currently playing the Blue Jays to wrap-up their short two-game stint against the Jays. At the time of writing this, New York is holding onto a lead and it would be a huge win coming off the heels of the massive win that took place last night.

Last night, the Yankees were down two runs going into the ninth inning. After a couple of walks, Aaron Judge stepped up to the plate. Despite being arguably the most feared power-hitter in baseball, Judge had never hit a walk-off home run in his career with the Yankees.

That changed last night. On a 1-2 count, Judge caught a hanging slider and hit it 450 feet into the second deck in left field. The shot secured a win for the Yankees and it secured the top spot in MLB’s home run rankings to Aaron Judge.

Thus far in the 2022 season, Aaron Judge is off to a tremendous start. You can make the argument that the Yankees star is off to the best start of his career. It’s either this year or 2017 for the superstar outfielder.

Yankees Need To Pay Up

Before the season started, the Yankees tried to ink Judge to a lengthy extension. Specifically, New York came forward with a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension that would start after this year.

The AAV of the deal would pay Judge $30.5 million a year which seems like a good offer. Now, I think we all know that Judge is worth more than $30.5 million a year especially to the New York Yankees.

Judge and his reps knew that fact as well. The Yankees came forward with a fair offer considering the fact that Judge has been an injury-prone player since his MVP contending season in 2017.

However, Judge was healthy last season and he’s remained healthy this season while playing at the highest level of his career. Entering his free agency year, Judge and his reps rejected the offer that New York threw out.

Some, including myself, thought it was a risky move by the Yankees star. However, if he keeps playing the way he is, it was a stroke of genius. The power-move was just another testament to the greatness and confidence of Aaron Judge.

I truly believe that Aaron Judge will spend his entire career with the Yankees. They cannot let him walk. That being said, their offer is going to have to come up in a big way especially if he keeps playing at this level.

While Judge said talks would have to wait until the season is over, don’t be surprised if Cashman is slowly upping the offer behind the scenes. Cashman said they wouldn’t comment on in publicly moving forward. This will be definitely something to watch as the season goes on.

After winning strawweight title at UFC 274, what’s next for Carla Esparza?

This past Saturday at UFC 274, the strawweight title was on the line in a rematch from the innagural strawweight title fight. The rematch featured Rose Namajunas (11-5) taking on Carla Esparza (19-6).

Back in 2014, Esparza submitted Namajunas to become the first ever UFC strawweight champion. Immediately in 2015, Esparza dropped the title and she’s been scratching and clawing her way back since then.

Namajunas went on to become one of the best female pound-for-pound fighters in the world and became the first two-time champion. Esparza was trying to become a two-time champion herself at UFC 274.

While many were hyped for the fight, the fight fell well short of expectations. I mean let’s call it like it is, the fight absolutely sucked on Saturday. Throughout the course of five rounds, we mainly saw Namajunas circling on the outside and throwing feints.

Meanwhile Esparza would at least try to engage, but was ineffective for the most part. That said, she did get a couple of brief takedowns which swung a couple of rounds. Those proved to be pivotal as the night ended in a split decision. When the scorecards were read, Carla Esparza was declared the winner and the new UFC strawweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 274?

Fights like Saturday night are why MMA is the most exciting and unpredictable sport in the world. Rose Namajunas is a combined 5-1 against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Zhang Weili, and Jessica Andrade. Yet, she is now 0-2 against Carla Esparza.

That is just wild to me. I’m really not trying to disrespect Esparza, but I don’t believe she’s better than any of the three contenders listed in Namajunas’ resume. Yet, she’s defeated Thug Rose twice and now she’s the UFC strawweight champion for a second time.

So, what’s next for the champ? Well, Dana White hinted at it at the post-fight press conference on Saturday night. Next month, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will be rematching at UFC 275.

Whoever wins that fight is likely getting the next title shot. Marina Rodriguez is another contender with an outside chance, but I don’t see that happening. In my opinion, I think Rodriguez and Andrade might get paired up next.

So what about the former champion in Namajunas? Well, Thug Rose is 0-2 and after that last fight, nobody is asking for the rematch. Namajunas will need another win before she gets a crack at becoming a three-time UFC champion.

Mets get some good news as star pitcher starts throwing program

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom hasn’t been able to pitch in 2022 after suffering a stress reaction on his right scapula a few weeks ago. The rotation has been able to hold down the fort and then some during his absence, but they need the best pitcher in baseball back when he is fully healthy.

He was sent to the 60-day injured list this week, but not because he suffered a setback: the Mets made a waiver claim and it was a procedural move that doesn’t really affect his timeline.

The good news is that deGrom has already started his throwing program, in early May, according to Mets’ beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo. He is expected back next month, but the earliest he can return would be mid-June.

The Mets hope to have him back soon

“deGrom restarted a throwing program in early May, in advance of an MRI — his third since late March — that he will undergo around the middle of the month. Prior to throwing, deGrom had spent his time loading and strengthening his shoulder, which entailed a series of resistance exercises. If all goes well, deGrom’s progression will take him from flat ground to bullpen sessions and eventually to Minor League game action, with the goal of making it back before the All-Star break. But the timeline is fluid. deGrom hasn’t pitched since being diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right shoulder at the end of Spring Training,” DiComo wrote.

Last season was full of injuries for deGrom, who ended up pitching just 92 innings for the Mets. They were magnificent, though, as he had a 1.08 ERA and struck out 45.1 percent of the hitters he faced. But he suffered lat, shoulder, and elbow issues that ultimately ended his season in July.

This time, it was his scapula the one that barked, and the Mets just want to have him healthy and on a roll in time for the stretch run and the playoffs.

Yankees’ uber-prospect is turning things around after a miserable start of the season

New York Yankees, Jasson Dominguez

A scout recently called out New York Yankees’ uber-prospect Jasson Dominguez, saying he has been “getting worse” this year while repeating Low-A. The 19-year-old is hitting .252/.300/.417 with three homers and a .717 OPS in 110 plate appearances.

He had a .732 OPS in 214 plate appearances at the same level last year, so maybe the scout is right. But the “Martian” appears to have learned about that review and taken things personal, because he has been raking for the last few days.

Dominguez, one of the Yankees’ top prospects, had a night to remember on Tuesday, as he went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double, a home run, and four RBI. He finished just a triple shy of the cycle in a marvelous performance.

Dominguez, who is still just 19 years old and one of the youngest players on his level, is starting to heat up at the plate after he, according to the scout who talked to NJ Advance Media, looked lost in many of his at-bats.

The Yankees prospect is raking

Since May 3, a span of seven games, the Yankees’ prospect is slashing .345/.441/.690 with four doubles, two homers, and a 1.131 OPS. That is the player the Bombers thought they were signing when they paid a $5 million bonus. It’s still early, and a seven-game sample is not enough to declare him ready to advance to High-A, but it’s obviously a step in the right direction for the formerly struggling outfielder.

He has scored 10 runs and driven in seven over that span, with five walks, eight strikeouts, and a stolen base. In other words, he is finally showcasing the five tools he was famous for.

The Yankees are hoping he can maintain his current level of performance and leave his early-season struggles behind. The season is long, and the sky is the limit, but he looks like a guy who will need some time to adjust to every level. That is not a knock on him, and is perfectly fine.

Knicks draft stash Rokas Jokubaitis named Euroleague’s Rising Star

rokas jokubaitis, knicks

Add Rokas Jokubaitis to the New York Knicks’ solid draft picks under Leon Rose’s leadership.

The 21-year-old Lithuanian guard won the Euroleague’s Rising Star winner after helping FC Barcelona reach the Final Four.

Jokubaitis, the 34th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, led all Rising Stars-eligible players with 7.2 points, 2.8 assists and a 7.6 average performance index rating. The 6-foot-4 playmaker is having a historic season, knocking down 59.5 percent of his three-pointers. He is on the verge of becoming just the second player in Euroleague history to lead any season with 60 percent or better accuracy from behind the arc if he sustains his form in the Final Four.

Jokubaitis is the third FC Barcelona player after Alex Abrines (2016) and Ricky Rubio (2010) and the first Lithuanian to win the Rising Star Trophy. He beat projected 2023 NBA’s first overall pick Victor Wembanyama of LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and Marek Blazevic of Zalgiris Kaunas in the coaches’ voting.

A gun-shy Jokubaitis picked things up quickly with his new club.

But Jokubaitis downplayed his historic marksmanship this season in March.
“It is a strange phenomenon. We all understand that [58 percent] are not because I am a dangerous shooter,” Jokubaitis said. “My shooting selection allows me to cheat stats. Really, I don’t even know how I manage to do it, but it’s fun that hard practice brings the results.”

Jokubaitis has three more years left in his contract after this season. He plans to join the Knicks in the NBA Summer League again and return to Euroleague for one more season.

A Knicks contingent went to see Jokubaitis in February, and the Lithuanian guard said they saw what they wanted to see and added, “now everything is in their hands.”

But Jokubaitis also wants to be 100-percent ready when he jumps to the NBA. He wanted to avoid becoming just another Euroleague talent on the bench.

“What I understand now and did not understand before is that there are a lot of players who come back to Europe, which means that maybe they were not prepared 100% for the NBA,” Jokubaitis told Basketnews in February.

“When I feel that I am fully prepared, and I have taken everything from Europe, then I will think about going there. I am not saying that I am not ready, but I am focused on other things.”

He later clarified in another interview in March about his future plans to join the Knicks.

“Some people thought this was my thinking about titles, but I meant something else. It will happen when I feel inside that I have reached my maximum in terms of my improvement,” Jokubaitis said.

“There are many bad examples, like Kevin Pangos, who dominated the EuroLeague. It’s the NBA where even the best European players don’t fit in.”

He is likely coming over to join the Knicks in the Summer League but intends to play another season for FC Barcelona.

“Two years or so will pass, and I’ll talk to my agent about going to the NBA. But before that, I’ll have to feel 100 percent confident that at least I’ll have a chance to fight for the minutes,” Jokubaitis said.

“For example, I come to the US, and they say that you will play in the G League, and sometimes you will be with the main team. Then it’s better to improve in the EuroLeague.”

If everything goes according to plan, Jokubaitis will join the Knicks in the 2023-24 season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

After huge knockout win at UFC 274, what’s next for Michael Chandler?

MMA, UFC, michael chandler

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC 274, we saw a matchup between two top lightweight contenders who really needed a win. Former interim UFC champion Tony Ferguson (25-7) was trying to avoid a fourth straight loss as he took on former title challenger Michael Chandler (23-7).

This fight promised action and it didn’t disappoint. In the opening part of the first round, it was El Cucuy that took charge. Ferguson was able to briefly drop Chandler with a quick check hook and he spent the majority of the first round stalking Chandler.

Chandler was swinging wild with power punches after getting hurt, but nothing was really landing on Ferguson. Then, Chandler decided to switch to his wrestling used a power double-leg to take down the former UFC interim champion.

However, Ferguson was comfortable on his back and started slicing Chandler up with elbows. Chandler landed some good shots, but Ferguson likely took the first round. Ferguson was smiling in between rounds, but that smile would quickly fade.

Just seconds into the second round, Chandler pushed forward and caught Ferguson flush with front kick to the face. In one of the more devastating knockouts you’ll ever see, Ferguson crumbled to the ground and Chandler picked up his second win in the UFC.

What’s next after UFC 274?

After the knockout win, Chandler showed off his promo skills once again at UFC 274. He took the stage to call out the guys in the main event and he also called out “The Notorious” Conor McGregor for a fight at 170 pounds.

That potential fight is one that Dana White said he liked at the UFC 274 post-fight press conference. However, there’s another fight that’s materialized in the last day or so that might come together rather quickly.

Nate Diaz has been calling for a fight for a while now. The UFC has kept him on ice hoping to book him against either Conor McGregor or Khamzat Chimaev. Diaz just wants to fight and he called for a fight with Chandler at 170 pounds.

Chandler has already said he’s game and that could be a fight that they decide to make. I’m confident in saying that Chandler will be facing one of the following three next: Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, or Dustin Poirier.

While he didn’t call out Poirier at UFC 274, I don’t think anyone would turn down watching that fight. If the Diaz or McGregor fights don’t come together, I’m expecting The Diamond to be the next opponent for Iron Mike.

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux and Graham Gano come together to exchange No. 5 for a great cause

graham gano, kayvon thibodeaux, giants

When the New York Giants drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux with the 5th overall selection, that wasn’t the only No. 5 he was going to steal. Thibodeaux had his eyes set on acquiring the No. 5 jersey, which kicker Graham Gano previously owned before they struck a deal to exchange the number.

Gano transitioned to No. 5 from No. 6 after his first year with the New York Giants, spending multiple seasons with the Carolina Panthers as the No. 9. He enjoyed his lone Pro Bowl season wearing that number, so he’s preparing to transition back and grab some of that good luck.

“When he said he was willing to give to that, I can be No. 9 and maybe in 10-15 years when he retires and I’m still kicking, I can get No. 5 back,” joked the 35-year-old Gano, who also wore No. 9 during his Pro Bowl run in Carolina, per Giants.com. “The opportunity to give to something is exciting, and the number is obviously very special to Kayvon. While it is special to me as well, there’s a whole lot of meaning in that No. 5 to him. I just wanted to be a good teammate and also be able to support others throughout the whole process.”

In exchange for 5, Thibodeau offered $50K to Gano, who chose a great charity to donate the money to, spreading positivity instead of taking it for himself.

“I feel like it was where the money that Kayvon was donating would be able to make the largest impact and help the most people throughout him giving that money,” Gano said. “The whole idea behind the number five being special to myself and being special to Kayvon was being able to help five people get the five dogs and be able to make an impact in five people’s lives for the better. That was the whole goal behind that. I’m really excited about it.”

The money will go to Puppies Behind Bars, a program that trains incarcerated individuals to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders. This is a great opportunity to give back to a community of incarcerated individuals that aren’t given an opportunity to redeem themselves. This program offers them a second chance at giving back and learning what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it.

Who will be next for Charles Oliveira after UFC 274?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 274, Charles Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC) was supposed to defend his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje (23-4). However, Oliveira weighed in just .5 pounds over the 155 pound limit and as a result, he was stripped of his UFC title.

Oliveira became the first champion in the history of the promotion to lose his title on the scale. That being said, the fight still went forward and Gaethje had a chance to become champion. Oliveira had a chance to keep himself as number one and fight for the vacant title next.

The fight started out crazy at UFC 274. In the opening seconds, Oliveira seemingly wobbled Gaethje with a big shot over the top. Then, when things got crazy in close, Gaethje was able to hurt and drop Oliveira.

Gaethje hurt Oliveira again later in the round, but I think Oliveira fell to his back on purpose. Oliveira also pulled guard during one of the clinch exchanges. The UFC 274 main event was back and forth and then everything changed just halfway through the round.

Oliveira blasted Gaethje with a right hand that set him down. Immediately, Oliveira jumped on him looking for a submission. Gaethje forced a scramble only to give up his back. Oliveira locked in the rear naked choke and Gaethje was forced to tap.

What’s next after UFC 274?

Let’s be very clear, Charles Oliveira is the best lightweight in the UFC and it’s not close at the moment. He also was essentially screwed at the weigh-ins last Friday. Now before you go crazy, hear me out.

We’ve seen champions over the years be given a ton of grace on the scales. Look at Khabib’s weigh-in for UFC 254 and tell me with a straight face that he was 155 pounds. He was 100% over and was given grace by the guy manning the scale.

Unfortunately for the former UFC champion, he was given no grace and had a stickler manning the scale. So because of that and .5 pounds, Oliveira is not the UFC lightweight champion although the public rightfully views him as the champion.

So who should be next for Oliveira? Well, there seems to be the most heat surrounding a fight between him and Islam Makhachev. While that could be the leading candidate, it’s not a forgone conclusion.

As crazy as it sounds, Conor McGregor could very well be in the discussion and we know Oliveira wants that fight. If I was to guess, I think the UFC moves forward with Islam Makhachev. But with Conor McGregor looming, you truly never know.