OKC Thunder emerge as Knicks’ rival for trade-up candidate Jaden Ivey

The New York Knicks are not the only team cooking up a trade-up scenario for Purdue’s Jaden Ivey with eight days left before the NBA Draft.

Oklahoma City Thunder, with a seemingly bottomless draft capital, are also reportedly eyeing Ivey along with Shaedon Sharpe in a trade involving their No. 12 pick. Unless the Thunder offer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Josh Giddey which is highly unlikely, the Knicks have the upper hand if they engage with Sacramento for its No. 4 pick. The King’s lottery pick is reportedly widely available for a pick swap and a proven veteran who could help the Kings end their 16-year playoff drought.

The Thunder have been doing their due diligence on Ivey, including inviting him to a workout.

Ivey is the projected No. 4 pick of this year’s draft behind three freshmen — Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero.

However, Ivey is reportedly not keen on landing in Sacramento.

“The Kings aren’t Ivey’s preferred destination but have proved willing to take players without the benefit of workouts and medical information in the past, doing so as recently as a year ago when selecting Davion Mitchell,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote in his latest mock draft.

It’s an open secret that the Knicks covet Ivey after using one of their 20 interview slots at the NBA Draft Combine and being front and center in his Pro Day. Add the fact that Ivey is a Creative Artists Agency client. Ivey shares the same agent (CAA’s Austin Brown) with Knicks former lottery pick Obi Toppin.

The Knicks are reportedly monitoring Ivey’s projected range in the draft.

“Something worth noting: Members of the organization have sought information on which teams have a strong interest in Ivey. So, at the very least, they have an interest in where Ivey may go in the draft,” SNY’s Ian Begley wrote.

The 6-foot-4 Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 46% from the field and 35.8% from deep at Purdue last season.

If the Knicks missed out on Ivey, their reported options are pursuing other CAA clients — Dallas Mavericks’ breakout star Jalen Brunson in a complicated sign-and-trade or a swap for Indiana Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon.

One of Brunson’s CAA representatives is Sam Rose, the son of Knicks president Leon Rose. Meanwhile, Brogdon’s agent is also Brown.

A dark horse is Minnesota’s disgruntled point guard D’Angelo Russell, who shares the same agent (Aaron Mintz) with Knicks star Julius Randle and a player whom Knicks consultant Gersson Rosas aggressively pursued when he was still the Timberwolves president.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Zabit Magomedsharipov officially retires from the UFC

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

Today one of the best featherweights in the UFC announced his retirement after two and a half years away from the octagon. MMA Fighting reported earlier this afternoon that Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) informed the UFC that he was retiring officially from mixed martial arts.

The news comes on the heels of lots of speculation regarding Magomedsharipov’s fighting future. Zabit last fought in November of 2019 when he defeated Calvin Kattar in a short-notice main event.

Many were pegging him to be a future UFC champion. A native of Dagestan, Magomedsharipov had a unique skillset and frame that made him a very dangerous contender. He had sharp and creative striking while also possessing really solid grappling skills.

In 2020, the UFC had booked Zabit against Yair Rodriguez. This is a fight that they had tried to book multiple times. However, a month or so before the fight, Yair Rodriguez injured his ankle and the fight was called off.

A UFC “What If”

Since then, Zabit has been out of the spotlight. There have been some whispers regarding some health issues outside the octagon and recently it was said that he was taking up his medical practice outside of competition.

Zabit made his UFC debut in 2017 and over the course of two years, he went 6-0. He had really solid wins over Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar. He looked the part of a future champion, but with time away and health concerns, the fire of competition went away.

Zabit Magomedsharipov is going to go down in UFC history as a great “What if”. What if he stayed active and stayed healthy? What if he didn’t retire at the age of 31? So many questions will go unanswered now that Magomedsharipov is walking away from the UFC.

Nevertheless, Zabit was fun to watch in his time with the promotion and he will be missed in the featherweight division.

The Yankees have an unbelievable amount of pitching depth

yankees, nyy

Heading into the 2022 season, there were major concerns regarding the New York Yankees starting rotation. With Luis Severino coming off Tommy John surgery and Jameson Taillon having a tumultuous first season wearing pinstripes, expecting them to elevate their game was always optimistic.

However, both starters have left expectations by the wayside and put together phenomenal performances. Taillon currently hosts a 2.93 ERA over 67.2 innings and Severino a 2.80 ERA over 61 innings.

Overall, the Yankees’ starting rotation has been one of the best in baseball. When Gerrit Cole has the worst ERA of any pitcher on the team, you know that things are going well. Nestor Cortes has completely blown everybody out of the water with a 1.96 ERA over 64.1 innings.

Don’t forget about a surging Yankees bullpen:

The bullpen has been equally as impressive this season. They feature a dominant Clay Holmes, an exciting Michael King, and plenty of supplemental arms.

The Yankees recently underwent a bit of adversity with Aroldis Chapman being placed on the injured list with Achilles tendinitis, Chad Green undergoing Tommy John surgery, and Jonathan Loáisiga suffering from shoulder inflammation. In addition to their losses, starting pitcher Luis Gil also underwent Tommy John, so the Yankees have faced a few roadblocks.

There were questions regarding the team’s overall depth, but so far, players have stepped up admirably in the absence of regular starters. For example, Wandy Peralta has taken on a bigger role in recent days, featuring a 1.61 ERA over 22.1 innings pitched. While he features a career-low 5.24 strikeouts per nine, he hasn’t given up a home run this season and hosts an 81% left on base rate. Peralta has reduced his four-seam fastball usage and reallocated toward a sinker, tossing it at 37.8%. Pitching coach Matt Blake has done a remarkable job incorporating a sinker and cutter into both the starting and bullpen units.

The resurgence of Manny Bañuelos:

Aside from Peralta, the Yankees have also leaned on Manny Bañuelos to help supplement injury. Over 7.0 innings of action this season, Bañuelos has earned a 1.29 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts per nine and an 83.3% left on base rate. Considering Bañuelos has bounced around the MLB and failed to find a regular home, his comeback is inspiring. Bañuelos features a fastball, sinker, change-up, slider, and cutter. He has predominantly utilized his fastball, sinker, and slider this year as his primary pitches.

Opposing hitters are having a difficult time making contact with his curveball, striking out four batters on seven plate appearances. It is incredible what Matt Blake has managed to accomplish injecting new pitches into the rotation and bullpen, playing off one another.

It is also important to note the success of Ron Marinaccio over the past few games, the Yankees’ 26-year-old right-handed bullpen arm. Marinaccio has struck out six batters in his last four innings, finally settling down after a few jittery starts to open the season. If he can become a more consistent option, the Bombers will have more bullpen arms than they can possibly use.

Speaking of an unlimited number of quality arms, the Yankees have also gotten a ton of value out of Miguel Castro. The Bombers traded Joely Rodriguez to the New York Mets in exchange for Castro, a flamethrower.

This season, Castro hosts a 2.89 ERA with 9.16 strikeouts per nine. However, Castro has been getting better as the season has progressed. Casro features a 97.9 mph sinker which he throws 38.5% of the time. He also incorporates a slider at 40.2% and a change up at 21.3%. Considering Rodriguez hosts a 5.40 ERA this season, it seems as if the Yankees got the better end of the trade.

Replacing Luis Gil as the No. 6:

There was a bit of worry when Luis Gil went down given he was the first alternate in the starting rotation. The Yankees didn’t skip a beat. Management gave 26-year-old lefty JP Sears an opportunity to showcase his talent at the Major League level. Sears pitched 5.0 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, giving up three hits and striking out five batters. It is incredible to see the depth the Yankees have with both starting pitchers and relief arms. They are still working on getting back Loáisiga and Chapman, let alone the expected return of Zack Britton in August.

Don’t forget about Domingo German, who is set to participate in a Minor League game this week. He could potentially make an impact down the road in the starting rotation or as a middle-inning relief arm.

Katlyn Chookagian out, Jessica Andrade in to face Manon Fiorot at UFC Paris

UFC Paris has seen a change to the lineup and a potential title eliminator at flyweight has a new look. MMA Junkie was the first to report earlier today that Katlyn Chookagian (18-4) has been forced out of the fight on September 3rd.

Chookagian was searching for her fifth straight win and was looking to defeat Manon Fiorot (9-1) in front of her home country. However, she will have to wait to try and pick up that fifth straight win and she won’t be facing Fiorot.

Instead, former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (23-9-1) will be taking her place. MMA Junkie was also first with this news. Andrade will be moving back up to 125 pounds for this fight against Fiorot.

The former strawweight champion had recently returned to 115 pounds. She scored a first round finish over Amanda Lemos and is currently ranked near the top of the strawweight division. However, when the UFC called her to take this fight, she jumped at the opportunity. Regardless of the opponent change, this is still a huge fight for Fiorot and perhaps now it’s even bigger.

UFC Homecoming for Fiorot

After losing her professional MMA debut by split decision, Manon Fiorot has been perfect in her professional career. That includes her time inside the octagon. Fiorot made her UFC debut in January of 2021.

Since making her debut, she’s gone a perfect 4-0 which includes two stoppages. In her last fight, she took on former UFC title challenger Jennifer Maia. It was another really solid performance for Fiorot who picked up the unanimous decision victory.

Now, she’s getting the chance to fight in front of her home country. If she’s able to get a big win over Andrade at UFC Paris, she might be in line for a title shot. Given the lack of fresh challengers for Valentina Shevchenko, Fiorot has a golden opportunity. It’s up to her on whether or not she’ll be able to cash in.

3 relievers the Mets could target at the trade deadline

mets

With a 41-22 record, the New York Mets are enjoying one of the strongest starts to a season in franchise history.

New York has one of the best offenses in baseball and a rotation that figures to become exponentially better with the returns of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer imminent.

Meanwhile, Mets relievers have performed reasonably well. In fact, they rank 4th best in the National League with a 3.76 ERA.

Edwin Diaz is finally living up to the expectations that the club had for him after acquiring the reliever following his historic 2018 season with the Seattle Mariners.

However, getting Diaz the ball with the lead has been a precarious tightrope for Buck Showalter to walk.

With Trevor May on the injured list, Drew Smith looking less effective of late, and Joely Rodriguez, Adam Ottavino, and Chasen Shreve having their own struggles, the Mets could certainly look to upgrade the back end of their bullpen.

Here are three relievers that the New York Mets could target to improve their relief corps as they look to make a deep playoff run.

Jorge Lopez, RP Baltimore Orioles

Jorge Lopez entered this season looking to make a case to even remain in the big leagues.

After debuting with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015 and being traded twice, once to the Kansas City Royals and then to the Baltimore Orioles, Lopez was the owner of a 6.04 ERA over his first 104 career appearances.

This year, Lopez has made a full 180 and is one of the best relievers in Major League Baseball.

In 26 games for the Orioles, Lopez has a minuscule 0.88 ERA over his first 30.2 innings this season. A former 2nd-round pick by the Brewers, the  29-year-old may finally have put it all together.

Lopez is striking out nearly a batter per inning with 28 punchouts compared to his 13 walks issued this season.

According to Baseball Savant, Lopez is in the 93rd percentile in opponents’ average exit velocity, 98th percentile in opponents’ hard-hit percentage, and 97th percentile in fastball velocity.

The right-hander is under team control through 2025, so the cost to acquire him could be hefty. Given the short sample size of his success, it could be a risk to trade valuable assets for him. But, a team looking to put themselves over the top for 2022 may see a once-promising prospect that’s just now hitting his prime.

Scott Barlow, RP Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals are bad (I will never not enjoy taking a shot at this team after they broke my heart in the 2015 World Series). And bad teams trade their productive MLB players to help jump-start a rebuild.

Scott Barlow is one of those players. Barlow debuted with the Royals in 2018 and has quietly flown under the radar as a solid relief pitcher in his three seasons at the big league level.

From 2018 to 2021, Barlow owns a 3.46 ERA in 170 games. This year, Barlow has taken a jump into the upper echelon of elite relief pitchers.

In 26 innings this season, Barlow has pitched to a 1.73 ERA. Despite a lower strikeout rate than his career average, Barlow has the lowest WHIP of his career at 1.15. Further, Baseball Savant has Barlow in the 96th percentile in chase rate and  88th percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.

Barlow, like Lopez, is under team control through 2025. The last-place Royals will most certainly be selling at this year’s trade deadline, though, and the Mets could make a bid to add Barlow to the back end of their bullpen.

Dennis Santana, RP Texas Rangers

This one could be a bit of a stretch.  After stumbling out of the gate, the Texas Rangers have corrected their course and are a somewhat respectable 28-32 on the season. Further, Dennis Santana is under team control through 2026.

Should Texas decide to sell, Santana would be a primary target for teams looking to add to their bullpen.

Santana was drafted as an international free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers before being traded to the Rangers last June. After joining the Rangers, Santana was excellent, pitching to a 3.63 ERA in 39 appearances with Texas last year.

This year, Santana has a 1.46 ERA over 24.2 innings with a WHIP of 0.68 (!!!)

While his strikeouts are down, so too are the number of home runs he’s surrendered. Santana has yet to give up a long ball this season.

Baseball Savant has Santana ranked in the top 90th percentile in five different categories and within the top 88th percentile in three others.

His FIP of 2.65 suggests there will be some regression to the norm, however, a team looking to add a quality arm for the stretch run this season could find themselves a dominant solution in Santana.

Bellator 283 announced featuring a title fight and title eliminator

Yesterday Bellator made waves with announcing a huge card that will go down next month. On July 22nd, Bellator 283 will go down in Tacoma, Washington and the lightweight title is on the line in the main event.

Patricky Pitbull (24-10) will be making the first defense of his lightweight title as he takes on top contender Sidney Outlaw (16-4). Outlaw will make the walk at Bellator 283 coming off of back-to-back wins that earned him this title shot.

The last time we saw him was at Bellator 261 when he defeated Myles Jury by submission. Outlaw first came to Bellator in 2019 and he’s gone 3-1 in his four fights with the promotion. The lone loss was a knockout loss to Michael Chandler back in 2019.

Since 2016, Patricky Pitbull has been one of the very best lightweights that Bellator had to offer. Since 2016, Pitbull has gone 10-3 and has wins over the likes of Benson Henderson, Josh Thomson and Peter Queally. At Bellator 270, he knocked out Queally to become the lightweight champion.

Rest of the Bellator 283 Card

In the co-main event of Bellator 283, former welterweight champion Douglas Lima (32-10) will be making his return. He will be taking on Jason Jackson (15-4) in a fight that’s being looked at as a title eliminator.

Lima is going through a really rough patch in his career. After surging to the top of Bellator and becoming welterweight champion, Lima has lost three fights in a row. He tried to become a two-division champion, but he was defeated by Gegard Mousasi.

He then lost his title to Yaroslav Amosov before losing a decision to Michael “Venom” Page. Now, he’s going to look to get back on track against Jason Jackson at Bellator 283. After losing his promotional debut, Jason Jackson has been perfect.

Jackson has won five fights in a row including wins over Benson Henderson, Neiman Gracie, and Paul Daley. If he can add Douglas Lima to his victim list, he’s going to be getting a title shot.

Another fight to watch at Bellator 283 is Usman Nurmagomedov (14-0) – Chris Gonzalez (7-1). Nurmagomedov will be looking to remain unbeaten while picking up his fourth win in the promotion while Chris Gonzalez will be looking to play spoiler.

New York Rangers GM Chris Drury takes his turn with the media on Wednesday

New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury spoke with the media on Wednesday to discuss this season and the direction of the team heading into next season.

New York Rangers GM Chris Drury took his turn at the media table on Wednesday morning to talk about what he thought about this season and expectations for next year.

The success of the season and Ryan Strome’s injury were a few things Drury touched on.  As is standard by most teams, contracts were not on the table to be discussed.

“I couldn’t be prouder of what our players and coaches accomplished. [It’s a] special group.”

To no surprise, the Kappo Kakko healthy scratch was brought up with Drury defending both his coach’s decision and the play of Kakko this year.

“It’s Turk’s lineup card and I support the decision he made,” when asked about Kakko being out of Game 6.  He went in to say about Kakko, “Kakko is an all-world player, a young player who’s still developing. He and I had a real good discussion before he left yesterday.” Vince Mercogliano.

It didn’t sound like there were any issues with Kakko and Drury sounded optimistic he would be with the club next season. “There’s obviously a lot of belief from me and the staff of what his future holds. I know he’s excited for a good offseason and to come back next year and be ready.”

Ryan Strome’s injury and contract situation are unknown on both issues.  Drury said he went sure if Strome would need surgery to repair a pelvic injury that’s occurred in the middle of the regular season.

As for his UFA eligibility, Drury wouldn’t get into the financial side of the decision to re-ssign him or not.  He did acknowledge the importance of a second-line center,

‘It’s a very important position for us and for any team. Centers are hard to get. That’s one we’re looking at, we’ve been looking at & we continue to discuss.”

More Drury Quotes

Alexis Lafreniere- “His play will dictate what line he’s on. As you all know, there’s nothing guaranteed, but he’s a heck of a player with a bright future. If he ends up playing on the right in the top six, I think we’ll be a pretty good team.”

Vitali Kravtsov- “I don’t think we’ve ever wavered from our stance of, he’s an all-world talent. He does a lot of things on the ice that a lot of people can’t… Like everyone else, your play dictates where you end up. But we’re certainly glad to have him back in the mix.”

 

NHL Calender

  • The 2022 NHL Draft is scheduled for July 7-8 at Bell Centre in Montreal.
  • First buyout periodJuly 1-12 (5 p.m. ET)
  • The signing period for restricted and unrestricted free agents will begin July 13 at noon ET.

 

 

Jets News: Key takeaways from OC Mike LaFleur’s press conference

zach wilson, jets

New York Jets second-year offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur spoke with the media on Tuesday morning prior to minicamp practice. He was asked a ton of great questions. They pertained to Zach Wilson, Breece Hall, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Denzel Mims, involving all of the new skill talent and the offensive tackle situation. LaFleur gave some useful insight.

The difference in Zach Wilson

LaFleur mentioned his “daily focus” when asked about Wilson’s offseason. He stated the difference from focusing on many things a year ago to now, “let’s focus on this one thing,” and “stay dialed into that.”

LaFleur mentioned how 2021 was the first year of the offense, the coaching staff, and Wilson as a rookie quarterback. From Wilson’s perspective, LaFleur spoke on grasping the scheme as well as the NFL game.

He stated that what allows for present focus is “the fact that he knows what to expect come August, come September,” and Wilson can “dial in on what matters right now,” which is “mastering our offense.” LaFleur concluded by saying that things are “very different from last year.”

Excitement with Breece Hall

LaFleur described Hall as a “talented football player” and how that was what “excited” him. His ability “stood out right when you watched him.” LaFleur stated how Hall is a “fluid mover” with a “different movement style.” He said the rookie has “done a great job since he’s been here.”

LaFleur highlighted just how fast Hall is for a bigger, 220-pound guy. He also spoke on his receiving ability stating how his “really good” hands catching the football have been on display so far.

Early impressions of Garrett Wilson

When asked about Wilson, LaFleur called him a “versatile, good football player.” LaFleur highlighted how “he understands the game” and is “full-throttle trying to learn this system.”

How LaFleur plans to involve all skill players

The Jets added a starting running back, wide receiver, and three tight ends with premium resources this offseason. There were already some talented running backs and wide receivers in place.

When LaFleur was asked about how everyone will make an impact, he stated, “it’ll all work itself out organically.” He mentioned that he has been asked himself about the plan to get everyone involved and ultimately said it is “a very good problem” for him to have.

Jets tackles George Fant and Mekhi Becton

With Becton now being at the facility, LaFleur said, “He looks good. It was good to see him yesterday.”

He was asked about the looming question of who will win the left tackle job. LaFleur stated, “That stuff always plays itself out.” He highlighted how to this point there are no pads and no run game. LaFleur did go on to mention, “George has earned the right” to gain opportunities at left tackle. He stated that ultimately, “The best two are going to be slotted where they may be.”

When asked about having an idea sooner, he said, “The faster that you can stamp,” the best place for each player “the better.” LaFleur said he can see a resolution on the battle “fairly quickly.” Later, he stated, “We have a plan as a staff right now.”

LaFleur talked about what a healthy Becton adds to the Jets offense, “He’s a very large man that is hard to run around in the pass game.”As a run blocker, LaFleur noted his “first step” at his size.

Denzel Mims’ offseason

Mims continues to gain glowing reviews from the front office and coaching staff. LaFleur mentioned the much better shape that Mims is in. He spoke about his energy in the meeting rooms each day. LaFleur stated how he is “much more confident in the offense.” To this point, LaFleur said Mims has put himself in the best possible situation to be an impactful contributor.

Elijah Moore’s growth

LaFleur said that Moore told him after last season that he wants to be the best and that he puts in the work to do so. He spoke on the fact that Moore is one player he is not concerned about coming back to training camp and not being ready to go after 40 days off. LaFleur finished with Moore saying, “he’s had a great camp, he’s a great kid. So, I’m excited to see what he can do.”

New York Giants 2022 Player Projections: WR Kadarius Toney

kadarius toney, giants

New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney has had a difficult time staying healthy since joining the NFL in 2021.

Previously the 20th overall selection in last year’s draft, Toney made a significant impression as a dynamic playmaker on offense for the Giants. However, he was only able to make 10 appearances, totaling 420 yards. The impact he made in a disappointing Jason Garrett offense stood out, meaning he could have a monster 2022 season with Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka taking over offensive control.

Quarterback Daniel Jones stated recently how electrifying Toney is on the football field and how special he can be with a ball in his hands.

“I think it’s huge to have him,’’ Jones said. “The times he was out there last year you saw what he can do, how special he can be with the ball in his hands. I think that adds a lot to our offense to have him out there. We need him. I think he’s done a great job in meetings, he’s done a great job picking it up and learning this system.”

Kadarius Toney projections for the 2022 season:

There are two different projections for Toney. One for if he can maintain his health and two based on injury struggles.

Injury Free:

-900 yards

-5 TDs

-100 yards rushing

Injury Riddled:

-400 yards

-2 TDs

-50 yards rushing

Essentially, Toney‘s projections get cut in half if he continues to deal with injuries this upcoming season. Toney has spent the majority of OTA‘s and mini camp wearing a red jersey, indicating he’s not participating in any live-action drills. The hope is that Kadarius will be available come training camp in a few weeks, as it seems Daboll is taking a more conservative approach with the team’s injury-prone players.

Daboll recently stated that he learned valuable lessons on dealing with injuries during his time with the Buffalo Bills. Whether that means keeping his star playmakers out of live-action during practice as a precautionary measure or simply waiting for them to be 100% is yet to be determined. Once we get a look at Toney and Kenny Golladay during training camp, we will have a better understanding of how Daboll will manage these injury issues.

Nonetheless, Toney has the capabilities to be an elite receiver in the NFL. He generated 12 forced missed tackles last season in just 10 games, an astounding number. Against the New Orleans Saints, he forced five missed tackles alone. Opposing defenders were running aimlessly like chickens with their heads cut off trying to catch him.

A healthy Toney is one of the most lethal playmakers in the league, so his potential could be far better than the projections laid out in this article if he can maintain that factor.

Yankees News: Bullpen reinforcements on the way, closer shift incoming

New York Yankees, Domingo German

The Yankees sustained several injuries to the bullpen a few weeks ago, including Chad Green, Jonathan Loáisiga, and Aroldis Chapman. Green’s season is over after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but Loáisiga is preparing to make a come back after struggling with shoulder inflammation. Chapman was seen participating in a few simulation scenarios before Tuesday’s game against Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium, indicating he’s also making his way back.

Yankees making progress with Domingo German:

One pitcher could end up playing a role in the bullpen this year after rehabilitating from a shoulder injury. 29-year-old Domingo German is fighting his way back for a spot on the roster, but the Yankees are gearing him up to feature as a potential starter.

“Possibly,” manager Aaron Boone said prior to Tuesday’s game. “We’ll see as we get that plan going after this next live.”

The Yankees will have German throw a three-inning session against live batters in the minors to determine his progress. It is possible they see him as a middle-inning relief pitcher who could take the game to the closer, which would be a huge benefit for the bullpen. Considering how well the starting pitchers have performed this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see German work his way through the bullpen and help supplement the back end of the rotation if need be.

Domingo pitched 98.1 innings last year, recording a 4.58 ERA with 8.97 strikeouts per nine and a 70.1% left on base rate. German’s fastball velocity is down 1 mph compared to the 2018 season, so it isn’t out of the realm he can get back to where he once was.

In addition, manager Aaron Boone stated that Chapman is making progress as well.

“Good to see him back out there. I think he looks good, he looks healthy,” Boone said. “I’m kinda getting with Chappy and (Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake) to see what we got. Hopefully the next step and starting to face live hitters.”

Chapman struggled before going down with Achilles tendinitis several weeks ago. The 34-year-old veteran closer is sitting with a 3.86 ERA this season over 14 innings. However, upon his return, Chapman’s role could change significantly given the emergence of Clay Holmes.

A big change at closer might be coming:

When the Yankees traded for Clay Holmes from the Pittsburgh Pirates, they didn’t imagine he would steal the closer spot away from Aroldis Chapman, a future Hall of Famer. Holmes, 29, is sitting with a 0.30 ERA over 29.2 innings this season. He hosts a career-best 95.7% left on base rate and 81.9% ground ball rate. He’s throwing a sinker 81.4% of the time at 96.8 mph. He’s also incorporating a slider into the mix. His sinker is simply unhittable for most batters.

It is possible that Boone moves Holmes back to a setup man role, but the way he’s pitching indicates full steam ahead as the primary closer.