Red Sox @ Yankees May 8-10 2018: Series Preview

Image result for red sox-yankees

The Red Sox have had it easy in terms of their schedule over the last week and a half.  They played the Rays, Rangers, and Royals, taking 7 of 10 during that stretch.  But now they face the Yankees, who have won 15 of 16 against some of the AL’s best.  They swept the Twins, Indians, and Angels, and nearly swept Houston.  They have been boosted by the emergence of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, and are doing fine without 1B Greg Bird.  How will they fare against Boston, the only AL team that still has a better record than the Yankees?  They will fight for not just the AL East crown, but the American League crown in this series.  They are arguably the two best teams in baseball right now, which makes this intense rivalry even better.

Previous 2018 Results

The Red Sox have already played the Yankees once this season at Fenway Park.  The Yankees had even more injury problems and did not have Gleyber in the majors back in mid-April when this series occurred.  Despite losing Xander Bogaerts to the DL shortly before the series, the Red Sox, who had started 8-1 due to spotless pitching and an easy schedule, took advantage.  They took 2 of 3 in the series.  The Red Sox lineup had dominated in Game 1 to bring the Sox a 14-1 win.  David Price had a rough Game 2 and left early with an injury.  But the Red Sox attempted to come back, and after Tyler Austin spiked the infielder sliding into 2nd, Joe Kelly got revenge when he hit Austin.  It ended in a bench-clearing brawl that got Kelly and Austin suspended.  Porcello continued a strong start in the 3rd game as the Red Sox won, 6-3.  I did a recap of that game when the Sox and Bruins won important games on the same night.

Big Night For Boston: Sox, Bruins Win On Big Stage

 

How They Line-Up Now

Both teams have powerful, home-run hitting lineups.  But both of these lineups have a weak spot.  The Yankees have seen several hitters who are usually pretty good slump.  Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez all have a batting average under .230.  Sanchez is batting .198.  It is balanced out by strong seasons from Didi Gregorius and Aaron Judge, as well as early success out of Andujar and Torres.  I was never too high on Gregorius, but he has really proven himself this year.   The Red Sox do not have reliable hitters at the end of the lineup.  Both regular catchers and JBJ are batting under .200, and Eduardo Nunez has also struggled.  But J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Xander Bogaerts have all thrived and led this team.

The Red Sox have the starting pitching advantage, but not all of the pitching match-ups in this series are favorable for the Red Sox.  The Red Sox don’t have too much of a bullpen to rely on, either.  Craig Kimbrel has been flawless, but the rest of the bullpen has not always stepped it up when the starter struggles.  The Red Sox have to rely on either an offensive explosion or a spotless, long-lasting starter to win quality games.

Pitching Match-Ups

Game 1 (5/8): BOS: Image result for drew pomeranzDrew Pomeranz (1-1, 6.14 ERA)

vs. NYY: Image result for luis severinoLuis Severino (5-1, 2.11)

By no means is Severino going to be easy to face but I could see Pomeranz stepping it up on the big stage here.  Once Severino leaves, it will be the offense’s turn to make an impact.

Note: Price has been scratched from his Wednesday start due to hand numbness.  I’m beginning to agree with that 98.5 caller who talked about the stress disorder with David Price.  Can he handle the pressure of a Red Sox-Yankees game?

Game 2 (5/9): BOS: Image result for rick porcello Rick Porcello (5-0, 2.14 ERA)

NYY: Image result for MASAHIRO TANAKAMasahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.39 ERA)

Tanaka has been pretty good this year, but Porcello has been flawless this year.  Moving him a day up brings this pitching match-up into our favor.

Game 3 (5/10): BOS: Image result for Eduardo Rodriguez Eduardo Rodriguez (3-0, 5.29 ERA)

NYY: Image result for C.C. Sabathia C.C. Sabathia (2-0, 1.39 ERA)

I like Eduardo Rodriguez.  He has very high potential, but C.C. Sabathia has been great when healthy, and I’m wondering how E-Rod will perform under the pressure of Yankee Stadium.

My Prediction: Red Sox Take 2 of 3

 

 

Advertisements

Red Sox Report: Sox Slowing Down, But It’s Understandable

When the Red Sox began the season 17-2, I knew they would not be able to finish the season going at that pace.  So it is understandable that the Red Sox have gone 8-7 in their last 15 games.  It does not mean the Red Sox are a fluke.  They have still shown signs in the last 14 games that they are capable contenders.  But they cannot win every game, and 8 to 10-game winning streaks interrupted by just a loss or two is not realistic for any team to maintain.

Image result for mookie betts 3 hr games

But Mookie Betts is still on fire, and Hanley Ramirez has still put up much better numbers to start 2018.  J.D. Martinez has also begun to heat up.  Betts has gotten to the point in his hot streak where he’s breaking HR records.  We will look at Betts’ records, the cooling off of the Red Sox, and much more in this edition of the Red Sox Report.

Red Sox Beginning to Cool Off, But It’s Not a Major Concern

As I said above, although the Sox have cooled off, the Red Sox have still shown qualities of an elite playoff contender.  I still think they have the potential to make a deep run this year.  What concerns me a little bit is who they have been losing to.  They lost a series to the Rays to start their most recent homestand.  Tampa barely has a starting rotation.  But even a blind squirrel eventually finds an acorn.  They also struggled and got no-hit against the Athletics.  The A’s are not terrible, they have a powerful young lineup and an improving rotation.  But after a 17-2 start, I did not expect A’s SP Sean Manaea to no-hit the Red Sox.  It shows that our lineup is very streaky, feast or famine.

Struggles against the mediocre teams is a problem, but the Red Sox have been pretty good against tough opponents like the Angels and Blue Jays.  What the Red Sox need right now is to be competitive against playoff contenders.  If they continue to prove that they are capable of that, I will be much more confident in their World Series chances.  But if they cannot show up against subpar teams, how will they be able to continue to thrive against contenders?

Sox Lineup Has Been Streaky But Has High Ceiling

Image result for jd martinez redsox

The Red Sox lineup has really struggled at times. They have scored 3 or fewer runs in 4 of their 9 losses so far. But when the lineup is on a good streak, it can carry the team. At its best, this lineup could probably carry the Red Sox all the way to the World Series.  But several guys have failed to come through in recent weeks. Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are all batting under .200, and Eduardo Nunez hasn’t looked like the same guy that boosted the Red Sox lineup on the brink of contention.  Everyone in this lineup has struggled at some point this season.

But when on a hot streak, this lineup can take the league by storm.  There were several hot hitters that led us to our amazing start, and a few of our hitters are still on fire.  J.D. Martinez is 21 for his last 47 (.447) and has hit 3 dingers in that span.  Mookie Betts has been on fire all season.  Read more about Betts’ hot streak in the next section.

Mookie Betts Still On Fire, Now He’s Making History

Image result for mookie betts 2018

Betts is batting .352 (5th in the league) with 13 home runs (leading the league) and a 1.257 OPS (leading the league) on the season.  In addition, he’s 12 for his last 23 (.522).   He has hit 11 of the homers in his last 15 games and has had two 3 HR games this season (one soon after Marathon Monday in Anaheim, and another at Fenway this week against the Royals).  It’s only the start of May, and he had these 3 HR games within two weeks of each other.  He also had a pair of 3 HR games back in 2016.  He and Johnny Mize are the only players to ever have a pair of 3 HR games two times in their career.

Betts also passed Ted Williams for the most 3-HR games in team history.  Betts is only 25.  He has plenty of time in his career for more multi-HR games.  Could he become the first person to have two 3-HR games in three different seasons?  Could he eventually break the MLB 3 HR game record?  It is currently held by Mize and Sammy Sosa (6).  Betts is in the Top 10 with 4.  Betts is tied for 2nd with Manny Machado for multi-HR games since 2016 (11).  Betts and Machado are behind just Giancarlo Stanton (14).  Betts is more than just our leadoff hitter.  He is one of baseball’s biggest stars.  But there is an argument for why he should remain our leadoff hitter, and I look at that in my next Baseball Bits.

Injury Report: Thornburg Begins Rehab, Several Activated Over Last Two Weeks

Image result for tyler thornburg

The Red Sox have continued to be hit by the injury bug.  Brock Holt went on the DL in late April with a hamstring strain.  Mookie Betts was also hurt for a few days in late April with hamstring issues but has since returned and continued to dominate.  He also left today’s game with a wrist injury.  But several of our previously injured players have returned over the last couple of weeks.  Xander Bogaerts was activated last weekend, and he lost his hot streak on the DL, but he went 3-4 in his first game back and has continued to hit well, batting .303 since his return.  Bobby Poyner has also returned from his injury but did not return to the big league roster until May 4th after a stint with the Paw Sox.

Steven Wright has returned from the DL too, but he is currently serving a 15-game domestic violence suspension.  Joe Kelly recently returned from his 6-game suspension after the Sox-Yankees brawl in April.  Eduardo Rodriguez was also out for a few days on a family medical leave but was activated on the 5th to start against the Rangers.  He did not miss a start during his absence.  Tyler Thornburg, Austin Maddox, Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, and Dustin Pedroia are the players that remain on the DL.  Thornburg has begun his rehab assignment, and Pedroia has been rehabbing at extended spring training.  Pedey is targeting a May 25 big league return.  Brock Holt is expected to return next week.

Sox Have Caught a Break vs. Royals, Rangers, But Round 2 With Flaming Hot Yankees Ahead

Image result for red sox-royals 2018

After a tough road trip, the Red Sox have enjoyed a relatively easy schedule over the last week and a half.  They have played the Rays, Royals, and Rangers.  Despite having a tough time against the Rays (who have won 11 of their last 14 on a hot streak), the Red Sox have caught a break against the Royals and Rangers, who they won 5 of 7 against.  But after that, the Red Sox could have another difficult stretch ahead, starting with a 3 game series at Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees have won 14 of their last 15, and this was against playoff contenders.

The Yanks have swept the Twins, Indians, and Angels, and took 3 of 4 in Houston.  If the Yankees continue to thrive against Boston, they will be proven as serious contenders.  But Boston had an impressive 17-2 stretch of their own.  Although it may not have been against as difficult opponents, the Sox did take 2 out of 3 when they hosted the Yankees.  However, the Yankees were without C.C. Sabathia and Aaron Hicks in that series.  They have also called up Gleyber Torres, who has done very well since that series.  They have lost Jordan Montgomery and a couple relievers to the DL since the series though.

That’s all for this edition of the Red Sox Report.  Stay tuned for more Red Sox posts coming soon.

Honored to be One of Flutie’s Shining Stars

This is a picture of my brother Ryan and I meeting Doug Flutie at an event through the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation at Skyzone in Westboro, Massachusetts.

I’m very excited to see Doug Flutie again to be honored as a shining star at the Flutie Foundation Night to Shine.  I’d like to thank Doug and the Flutie Foundation for this honor.  The Flutie Foundation has done a lot to support me and this blog, including inviting me to emcee the 2017 Flutie 5K, and I would like to thank them for that as well.  Below are two articles I have written in the past about Flutie:

Football Stars: Doug Flutie 

Waterville Valley Skiing Trip: How I Learned To Ski In One Weekend 

 

 

 

 

NFL Draft Report Cards: AFC East Edition

Welcome to my first NFL Draft Report Card article of 2018.  I have given a grade to every pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and compiled the grades onto 32 report cards, one per team.  I averaged all the grades on each team to determine my final grade for each team’s NFL Draft.  To avoid overly long articles, I have split it into eight parts, one for each NFL division.  Let’s start with the AFC East, the home of the New England Patriots.

NFL Draft Report Cards

Image result for saquon barkley nfl draft photo

AFC East                                                              NFC East

AFC North                                                           NFC North

AFC South                                                           NFC South

AFC West                                                             NFC West

 

Miami Dolphins

Grade: B

What They Did Right: The Dolphins started off the draft on a strong note.  Rather than trading up for a QB of the future that they do not need quite yet, they took Minkah Fitzpatrick, a versatile defensive back who fits well into a Dolphins secondary that needs significant help.  This was a big steal by the Dolphins, and it’s not the first time they have done this.  They took T Laremy Tunsil, originally the projected No. 1 pick after he slid in the 2016 NFL Draft.  They also did a good job filling their needs early on, taking a strong pair of tight ends, a defensive back, a young RB, and a linebacker.

What They Did Wrong: They made some reaches in the later rounds, and they took a second linebacker, TE, and cornerback when they could have used some offensive line help.  But there are no fatal flaws here.  The Dolphins arguably had the best draft in the AFC East.

Buffalo Bills

Grade: B

What They Did Right: The Bills had a spectacular Day 1.  They took two grade-A prospects in Round 1, making smart trades to put themselves in position to get what they needed.  Josh Allen has very high potential, and he will definitely compete for the starting job.  Tremaine Edmunds brings much-needed help to the linebacking corps on the outside and on the inside.  They got a steal in Edmunds with the 16th pick. They also had two other quality steals. They took DT Harrison Phillips after he nearly fell to Round 3.  They do not really need a DT, but Phillips was a valuable pick for the Bills at this point in the draft.  They also scored a steal in G Wyatt Teller. Not only was Teller projected to be drafted much earlier, but he fills the hole that Richie Incognito left behind.  Teller has the chance to compete for a starting job and thrive in one across from fellow Bills linemen John Miller and Vladimir Ducasse. They topped off their strong draft with a couple of good wide receivers in the late rounds.

What They Did Wrong: The Bills already had what is emerging as one of the league’s premier secondaries.  Yet they drafted not just one, but two defensive backs. In the meantime, they failed to fill some of their more important needs like tackle and linebacker (they could have still used another prospect there after Edmunds). Despite many steals, they also took a couple guys too early, and they could’ve done a better job addressing their current needs.

New England Patriots

Grade: B-

What They Did Right: The Patriots addressed all of their major needs despite many trades down. They ended up with nine total draft picks and they used them wisely. They eventually selected a QB, RB, WR, TE, offensive lineman, corner, and a linebacker. They started things off strong with two good players out of Georgia to address major needs. They also picked up a major steal in WR Braxton Berrios.

What They Did Wrong: The Pats may have waited too long for a QB, but reports say that they would have traded up if Baker Mayfield is available, which would not be the right strategy either. They could have also taken a linebacker or a tight end earlier. They had four picks in the first two rounds, and they used them on one T, one RB, one CB, and a trade down. I didn’t really see RB and CB as needs that were urgent enough to spend a first or second rounder on, and they did not need to trade down. Their grade gets a boost for addressing all their major needs, something no other AFC East team did in my eyes. But they waited too long for certain needs I saw as urgent.

New York Jets

Grade: C+

What They Did Right: The Jets started off strong by taking an NFL ready QB with the 3rd pick. I also liked the players they picked in the 3rd and 4th rounds. These two players addressed needs and are on my list of draft sleepers. But the Jets draft began to plummet from there. Day 3 did not end up looking so good for them.

What They Did Wrong: The Jets could have had a good draft if they continued to address their needs or take top available prospects in the later rounds. But they took CB Parry Nickerson when they did not need a corner, and took a running back I had never heard of when they were totally fine at running back. They have Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell to handle the backfield. I doubt the RB they drafted will ever make an NFL roster, let alone an NFL start. They also took another DT in Round 6 when they had already done enough to address the defensive line.  If they were going to take two d-linemen, at least one of them should’ve been a defensive end, which is more of where the Jets need d-line help.

That’s all for Part 1 of my NFL Draft Report Cards. Stay tuned for more post-draft analysis soon.

NFL 2018 Final Mock Draft: Who Will Go #1?

The 2018 NFL Draft is almost here.  Normally, by this point, the top three picks would be pretty much locked in.  But this year, the draft appears to be so unpredictable that we do not even know for sure who will go #1.  Today, I will play out Round 1, including trades, and I will even look at later picks for the Patriots.  However, prepare to be surprised, because my mock draft is not here to be a carbon copy of everyone else’s.

1. CLE With the 1st overall pick, the Cleveland Browns select
Sam Darnold
QB
USC
Josh Allen has high potential, and he looked great at the Combine.  But I see Darnold as the most NFL ready QB.  He has consistently put up good numbers as a starter at USC, and he has the size.  He fits well with the Browns, and the rest of their offense is ready to contend, so an NFL ready QB is a priority with this pick.  Tyrod Taylor is by no means the future in Cleveland.
2. NYG With the 2nd overall pick, the New York Giants select
Saquon Barkley
RB
Penn State
Barkley is the best of both worlds in terms of draft prospects.  He has future Pro Bowl potential, and he is ready to provide the Giants with the young workhorse RB they need right now.  In my opinion, he is one of the best running backs to enter the draft in recent years.  He has posted 3 consecutive 1000 yard seasons at Penn State, and of all RBs at this year’s combine, only Nyheim Hines had a faster 40-yard dash.
3. NYJ With the 3rd overall pick, the New York Jets select
Josh Rosen
QB
UCLA
Rosen may have attitude issues, and he may have struggled at times during his college career. But he has the potential to become a reliable QB for the Jets, and maybe even a future Pro-Bowler. Just look at what he did freshman year at UCLA. He just has to mature a little bit.
4.  With the 4th overall pick, the Cleveland Browns select
Minkah Fitzpatrick
CB
Alabama
Minkah is a versatile defensive back who can give a much-needed upgrade to the Browns secondary. Whether he starts at CB or S, I think he’s ready to be an NFL playmaker. He had 9 interceptions and 171 tackles in his college career.
5.  With the 5th overall pick, the Denver Broncos select
Quenton Nelson
G
Notre Dame
The Broncos have announced that the #5 pick is for sale, but signing Case Keenum does not solve all their offensive problems. They need to surround him with talent, including protection. They cannot pass up on Nelson if he is available. Nelson is arguably the best interior offensive lineman in the draft in the last 5 years.
6.  With the 6th overall pick, the Indianapolis Colts select
Bradley Chubb
DE
North Carolina State
The Colts need front seven help, and they will significantly benefit from Chubb, the best edge rusher in this draft. Roquan Smith is also an intriguing choice, but they will not pass on Chubb if he is available. He has tallied 10 sacks in two consecutive seasons at N.C. State.
7.  TRADE ALERT (See Details In TRADE Section)

With the 7th overall pick, the Buffalo Bills select

Josh Allen

QB

Wyoming

Allen has very high potential although he may not be NFL ready. He was very good, but also inconsistent at Wyoming. Young A.J. McCarron is the perfect bridge, giving them the ability to roll the dice and draft Allen.

8.  With the 8th overall pick, the Chicago Bears select

Roquan Smith

ILB

Georgia

Smith is not a perfect fit in Chicago, as he may be better in a 4-3 scheme. But he will give the Bears defense an instant boost. He is one of the fastest linebackers in the draft, and he is a strong defender who dominated in his junior year with 6.5 sacks and 137 tackles. He will contribute right away.

9.  With the 9th overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers select

Denzel Ward

CB

Ohio State

Ward is a versatile defensive back who despite his small stature has great ball skills and speed. He ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine, tied for the best this year among defensive backs. He will help fill the hole in the 49ers secondary that Eric Reid left. Ward and Richard Sherman could potentially make a great CB duo.

10.  With the 10th overall pick, the Oakland Raiders select

Tremaine Edmunds

OLB

Virginia Tech

Edmunds can help the Raiders front seven right away. He has two older brothers in the NFL already, and not only do I expect him to follow in their footsteps, but I expect him to be a better NFL defender than them. He will be able to make an impact against the run and against the pass. He fits well into Oakland’s defensive scheme.

11.  With the 11th overall pick, the Miami Dolphins select

Maurice Hurst

DT

Michigan

Hurst is arguably the strongest interior defensive lineman in this draft. He can really get on the opposing QB’s nerves. He will help fill the hole that Ndamukong Suh’s release left the Dolphins with.

12.  Pick acquired from Bills

With the 12th overall pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select

Derrius Guice

RB

LSU

Guice is not quite Saquon Barkley, who the Bucs will definitely opt to draft rather than trading down if he is available at #7. But Guice is also very quick and powerful. He tallied 2638 yards in his final two years of college.

13.  With the 13th overall pick, the Washington Redskins select

Derwin James

S

Florida State

The Redskins are set at corner, but James will help fill a hole at safety that DeAngelo Hall left the Redskins with. James is a versatile defensive back who can really get in the way of the receivers he covers. He will help continue to revamp the Redskins secondary with talent.

14.  With the 14th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers select

Calvin Ridley

WR

Alabama

Ridley is a fast, explosive receiver who is ready to make an impact now. With Jordy Nelson gone, the Packers need a slot receiver. According to NFL.com, Ridley thrives both in the slot and outside, and after tallying 750+ yards and 5+ touchdowns in each of his three seasons of Alabama, he will thrive across from Davante Adams and give an immediate post to the Packers receiving game.

15.  With the 15th overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals select

Courtland Sutton

WR

SMU

With Ridley off the board, the Cardinals will take Sutton, a great fit in Arizona. This is a very deep WR class. With Larry Fitzgerald retiring eventually and John Brown in Baltimore, this is a huge need for the Cardinals. Sutton gives them the physical outside receiver they need. He has dominated in his final two seasons at SMU, tallying 1000+ yards and 10+ TDs in both junior and senior year. He has very high potential and gives the Cardinals the WR boost they need. But is he NFL ready right now?

16.  With the 16th overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens select

Da’Ron Payne

DT

Alabama

Payne will help the Ravens stop the run, filling in where Timmy Jernigan once played. He is an up-the-middle run stopper who tallied 102 tackles in his college career. He can be a pest to opposing offenses, getting in their way.

17.  TRADE ALERT (See Details in TRADE Section)

With the 17th overall pick, the Carolina Panthers select

Christian Kirk

WR

Texas A&M

The Panthers will need a receiver across from Devin Funchess, who is not a proven #1 receiver yet. Kirk is not Calvin Ridley, and if the Panthers have the chance to draft Ridley, they have the potential for an explosive, young offense that keeps the Panthers in contention. But he is a sturdy receiver who can play in several different schemes. In 234 college receptions, he scored 10 TDs and tallied 2856 receiving yards.

18.  With the 18th overall pick, the Seattle Seahawks select

Jaire Alexander

CB

Louisville

Seattle has rebuilt their secondary, but they need to supply the secondary with young talent now. Alexander fits in the Seahawks scheme, he is very fast and versatile, and he had 7 interceptions in his college career. He is a good fit and can make an impact right away.

19.  With the 19th overall pick, the Dallas Cowboys select

Connor Williams

T

Texas

Williams will keep the Cowboys offensive line strong after Doug Free’s retirement. With this pick, the Cowboys would arguably still have the best o-line in the NFL. The Cowboys are a good, local fit for him

20.  With the 20th overall pick, the Detroit Lions select

Harold Landry

OLB

Boston College

Landry supplies the Lions with the edge rusher they need. He has the potential to become a pest to the QB and a Pro Bowl level sack machine. He had 16.5 sacks junior year when he played 12 games. He had 5 sacks in 8 games senior year, which is still a good amount. Landry has very high potential and he can make an impact right now.

21.  With the 21st overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals select

Billy Price

C

Ohio State

After losing some of their o-lineman to free agency, it’s time for Cincinnati to revamp their offensive line with young talent. They are especially weak in the interior. Price supplies them with a powerful blocker that they need, and I expect the Bengals to use their 1st rounder on either Price or Isaiah Wynn.

22.  Pick acquired from Bills

With the 22nd overall pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select

Isaiah Wynn

G

Georgia

Now that the Bucs took Guice, it’s time to address the O-line. Wynn may be small, but he is a versatile offensive lineman who can help the Buccaneers protect young Jameis Winston whether it is at tackle or at guard.

23.  With the 23rd overall pick, the New England Patriots select

Mike McGlinchey

T

Notre Dame

McGlinchey has good size and has played at both LT and RT. If the Patriots draft him, expect to see him protecting Brady’s blind side. He should adjust rather quickly with the help of Dante Scarnecchia, although he cannot be playing at the level of Nate Solder right away, which could put Brady in a tough situation. But no offensive lineman available could do much better.

24.  Pick acquired from Panthers

With the 24th overall pick, the Los Angeles Chargers select

Leighton Vander Esch

ILB

Boise State

Vander Esch provides the Chargers with a fast, powerful inside linebacker who can get to the ball quickly. He had 4 sacks and 2 picks in 2017 at Boise State. He is one of this year’s best small school prospects, and it may take time for him to make an impact, but he will help the Bolts defense in the long term.

25.  With the 25th overall pick, the Tennessee Titans select

Vita Vea

DT

Washington

The Titans desperately need a powerful DT. Vea is just that. He can stop the run and get to the QB. He has Pro Bowl potential, and may not be all out dominant in Year 1, but he will fill a serious need for Tennessee.

26.  With the 26th overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons select

Marcus Davenport

DE

UTSA

Davenport will help restore Atlanta’s defensive line with young talent, and provide them with another edge rusher alongside Vic Beasley. He is powerful and explosive. He can really rush the passer, tallying 21.5 sacks in his college career, 8.5 of those in 2017.

27.  With the 27th overall pick, the New Orleans Saints select

Taven Bryan

DT

Florida

Bryan is an athletic and powerful DT who can help the Saints d-line across from Sheldon Rankins. Bryan had 5.5 sacks and 62 tackles in 3 years at Florida. He will take time to develop but has potential to become one of the league’s premier defensive lineman

28.  With the 28th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers select

Rashaan Evans

ILB

Alabama

Evans is a powerful interior linebacker who specializes in rushing the passer. He racked up 6 sacks in senior year at Alabama, and he had 74 tackles. Evans and Ryan Shazier will make for a great pass rushing LB duo.

29.  TRADE ALERT (See details in TRADE section)

With the 29th overall pick, the New York Giants select

Baker Mayfield

QB

Oklahoma

My bold prediction in this mock is that only 4 QBs will go in Round 1, and I even had Mayfield slipping into Round 2 originally. But the Giants would be willing to trade up to secure the QB they want. Mayfield has not had off the field problems like Josh Rosen and Josh Allen, and he is one of the most NFL ready prospects of this draft. He nearly passed for 5000 yards in his senior year, tossing 43 TDs.

30.  With the 30th overall pick, the Minnesota Vikings select

Will Hernandez

G

UTEP

Hernandez will round out the Vikings o-line with Joe Berger retired.  He will serve as a physical, powerful run blocker for the Vikings, helping protect new QB, Kirk Cousins.  He will be a pest for defensive linemen to face.

31.  With the 31st overall pick, the New England Patriots select

Malik Jefferson

OLB

Texas

Jefferson fits well in New England’s 4-3 scheme.  The Pats could use a tough, physical OLB like him.  He is a powerful run stopper who collected 110 tackles in his junior year at Texas.

32. PHI With the 32nd overall pick, the Philadelphia Eagles select

Sony Michel

RB

Georgia

The Eagles need to add RB depth.  Michel thrived while fighting for time with Nick Chubb at Georgia, tallying 1227 yards in his senior year.  He can make an immediate impact, doing the same in the Eagles’ deep backfield.

Trades

TB acquires DT Adolphus Washington, R1 P12, R1 P22, R2 P24, R4 P21, 2019 R3
BUF acquires R1 P7

———————-

LAC acquires R1 P24, R2 P23, R3 P24, 2019 R1
CAR acquires R1 P17
———————
NYG acquires R1 P29
JAX acquires R2 P2, R3 P5
Patriots Mock Draft: Rounds 2-7
Check back tomorrow!
That’s all for today.  Enjoy the draft, and stay tuned for my NFL Draft Grades after it ends.

UPDATE: Mock Coming Tomorrow, NFL FA Coverage Modified

As an aspiring reporter, I write this blog for a good writing experience, so I have posted articles in delay for the experience. But I also would like to try to stay as up to date as possible, so I have decided to cut down on the NFL free agency coverage. I was planning to release a big recap, but instead, I will be posting a chart on my Instagram that compares my initial Predictions to actual results, and I will be making some predictions about the remaining free agents after the draft (I do not expect any major free agent signings this week as the draft is every team’s current focus and every team will have to re-assess after the draft.

Here is part of the NFL free agency charts I will be posting on Instagram. I will also post the rest of these with my next NFL free agency Article:

These first three portray top QBs, RBs, and WRs who became free agents before the new league year began and have since signed with a team.

To catch up on NFL free agency, check out this NFL free agency tracker on Spotrac:

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/

But for now, I would like to focus my attention to this week’s big sports event, the NFL draft. My final NFL Mock Draft will be released tomorrow. I am unsure as to whether it will include trades. If it does not, I will include some potential trade scenarios. The mock I post will be one round long, but I will include my later round Patriots picks.

You will be able to see my full mocks (I have one with trades and one without) on MockOut, a mock draft contest app that I would recommend. I will leave links in the Mock Draft tomorrow.

After the draft, stay tuned for draft grades, Baseball Bits, Red Sox Report, my MLB April Power Rankings, Bruins and Celtics playoff coverage, and much more. I may also be releasing my NFL season predictions and Pats game-by-game predictions on the earlier side this year, especially now that the schedule is out, free agency is mostly over, and the draft is underway.

Red Sox Report: Red Sox On A Roll Despite Many Injuries

Can Boston teams sustain any more injuries?  First, the Celtics lost Gordon Hayward on Opening Night and later lost Kyrie Irving for the season.  Then the Bruins began sustaining a lot of injuries, and although they are still a strong playoff contender, it seems like another player goes down every time somebody returns.  And now as the Red Sox are off to a hot start, they are far from full strength.

Even though Eduardo Rodriguez has returned and Drew Pomeranz will be back soon, the Red Sox have continued to lose players to injuries.  This past week, Xander Bogaerts, Hanley Ramirez, Bobby Poyner, Mookie Betts, and David Price have all missed or left games due to injuries.  Hanley surprisingly only missed a game after taking a fastball on his hand/wrist area.  He hit a mammoth line drive HR in his first game back keeping his hot start going.

The Rivalry is Back: Red Sox Win In Heated First Series vs. Yankees

Image result for red sox-yankees brawl

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is back and better than ever.  This year, with the Sox and Yankees likely to compete for the AL East title, expect exciting games between these two teams.  It did not take long for the intensity to get going in the first series.  There were two bench-clearing incidents in the second game.  I expect the tension to carry over into the next Red Sox-Yankees series and likely all of the remaining sixteen games.

Despite numerous injuries sustained by both teams, this was not a series you would want to miss. After a hot 8-1 start, the Red Sox were confident and ready to prove that their strong start was not a fluke.  After the Sox blew out the Yankees 14-1 in game 1, the Yankees came into game 2 with a little more fight.  They won the game and Yankees DH Tyler Austin spiked SS Brock Holt when he slid into second.  Tensions flared and benches cleared.

Another bench-clearing brawl occurred when Joe Kelly retaliated by hitting Tyler Austin later in the game and Austin charged the mound.  This one got both Kelly and Austin ejected and both of them have since been suspended.  Both players appealed to stay in the series and on the active roster until the hearing.  You will not want to miss a Red Sox-Yankees game this year as they are clearly the best 2 teams in the AL East.

By the time this game was over, starters Tanaka and Price were long gone as neither lasted too long.  Price had the worst outing of his career lasting only 1 inning.  He left after giving up 4 runs and was pulled before starting the 2nd due to a tingling sensation in his fingers.  It was a cold night and sports radio talk has speculated Price’s issues were related to the cold, his elbow, or maybe even anxiety.  Regardless, the Sox need Price healthy so whatever it was, the team and fans hope it was an isolated issue and he returns to pitching as well as he did to finish last season and start this one.

Image result for david price stress

On A Roll: Lineup and Rotation Have Shown Flashes of Excellence

The Red Sox may be missing a lot of players due to injuries but the lineup has been hot of late after a slow start and their rotation has looked like one the best in the MLB all season (except Price’s bad outing).  Hanley Ramirez is on fire despite suffering a wrist contusion this week and J.D. Martinez has heated up after taking a week or so to adjust to his new team.  He now has 3 HR and 13 RBI on the season, including a grand slam in Boston’s comeback attempt in Game 2 against the Yankees.

The Red Sox have now hit 3 grand slams this season while they had none in 2017.  Mookie Betts has also been on fire all season, batting .353, and Bogaerts was just as hot before his ankle injury on Sunday that got him placed on the 10-day DL.  Andrew Benintendi started hitting well at home and is 10 for his last 26.

Image result for eduardo rodriguez vs. orioles 2018

The rotation has shown flashes of dominance too, and Red Sox starters have pitched quality starts in 3 of the last 6 games.  Rick Porcello even had a no-hitter through six on Thursday.  The defense has helped the pitching playing nearly flawless all year with only 3 errors on the season.  Jackie Bradley Jr. had an amazing catch this past Saturday that has SportsCenter Top 10 of the year potential.

Red Hot Hanley: Ramirez Riding 10-Game Hitting Streak, Is He Back To His Pre-2015 Form?

Image result for hanley ramirez home run

The Red Sox were expecting another power hitter to support Big Papi when they signed Hanley Ramirez back in the 2014-15 off-season.  But a shoulder injury in 2015 limited Ramirez and he fell short of expectations in 2015 and 2016.  Hanley looked better in 2017 but without Big Papi, he only hit .242 with 23 HR and 62 RBI.  This season Hanley has been off to a great start.  He is riding a 10-game hitting streak and he has hit 3 home runs and leads the AL in RBI.  He is also hitting .362/.415/.617.  You could argue that he has returned to the pre-2015 form that led the Sox to sign him to a very big contract.

After going down with a wrist contusion on Thursday, some speculated that he would not keep this up when he returned.  But he was ready to go for Saturday’s game he quieted the doubters and hit a home run in his first at-bat.  If he keeps this up, he will remain an everyday starter on the Sox, something that was not a given to begin the season.  Do you think Hanley Ramirez is back to his pre-2015 form, or will he cool down?

Injury Update: Who’s Out, What To Expect

Image result for xander bogaerts injury

The Red Sox sustained lots of injuries this week.  Xander Bogaerts was placed on the DL April 8th after hurting his ankle when chasing a ball into the Rays dugout.  On Wednesday, David Price left the game but it looks like he won’t miss a start.  Bobby Poyner went down with a hamstring injury in the same game as Price and was placed on the DL.

Image result for mookie betts foot injury

Mookie Betts left Saturday’s game after suffering a foot contusion by colliding with Orioles catcher Chance Sisco while sliding into home.  He is now day to day, but he was out of the lineup Sunday.

Image result for drew pomeranz

The good news is that Drew Pomeranz will be returning this Thursday or Friday after a strong rehab start in Portland, giving up just 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings.  Relievers Steven Wright and Tyler Thornburg are also making progress in their rehab.

I do expect the Red Sox to stay hot but these injuries could eventually hold the team back, especially with a tough road trip including visits to Anaheim and Oakland coming up.  The A’s are led by power hitting out of veteran Khris Davis and breakout star Matt Chapman.  The Angels are led by two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani and star hitter Mike Trout.  They have a stacked lineup that has helped them get off to a hot start as they lead AL West.  The Sox will face Ohtani in Game 1 of the series because their game on Sunday was postponed.  Will the Red Sox be able to stay hot against these two teams despite injuries?

Sox Prepare To Face Ohtani In Game 1 Of West Coast Road Trip

Image result for shohei ohtani

The Red Sox will head out west after their Marathon Monday game against Baltimore was rained out and the first game is against young Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani.  He has dominated at the plate and on the mound, and he is the probable starter on Tuesday. Ohtani has become known as the HR-hitting ace.  He has hit 3 HR and is batting .367/.424/.767 in 8 games at the plate.  As a starting pitcher, he is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 2 games on the mound.

Stay tuned for more Red Sox posts coming soon.