Yankees Show Flaws and Get a First Look at Frankie Montas | Big Indy News
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Yankees Show Flaws and Get a First Look at Frankie Montas



ST. LOUIS — Slipping of late but still holding a slight edge for the best record in the American League, the Yankees took action last Monday ahead of the Major League Baseball trade deadline. They sent two of their top 10 prospects and two other minor league players to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for the relief pitcher Lou Trivino and the starting pitcher Frankie Montas.

Although Trivino, a right-hander, had been underperforming this season compared with his career norms, he reinforces a bullpen undermined by injuries. He has already made four appearances for the Yankees. But Montas, the centerpiece of the trade and the type of rotation help that other contending teams had also been seeking, had yet to made his Yankees debut.

Because of the death of his mother-in-law, Montas did not join the Yankees until Saturday evening, meeting them in St. Louis. He huddled with catcher Jose Trevino at the team hotel. And a day later, he took the mound as a Yankee for the first time. But even he could not stop the team’s worst skid of 2022.

Montas had his worst start of the season, allowing six runs over three innings Sunday and later admitting that his delivery was “all over the place.” The 12-9 loss to the surging Cardinals capped the first three-game sweep of the Yankees this season and extended the team’s season-worst losing streak to five.

“I wanted to go out there and show them what I can do,” he said. “That was not the case today. But this is not my last one.”

On July 8, the Yankees were on a pace (118) to break a M.L.B. record for wins (116) in a 162-game regular season. They have sputtered since, going 9-16. The Yankees (70-39) still maintain a sizable lead in their division, the A.L. East, but cracks have been showing and they have lost ground to the Houston Astros (70-40) for the top A.L. seed in the postseason.

Against the Cardinals (60-48), who are in first place in the National League Central and have now won seven straight games, Montas’s command was inconsistent. In the second inning, with the Yankees leading, 4-1, he walked the first two batters. Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt each drove in a run — with another walk in between — to bring the Cardinals within one run. Then Nolan Arenado smashed a go-ahead, three-run home run that earned him a curtain call.

Right fielder Aaron Judge tied the score with a two-run double in the fifth inning, but the Yankees’ bullpen squandered that in the bottom half of the frame by allowing three runs.

“We’re definitely going through it right now and frustrated with how we’ve played,” said infielder D.J. LeMahieu, the lone Yankee to homer Sunday. “When we get a good pitching game, we don’t hit, and vice versa.”

Perhaps a reason for Montas’s struggles was his irregular schedule of late. A right-hander, he returned July 21 after missing nearly three weeks with inflammation in his throwing shoulder. He started again for Oakland on July 26, reaching 78 pitches, then was traded to New York. But then came the family death that delayed Montas’s arrival and affected his workload, which, according to Manager Aaron Boone, was still being built back up after the injury anyway.

While Montas was on the bereavement list, Sam Briend, the team’s director of pitching, flew to Arizona to meet with him and oversee his throwing, including a bullpen session, said Matt Blake, the team’s pitching coach.

“We didn’t want him to be out on his own for four or five days and then come and start, so Sam went, kind of got eyes on him, talked through what the expectations were, and gave us a download of what he does in his routine and everything,” Blake said.

Boone added: “We got about as good a week as you can considering the circumstances.”

Ahead of the trade deadline, the Yankees added the All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, a left-handed contact hitter who helps further balance the lineup and weather the absence of Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles’ tendinitis) and the struggles of Aaron Hicks (.226 batting average); the right-handed reliever Scott Effross, who wracks up strikeouts throwing sidearm; Trivino; and Montas.

Montas, 29, fortifies a rotation that has dealt with some struggles (Domingo German has a 5.09 E.R.A. in four starts since his return from a shoulder injury) and that will be without Luis Severino (right latissimus dorsi strain) until mid-September.

But the Yankees also subtracted from their rotation, surprisingly sending the 29-year-old left-hander Jordan Montgomery — who was drafted by the Yankees in 2014, had been pitching solidly (3.69 E.R.A.) and was under team control next year — to the Cardinals for Harrison Bader, a 2021 Gold Glove-winning center fielder who is on the injured list until perhaps September. Although Bader was hitting .256 this season and has been out since late June with plantar fasciitis, he can help shore up the Yankees’ weakest defensive outfield position.

(Calling it emotional and weird to face his former teammates so quickly, Montgomery tossed five scoreless innings against the Yankees in a 1-0 win Saturday.)

Although the baseball industry saw Montas as an upgrade over Montgomery, General Manager Brian Cashman recently said that he did not acquire Montas to then dispatch Montgomery. He said trading for Montas, who will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and swapping Montgomery for Bader were done with the goal of “how can we best be flying high with the best of our abilities when it counts the most in October and what gives us the most amount of quality choices.”

Blake said Montas was similar to Severino, “a bulldog on the mound who attacks you with power.” He added later: “For us, it’s a mid- to upper-90s right-handed pitcher with a full arsenal who can get righties and lefties out. It just fits right at the top of our rotation and gives us another guy that we feel confident going into a postseason with.”

Montas, who originally signed out of his native Dominican Republic with the Boston Red Sox, found his footing with the Athletics after being traded several times. In six years in Oakland, Montas was 35-30 with a 3.70 E.R.A. over nearly 538 innings, was suspended 80 games in 2019 for a performance-enhancing drug and tossed over 180 innings in a season just once (in 2021, with a 3.37 E.R.A.).

Before joining the Yankees, Montas had a 3.18 E.R.A. in 104⅔ innings this season. His first impression didn’t go well, but as they plan for October, the Yankees will need Montas to round into form.

“This is the best team right now, you know?” he said. “They have a good culture and a really good group right here. I’m really excited to be here.”

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United States vs. Netherlands prediction: World Cup picks, odds



The United States men’s national team has a golden opportunity on Saturday morning in the World Cup. With the entire country behind them, the Yanks could qualify for the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. 

Team USA is an underdog against the Netherlands (they’re +375 to win), but the Americans relish the role of being outsiders going up against a very vulnerable favorite. 

As we saw against Wales and Iran, the USMNT can struggle to break down defensive teams. The Yanks are an athletic, creative and quick team, but they’re not all that comfortable in possession. Against Wales and Iran, they dominated possession and struggled to break through enough times to feel comfortable. 

U.S. vs. Netherlands pick: U.S. +375 (PointsBet)

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But against England — easily its best performance of the tournament — the USMNT was able to use its athleticism, team speed and talent to give the Three Lions a lot to think about. England tore through both Iran and Wales, but struggled mightily against the Americans because it couldn’t dominate the midfield. 

Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie have turned into one of the best midfield trios in the tournament. Their ability to make life difficult on opposing midfielders is a huge factor against a Dutch midfield that should be terrific on paper, but has struggled through the first three matches. 

Betting on the World Cup?

In fact, outside of Cody Gakpo, you could say that about the entire Netherlands team. Even though they won Group A with two wins and a draw, Clockwork Oranje have been relatively disappointing compared to their pretournament expectations. 

Drawn into a soft group with Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal, the Netherlands posted a +4 goal differential, but its expected goal difference was -0.4 and it was -1.8 before its 2-0 victory against Qatar on Tuesday. In other words, the Netherlands was a bit fortunate to post the results it did. 

Christian Pulisic of United States
Christian Pulisic of United States
Getty Images

That doesn’t mean that the Dutch can’t grow into this tournament. The history of the World Cup is littered with teams that started slowly and went on to do big things, so there’s no reason to count them out just yet. 

That said, it’s also hard to feel confident about backing them as an odds-on favorite against a team that punches up in competition very well. England is a stronger team than the Netherlands, with a better midfield, and the USMNT gave it fits in a nil-nil draw. 

Winning the battle in the midfield would give the USMNT a serious chance to win this match, and it’s a fair argument to make that the Yanks have the edge in the middle of the field with Adams, Musah and McKennie going up against some combination of Frenkie de Jong, Davy Klaassen, Teun Koopmeiners and Marten de Roon. 

The Netherlands may have advantages in other parts of the pitch, and the U.S. defense has looked a bit vulnerable at times against less talented attacks than the Clockwork Oranje, but the Dutch, aside from Gakpo, just haven’t really looked all that threatening. The Netherlands only created 0.8 expected goals against Senegal and Ecuador. 

Sportsbooks around the country will be a little tepid about how they price the USA, given how much money will come in on the Yanks, but this number is still well worth a bet on a team that profiles extremely well as an underdog. 

U.S. vs. Netherlands pick: U.S.A. +375 (PointsBet)

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Luka Doncic latest superstar the Knicks have to deal with



At some point, the Knicks are going to have to beat a superstar if they want to reach the postseason, and they will get another chance on Saturday afternoon.

The Mavericks and Luka Doncic, the NBA’s leading scorer, will visit the Garden for a matinee, giving coach Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks another chance against one of the league’s top players. So far, the Knicks have lost to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks (twice), Stephen Curry and the Warriors, Ja Morant and the Grizzlies (twice), Kevin Durant and the Nets, Jayson Tatum and the Celtics and Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers.

The closest they have come to knocking off a top-flight star was when they beat Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves. The Knicks did nearly defeat Morant and Antetokounmpo in the past week at the Garden, but lost to the Grizzlies and the Bucks by a combined 10 points.

Doncic, 23, has become one of the premier players in the sport. He is averaging 33.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists while shooting a robust 50.5 percent from the field. He leads the league in player efficiency rating at 32.18 and already has five 40-point games.

Luka Doncic

He will be a major test for the Knicks’ top perimeter defenders, RJ Barrett and Quentin Grimes. They did a good job on him last year in a season sweep of the Mavericks, holding Doncic to 20-of-48 shooting and an average of 26 points in the two games.

The Knicks will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak at the Garden and hoping to improve upon one of the worst home marks in the Eastern Conference. Only the Hornets, with three, have fewer home wins than the Kncisk, who are 4-6 at the Garden. On the road, the Knicks have been much better, with six wins, second in the Eastern Conference to the Celtics’ seven.

“I just think that we have to bring our same road intensity back home,” Jalen Brunson said. “At home, we’re obviously more comfortable and all that. On the road, it’s just us on the road, it’s us and the hostile environment. I think we just got to bring that same mentality at home and finish games.”

The Knicks have lost their last three games at home, to the Trail Blazers, Grizzlies and Bucks, by a combined 13 points.

Former Knick Kemba Walker, who signed this week with Dallas, isn’t expected to play for the Mavericks until the middle of next week, general manager Nico Harrison said on Dallas radio station KTCK-The Ticket. Walker was traded by the Knicks on draft night to the Pistons to free up salary cap space to sign Brunson, and Detroit later bought him out. … The Knicks’ Ryan Arcidiacono (sprained left ankle) didn’t practice on Friday.

With the Mavericks in town, Thibodeau was asked about the NBA’s ongoing tampering investigation regarding the Knicks’ pursuit and acquisition of Brunson.

“At the appropriate time, I think [president] Leon [Rose] will make a statement. But let everyone do their job,” Thibodeau said. “So, that’s the way we’re approaching it. We feel very good about the way we went about things.”

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Pulisic Is Mending but Still Uncertain for Next U.S. Game



DOHA, Qatar — Christian Pulisic was happy to talk about what happened leading up to the goal he scored on Tuesday that carried the United States into the round of 16 at the World Cup.

He was happy to talk about the ride to the hospital after colliding with Iran’s goalkeeper, about how during that journey he followed the rest of the game on a trainer’s cellphone, and about the chances — still not 100 percent, he said — that he would be available to play when the United States faces the Netherlands on Saturday.

What he was far less comfortable talking about, as he stared out into the faces of at least 100 journalists, were the details of where he had been injured. U.S. Soccer has labeled Pulisic’s injury a “pelvic contusion.” Asked by a reporter to clarify what that meant, Pulisic took a long pause.

“I mean,” he said, “it’s a pelvic contusion, you know?”

The specifics hardly matter. What does matter, at least for the United States, is that Pulisic admitted he was not sure he would be physically capable of going through a full training session with his teammates Thursday, 48 hours before they play the biggest game of their lives.

Pulisic’s problem, basically, is that the shot he took in the collision while scoring in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory had affected his ability to do his job. A soccer player’s hips, and especially any of the muscles and tendons and tissue that support them, do vital and interconnected work in assisting movement, turning and sprinting. Pulisic seemed to admit that, at least as of Thursday, he was not sure he had recovered sufficiently to be able to perform at the level he knows will be required on Saturday.

“I’m going to go now and meet with the team and the medical staff and make a decision on today, just kind of see how I’m feeling,” he said in his first public comments since the injury. “Taking it day by day for now, but doing everything in my power to be able to be out there on the field on Saturday.”

It had been excruciating, he admitted, to leave the game after scoring. Pulisic had lain on the field for several minutes after scoring, then needed assistance to get to his feet and remain standing. After a few minutes, he returned to the game, but minutes after that, the halftime whistle blew and he was gone down the stadium tunnel.

When his team returned to the field for the second half, Pulisic was missing, replaced by his teammate Brenden Aaronson.

“Obviously the emotions were running so high, so I was doing everything I could to continue playing,” Pulisic said of his brief return to the game. “It was all kind of a blur, to be honest.”

After an assessment of his condition was made at halftime, he said, the U.S. Soccer medical staff determined he needed to go to a hospital for scans to determine the full nature of his injury. A team trainer, Harris Patel, went along; on the way, Patel called up a video feed of the game on his phone so he and Pulisic could watch what they were missing.

“It was the hardest thing,” Pulisic said. “I think they were checking my blood sugar and everything, and it was flying through the roof, but it wasn’t because of anything — it was just me stress-watching the game. Once I got through that, and the final whistle blew, I was very happy.”

Saturday’s game would be a difficult one to miss. The United States has not played a knockout game at the World Cup since 2014, and the current team represents a new generation of players who have high hopes not only for this tournament, but for the World Cup that will take place in the United States, Canada and Mexico in 2026.

Pulisic already has one good memory from this year’s tournament — and one excruciating one. But as he sat alongside his teammate Timothy Weah, who has scored the Americans’ only other goal in Qatar, in the team’s opening game against Wales, Pulisic said they still felt they had a long way to go.

“It feels great to score in a World Cup,” Pulisic said when asked if he had enjoyed his special moment of the tournament already. “Timmy knows what that’s like. I’m hoping I haven’t had that moment yet. I’m hoping it’s in front of me.”

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