Yesterday the Yankees were said to be close to signing Travis Hafner and now Chad Jennings of the New York Journal News reports that “the deal is in place” and could be announced as soon as today. No word yet on the specifics, but Jennings speculates that it’ll be similar to the one-year, $1.1 million…
In New York, where your every move is dissected to a T by fans and media, achieving and maintaining sports stardom can be difficult to do. Just ask Matt Harvey, who went from being the toast of the town while helping the Mets to the World Series last October to having his ability (and character) roundly criticized after his rough start to the 2016 season. And after he lost back-to-back outings against the Nationals recently, it seemed like he had reached rock bottom.
But for one outing, the man known as "The Dark Knight" managed to silence his critics with a vintage performance against the Chicago White Sox on Memorial Day. He allowed just two hits over seven shutout frames, striking out six and issuing just one walk in the Mets' 1-0 win. The victory raised his record to 4-7 and lowered his ERA to 5.37.
And unlike his previous start, he addressed the media after the game. Per MLB.com:
"There's a lot of emotion....It's been a while.…The idea is to do everything you can to help the team, and I felt like I wasn't doing that very well. Today, to be able to go out in a one-run ballgame like that and be able to put up zeros, was very exciting."
The difference for Harvey on Monday was establishing his dominant fastball that had been missing for most of the first two months of the season. His heater was clocked as high as 98 mph, a marked improvement over his previous starts.
Harvey was considered a hero in 2015, his first full campaign post-Tommy John surgery, as he pitched a total of 216 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. No pitcher had ever thrown that many innings in the first season following the procedure. And it's precisely that fact that many have pointed to when discussing whether or not the 27-year-old right hander is still feeling the effects from last year's overuse.
So will Harvey return to form? Can he reclaim his status at the Mets ace? It's too early to tell, but Monday's outing was the first that provided a light at the end of the tunnel. Just don't expect the circus to end anytime soon.
"I think it's a first step," Harvey said. "Obviously, this isn't going to mean anything unless I continue to do this and stay with what we've been working on. It's a work in progress, but I'm happy that I was able to go out there, feel comfortable in my mechanics and get the job done."
Nats (31-21) vs. Phillies (26-25) at Citizens Bank Park
Fresh off their comeback victory on Monday night, the Nationals will look to make it three straight wins overall as the continue their series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Bryce Harper is out of the Nationals' lineup on Tuesday after he took a pitch off his right leg on Monday night. Harper was diagnosed with a contusion on his right leg and, as of last night, was considered day-to-day according to what manager Dusty Baker told reporters in Philly.
Pitching for the Nats will be Joe Ross (4-4, 2.52) in his 10th start of the season. He's coming off a strong performance of seven innings and just one earned run against the Cardinals. Ross saw the Phillies back on April 15 and tossed 7 2/3 scoreless frames in a Nationals win.
Former seventh overall pick Aaron Nola (4-3, 2.86) will take the mound for Philly. He's faced the Nats twice this season, once allowing seven earned runs in five innings on April 16 and then the other time going seven shutout frames in a Phillies win on April 28.
First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
Radio: 106.7 The Fan, XM 869
Starting pitchers: Nats - Joe Ross vs. Phillies - Aaron Nola
CF Ben Revere
RF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ryan Zimmerman
LF Clint Robinson
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Joe Ross
CF Odubel Herrera
SS Freddy Galvis
3B Maikel Franco
C Cameron Rupp
1B Ryan Howard
LF Tyler Goeddel
RF David Lough
2B Cesar Hernandez
RHP Aaron Nola
Redskins cornerback Josh Norman has been named No. 1 on ProFootballFocus.com’s list of 20 “offseason additions likely to make an immediate impact.”
Norman was PFF’s top-rated corner based on QB rating allowed (54.0 percent) last season.
Overall, the football analytics website graded the 28-year-old as the game’s sixth best corner in 2015 (tied with Arizona's Patrick Peterson).
Norman, of course, signed a five-year, $75 million contract in Washington on April 22, just days after Carolina rescinded its franchise tag tender to the All-Pro corner. Now, he’s the Redskins’ best player on defense and, arguably, their best player on either side of the ball.
“[Norman] should be a dramatic upgrade in Washington,” PFF’s John Breitenbach concluded in an article posted Wednesday.
Breitenbach added: "New Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry improved the defense in 2015, but had an obvious hole in the secondary opposite Bashaud Breeland. Chris Culliver struggled last season, allowing a QB rating of 134.8 (surrendering four touchdowns on 35 targets)."
That hole, obviously, will be filled by Norman, who is set to start opposite Breeland, the 2014 fourth rounder who's coming off a breakout sophomore season.
Culliver, meantime, was released on May 2.
Norman’s new teammates, meanwhile, couldn’t be any more pumped about Norman's arrival.
"I was excited, just adding another piece to the defense," four-time Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams said recently. "It’s extremely tough to come [up with] good corners. So to get one of his caliber is extremely exciting."
Defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois added: "He’s going to help us a lot. I feel like a lot of quarterbacks won’t really try to throw at him. And if they do, they are going to have to gameplan him. Just to have a solid corner and [other] veterans in your secondary, that should make Joe B’s job a lot easier. He can call blitzes. He can man-up. I know a lot of people say we’re good [in] zone, but with a corner like that, you can man-up and send that front after somebody."
During the NFL’s interminable offseason, there are lists ranking anything and everything. If this one turns out to be correct, though, the Redskins' defense could make a significant leap in 2016.
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