The 9th Inning Column: The London Series, Race for NL MVP, and Brendan McKay’s fantastic debut

Welcome back to the 9th Inning. This is the third edition of this in the 2019 MLB season. This is a monthly column on Pro Sports Fandom in which I roundup the month’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I’ll discuss what teams are hot and what teams are not. I will also give my personal thoughts on a few notable baseball-related events as well as giving out monthly awards for team of the month, players of the month, and rookies of the month. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that happens near the end of every month. This is the second article of this season and I hope for some immense success with this column. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global outreach as possible.

I’m going to start the 9th Inning Column for June with a few rounded-up thoughts in recap of the biggest stories recently, both on the field and off.

The London Series

What a wild two game series it was in London this weekend between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The two teams combined for 50 runs, a two-game record between the two clubs. It was an offensive showdown on both days, as neither starting pitcher made it out of the first inning in Game 1, and the bullpen for both teams proved to be shaky at times. The Yankees had three innings in the series in which they scored six or more runs, and the Red Sox had two of these innings. When the MLB returns to London next season, hopefully they can give the fans a pitcher’s duel to remember.

The race for NL MVP

Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger are in a tight race for the National League MVP award at the moment. Both of these young outfielders are having fabulous seasons and Yelich is looking to win his second MVP in a row. Both are All-Star starters, so how do we separate them? Bellinger has a better batting average, RBIs, and WAR, while Yelich has more home runs and stolen bases. It’s extremely close at the moment, but Bellinger would be my pick if I had to choose between these two.

McKay’s fantastic debut

The Tampa Bay Rays had an exciting weekend by taking a series with the Texas Rangers, but also with the debut of highly touted prospect Brendan McKay, who came up as a pitcher who still has two-way potential. He was ranked as the 23rd best prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline and he was the second best prospect in the Rays system. He retired the first 16 batters of his MLB career and finished a terrific outing by pitching six innings of one-hit shutout baseball with only one walks and three strikeouts. This is a sign of things to come for McKay, who has an extremely bright future in the big leagues.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

The New York Yankees have been on the hot section of this list for all three columns thus far in 2019, and it seems to be with good reason. Since losing two in a row to the White Sox on June 13th and 14th, the Yankees rattled off eight consecutive victories and have gone 13-1 overall, with series wins over the Rays, Astros, and Red Sox. Chad Green has found success as an opener as he pitched to a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings during the month. The offense was ruthless throughout the month, led by D.J. LeMahieu’s clutch hitting, Gleyber Torres balanced approach, Gary Sánchez’s pop, and the returning Aaron Judge. They are undoubtedly the best team in baseball right now, and they’ve shown no signs of slowing down.

The Oakland Athletics have once again gotten extremely hot near the end of the month, similar to how the month of May concluded. They’ve gone 7-3 in their past 10 games, climbing within a half game of the second AL Wildcard spot. Matt Olson was a big contributor for the A’s, hitting 9 homers and notching 20 RBIs. Ramon Laureano also showed significant increases in his power hitting abilities, hitting 7 home runs in the month. It certainly hurts to lose Frankie Montas to a PED suspension, but the Athletics are still hungry to make the postseason for the second straight season.

The Washington Nationals were struggling to win not too long ago, but recently they’ve found something that’s clicked. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games and still find themselves in the thick of the hunt for the NL Wildcard spots. Anthony Rendon continued to prove why he’s going to get paid this fall, as he batted .311 with 9 homers and 24 RBIs in the month. Max Scherzer was also phenomenal in June, but we’ll discuss that later. All this stretch did was prove that the Nats won’t sell and why would they?

The New York Mets were expected to contend in the NL East in 2019, but instead they looked like they’ve built an utter disaster. They just ended a seven game losing streak and have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games. The roster was built to win but it simply has not done that, as they now sit 12 games back of the first place Braves. Barring a massive hot stretch, it doesn’t look like Queens will be able to see their hometown Mets play in October this season.

The Boston Red Sox have simply not looked like a great baseball team this season. The defending champs have serious issues with the bullpen and getting run support for Chris Sale. The London Series was pretty embarrassing to be quite frank with you, as Rick Porcello and the bullpen got slaughtered. They’ve fallen 11 games back of the Yankees in the AL East standings amid a three game losing streak and a 4-6 stretch in their last 10 games.

The Monthly Awards:

Team of the Month is…

The Atlanta Braves (20-8)

Despite losing to the Mets on Sunday Night Baseball in difficult fashion, the Braves had a phenomenal month in June, going 20-8 and building a 5.5 game lead in the NL East Standings over the Philadelphia Phillies. They joined the 50 win club yesterday, becoming the fifth team to do so thus far in 2019. Freddie Freeman is unbelievable, Ronald Acuña Jr. is one of the game’s brightest young stars, and Mike Soroka has been unbelievable in his rookie season. Even if they don’t win the World Series this year, the Braves can rest assured that they have one of the brightest futures of any team in the MLB.

Hitter of the Month is…

New York Yankees 2B D.J. LeMahieu

LeMahieu was an absolute superstar for the unstoppable Yankees offense in June, and he is climbing his way up the AL MVP contenders list because of it. LeMahieu batted .395 in the month with six homers and 29 RBIs with a 1.092 OPS. He continues to be one of the most (if not, the most) valuable signings from the offseason. In fact, he’s been rewarded for his outstanding play by being named as the AL Starter at Second Base in the 2019 All-Star Game. He undoubtedly deserves the hitter of the month award for his performance in June.

Starter of the Month is…

Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer

Frequently being talked about as a long shot trade deadline target for a few clubs, Max Scherzer’s dominant month of June has been a huge reason why the Nationals are right back in the NL Wildcard hunt. He broke his nose and pitched a gem against the Phillies the next day. Not to mention, he made 6 starts in the month, getting the victory in all 6, and pitching 45 innings with a 1.00 ERA. He only gave up 25 hits, 5 runs, and had 68 strikeouts against only 5 walks in the month. Opponents were hitting just .156 against him and he had a 0.67 WHIP as a result.

Reliever of the Month is…

Oakland Athletics RHP Liam Hendriks

Used as an opener near the end of the 2018 campaign, Liam Hendriks has reestablished himself as one of the better relief pitchers on the Oakland Athletics roster. He pitched 15 innings of one run baseball in June, good for a 0.60 earned run average. He gave up only 10 hits, struck out 22, and walked four batters. Opposing hitters batted just .192 against him in the month and struggled against him all month long.

Rookie Hitter of the Month is…

New York Mets 1B Pete Alonso

Despite being apart of a struggling Mets ball club, first baseman Pete Alonso coasted his way to his second Rookie Hitter of the Month award for my column. In June, the newly announced NL All-Star batted .309 with 9 home runs, 19 RBIs, and a 1.097 OPS. He also had an impressive on-base percentage of .437, as he walked 17 times compared to striking out 22 times. If he continues to hit like this, he’ll be the unquestioned NL Rookie of the Year.

Rookie Pitcher of the Month is…

Arizona Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly

You might be questioning how a 30 year old can be a successful rookie, but Merrill Kelly fits the bill. An eighth round draft pick of the Rays in the 2010 draft, Kelly pitched in the minors until 2015, when he went to the KBO to play baseball. After three years there, Kelly has made his MLB debut in 2019. He was phenomenal in June, making six starts and pitching 39.1 innings with a 2.75 earned run average. He only walked five batters all month and opponents were hitting .212 with a .238 on-base percentage against him in the month.

Thanks for reading the June edition of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! I’ll be back next month! Peace!

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Overcoming injuries, the Yankees are in the midst of an unbelievable run and the rest of the MLB should be scared

On paper, with 18 players having hit the injured list thus far in 2019, many baseball fans would have forecasted the New York Yankees as being in serious trouble. They certainly would have said this if you told them that Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Dellin Betances, Miguel Andujar, Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Severino, James Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki, and C.C. Sabathia all being on the list on May 23rd. On top of this, the Yankees are still awaiting midsummer returns from a left handed MLB caliber starter Jordan Montgomery, possible bullpen depth in Ben Heller, and starting shortstop Didi Gregorius.

One good thing is that 2019 returns are expected for all but one injured Yankee, as young third baseman Miguel Andujar recently underwent season-ending surgery to repair his torn labrum. The ravaged roster won’t be fully healthy anytime soon, but there has been some good news lately and reinforcements are on the way. As of now, Judge, Betances, Tulowitzki, and Gregorius look to be on tap for returns in early to mid June. Giancarlo Stanton could join that group after he returns to rehab from his latest setback.

Offseason acquisition James Paxton (knee inflammation) should be returning for a start this weekend against the Kansas City Royals, which will be huge for the Yankees as the big lefty was dominating on the bump before he went down, racking up a 3.11 earned run average in 37.2 innings of work. It also will provide a rotation replacement for another fallen Yankee, as veteran lefty C.C. Sabathia just went on the IL with knee inflammation.

Luis Severino is not expected to make his season debut until after the All-Star break in July, as he is still recovering from a lat strain suffered in Spring Training. The good news is that Severino is likely to start throwing soon, according to Yankees skipper Aaron Boone.

What would you have guessed the Yankees record would be through 48 games? I wouldn’t have said 31-17, and you wouldn’t have either. So how have the Yankees been so prolific and dominant en route to the third best record in Major League Baseball?

There are many players who have been key to the team’s immense success, but perhaps none more important than right hander Domingo Germán, third baseman Gio Urshela, and middle infielder D.J. LeMahieu. In a season full of unknowns, these three have been the most consistent players for New York.

Germán has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees, as he’s become the unexpected ace of the staff in 2019. Coming off of a rough rookie season in the Bronx, the 26 year old made the Opening Day roster and has dominated ever since. He leads the MLB in wins with 9, having lowered his walks and home runs allowed per nine innings. In 55 and a third innings, he’s pitched to a 2.60 ERA and opponents are hitting just .184 against him. He also has a sub one WHIP at 0.98. If he continues pitching like this, an AL Cy Young award would not be out of the picture.

Urshela was acquired for basically nothing from the Toronto Blue Jays last season, and he’s off to a torrid start manning the hot corner in the Bronx. He’s played in 38 big league games, made some spectacular plays at third base, and has been an extremely clutch hitter for the Yankees in late situations. Two weeks ago, down by two in the ninth and with one runner on, Urshela connected on his second homer of the year, tying the game against the Mariners before D.J. LeMahieu won the game for the Yanks a few batters later. Last Friday, tied at 3 in the ninth with the Rays, Urshela lined a walkoff hit over the head of Kevin Kiermaier to give the Yankees the division lead.

Looking back at the offseason, one of the most underrated signings was D.J. LeMahieu to the Yankees on a relatively team-friendly deal. He’s undoubtedly been the team’s most consistent hitter, as he’s sat with an average safely over the .300 mark for most of 2019 to date. He’s also hit four home runs and has 25 RBIs. Signed as utility infield depth, D.J. has certainly proven himself to be an everyday impact starter heading into the summer.

After these guys, there have been so many impactful players on the roster. Masahiro Tanaka has been utterly consistent and has been dominant in the month of May. Overall, the 30 year old right hander is 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA in 58.1 innings pitched. A big key for Tanaka in 2019 has been the lowering of the number of homers he is giving up per nine innings. Before his knee inflammation caught up to him, C.C. Sabathia was putting up solid numbers as he went 3-1 with a 3.48 earned run average. J.A. Happ is struggling to start the season (5.16 ERA in 52.1 innings), but the rest of the team is picking up the slack.

The fierce bullpen is starting to shape into form with plenty of All-Star caliber guys involved. Tommy Kahnle appears to have bounced back from a tough 2018 campaign. He has been a reliable reliever thus far in 2019, appearing in 22 games, racking up a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings. Zack Britton has been his nasty self so far as well, racking up a 2.53 ERA in 22 appearances and a total of 21.1 innings pitched. Adam Ottavino (1.54 ERA) and Aroldis Chapman (1.83 ERA) have been a lock down duo late in games. If Chad Green (12.41 ERA) figures himself out and reverts to something close to his 2017 self or even 2018 self, this could be an even more dominant bullpen.

22 year old rising superstar middle infielder Gleyber Torres has been superb in 2019 and has been really hot as of late. He’s hit 12 home runs and has 26 RBIs with a .302 batting average. Torres also is clocking in at a .906 OPS percentage. Luke Voit has been really solid following up his torrid two month stretch to end 2018, batting .259 with an .858 OPS, 11 homers, and 34 RBIs. Perhaps the biggest and most welcomed turnaround is that of catcher Gary Sánchez, who has bounced back from a historically bad 2018 campaign. The MLB’s best offensive catcher is batting .270 with a team-leading 15 home runs and a ridiculous 1.018 OPS.

When the injured Yankees start to get healthy, they should be feared by the rest of the MLB. There will also be a bunch of decisions that they’ll have to make, and some of them will be really tough. Looking at a healthy Yankees lineup later this season, you would see the likes of Sánchez, LeMahieu, Torres, Gregorius, Urshela, Stanton, Hicks, Judge, and Voit at the designated hitter spot. On the bench, you could have bats like Frazier, Gardner, Romine, and Tulowitzki.

You’re looking at a guaranteed four man pitching rotation of Tanaka, Severino, Germán, and Paxton. To fill the fifth spot, they’ll have to make a tough decision with three left handers in Sabathia, Happ, and Montgomery. Right now, Sabathia would be my choice and I’d move Happ to the bullpen. The bullpen would consist of Chapman, Betances, Ottavino, Britton, Kahnle, Holder, Happ, and possibly Chad Green if he figures it out.

What if the Yankees want to make a move at the trade deadline? Well, they certainly have the organizational depth to do so, but I don’t know what they would look for. The Giants will almost assuredly look to deal 29 year old ace Madison Bumgarner, but the Yankees would have a lot of competitors in that market. If the Indians fall out of the playoff race, they may trade 28 year old starter Trevor Bauer, and the Yankees reportedly attempted to acquire him in the offseason. The Nationals may opt to trade pending free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, and the Yankees may look to get involved if Gio Urshela comes down to earth.

The Yankees could possibly dangle guys like Jordan Montgomery, Clint Frazier, Thairo Estrada, and some of their top prospects to acquire a big piece for the postseason push. But if they continue to play like this, they may not have to do so. It’s been an unbelievable run for the injury plagued Yankees and it doesn’t look to be close to stopping soon.

The 9th Inning (April): Vlad Jr’s debut, Mize’s Double-A gem, and what’s wrong with the Red Sox?

Welcome to the 9th Inning. This is the first edition of this in the 2019 MLB season. This is going to be a monthly column on Pro Sports Fandom in which I roundup the month’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I’ll discuss what teams are hot and what teams are not. I will also give my personal thoughts on a few notable baseball-related events as well as giving out monthly awards for team of the month, players of the month, and rookies of the month. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that will happen near the end of every month. This is the debut article of this season and I hope for some immense success with this column. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global outreach as possible.

I’m going to start the 9th Inning Column for April with a few rounded-up thoughts in recap of the biggest stories recently, both on the field and off.

Vlad Jr’s debut

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his highly anticipated MLB debut this past weekend for the Toronto Blue Jays. MLB Pipeline’s number one prospect may have been the most hyped up debut since Bryce Harper. Guerrero is only batting .250 after his first series is in the books, but part of that is due to him not getting great pitches to hit. MLB.com says that Guerrero had a 37.3% zone rate over his first few games. The Blue Jays are set to take on the Angels in Anaheim in their weekday series, and it’ll be a great series to watch!

2018 top draft pick dominates in first AA Start

Not often will I talk about a player in the Double-A levels of minor league ball in this column, but I feel that this one is well deserved. Casey Mize, the number one overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, made his AA debut with the Detroit Tigers on Monday. The Auburn product dominated and sent a message to the scouts, throwing a nine inning no-hitter in a win for the Erie Seawolves. It was an impressive performance that caught the eyes of many, as Mize only walked one batter and hit another. If he continues to pitch like this, Detroit may soon have a bonafide ace on their big league roster.

What’s wrong with the Red Sox?

The defending champion Boston Red Sox are off to a sour start in the 2019 season, having a 12-17 record to show for it just one month in. They’ve cleaned it up as of late, but there’s still cause for concern with the Beantown squad. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been horrible with the bat, 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce is struggling, and Eduardo Rodriguez/Chris Sale both have ERAs over 6. If the pitching staff doesn’t get going soon, Boston may find itself in a hole too big to overcome, but there’s certainly reason to believe in this team. I mean heck, they are the defending World Series Champs after all!

Where do the Giants go from here?

A lot of talk has circulated about how the San Francisco Giants will attack the summer trade deadline. It’s the final season for manager Bruce Bochy, and it is perhaps the final year for longtime franchise ace Madison Bumgarner in the Bay Area. The Giants have built a team of veterans in hopes of competing in 2019, but it’s gone very badly thus far. They are 12-17 in the NL West, which is last in the division. They are not doing well at the plate, and Jeff Samardzija is their only qualified starting pitcher with an ERA below four. As we near June, the Giants are creeping closer and closer to being the first team to sell off their top veterans to buyers.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

The banged-up New York Yankees are the hottest team in baseball right now, as they’ve gone 11-2 since losing a home series to the Chicago White Sox on April 14th. Luke Voit was dominant for the Bronx Bombers last week on their West Coast road trip, winning AL Player of the Week Honors by going 13 for 30 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. In doing so, Voit has continued a ridiculous 39-game on base streak into the Yankees two game series against the Diamondbacks.

The Minnesota Twins have won 8 of their last 10 games and have taken 2.5 game lead in the AL Central over the Cleveland Indians. Eddie Rosario (11 HRs) and Jorge Polanco (.948 OPS) have lead the scorching hot Twins offensive attack and Jose Berrios continues to grow into an ace, leaving the Twins in great position to make a run at the postseason in 2019.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won 8 of their last 10 games as well, en route to taking a three game lead over the Cubs and Brewers in the NL Central Division. Paul DeJong (.342 AVG, 5 HRs) and Marcell Ozuna (.271 AVG, 10 HRs) are leading a Redbirds offense that is still awaiting an inevitable annual hot stretch from All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

After a rough start to the 2019 campaign, the Chicago Cubs have gotten back near the top of the NL Central with a recent hot stretch. They are winners of 7 of their last 10 games, climbing into a tie for second in the division with the Milwaukee Brewers. Javier Baez has been otherworldly thus far, hitting .315 with 9 home runs and 22 RBIs. The Cubs are also getting great contribution from catcher Willson Contreras (1.033 OPS). They can certainly push for the NL Central, and I fully expect them to do so.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were 12-6 after a win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, April 20th. Since then? They’ve been one of the worst teams in baseball, losing eight straight and falling to fourth place in the NL Central Division. With competition like the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals, the Pirates cannot have losing streaks like this and expect to stay atop the division. If they don’t figure it out soon, Pittsburgh could be in serious hot water.

The Washington Nationals have also caught a case of the cold as we flip the calendar to May. They’ve lost three series in a row to teams that I’m just not quite sure they should be losing to. On paper, the Nats have one of the best complete rosters in all of Major League Baseball, but they haven’t been able to put it together just yet in 2019. Let’s see what this team does in May before we press the panic button!

The Oakland Athletics are in serious danger of not getting back to the postseason already in 2019, and that’s not because I don’t have faith in their ability to turn it around after a rough start. The AL West is more competitive this year, and the A’s have struggled as of late, getting swept by Toronto twice in two weeks and losing 7 of their last 10. Will Khris Davis and the Oakland crew figure it out before it’s too late?

The Monthly Awards:

Team of the Month is…

The Tampa Bay Rays (19-9)

The Rays definitely were not a lot of experts picks to lead the AL East through one month, but here we are. Tampa Bay holds a 1.5 game lead on the Yankees as we speak, and they’ve had a terrific first month of baseball. A big reason for their success is the pitching staff, as Tyler Glasgow (5 wins, 1.75 ERA), 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell (2 wins, 2.54 ERA), and free agent acquisition Charlie Morton (3 wins, 2.76 ERA) lead the MLB’s top pitching staff thus far. Jose Alvarado has been one of baseball’s best relievers (we’ll discuss him later) and the Rays are much deeper than this, but there’s too many people to name. Austin Meadows was absolutely raking before he got injured (.351, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs), and he should be back rather soon. Yandy Diaz (.298, 7 HRs, 18 RBIs) is having a breakout season at the hot corner for Tampa Bay and veteran outfielder Tommy Pham continues to put up productive numbers (.294, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs). They should be taken seriously as one of the premier World Series contenders.

The Hitter of the Month is …

Los Angeles Dodgers OF/1B Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger has played at both right field and first base this year, so I’m not sure what to call him with such a small sample size. But I can call him something, and that is an absolutely on-fire baseball player. The third-year superstar has been nothing short of spectacular in 2019, batting .434 with 14 homers and 37 RBIs. His on-base percentage is over .500 and his slugging percentage sits firmly at .906. What’s even more impressive is that Bellinger has increased his base on balls percentage from 10.9% to 14.1%, while also cutting down his strikeout percentage from 23.9% in 2018 to 11.7% through one month of 2019. If he continues to play like this, he will shatter records, and with this hot start, he’s certainly the favorite to win NL MVP!

Starter of the Month is …

Cincinnati Reds RHP Luis Castillo

When called up to the bigs in 2017, Luis Castillo was the tenth best prospect in the Reds farm system. With a lot of patience by Cincinnati’s staff, Castillo looks to be turning the corner into one of the best pitchers in the National League. His first month of 2019 certainly proved such, as the 26 year old rising phenom has made six starts, going 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA in 36.1 innings of work. He’s striking out more batters than he has at any point in his young career, and has reduced his home runs per nine innings rate from a sour 1.49 in 2018 to an impressive 0.25 thus far in 2019. His HR/FB rate sits at a solid 4.5%, showing that Castillo has been stingy in terms of preventing the longball. At this point, batters just haven’t been able to hit his stuff, as hitters are hitting just .165 against him. If he continues to pitch like this, he may just deliver the NL Cy Young Award to Great American Ball Park.

The Reliever of the Month is …

Tampa Bay Rays LHP Jose Alvarado

Dating back to 2018, the 23 year old Alvarado has been one of the best relievers in all of Major League Baseball, and that trend has continued to pick up steam as we turn the calendar to May. Thrust into a big late-inning role in 2019, the lefty has been nothing short of excellent thus far. He’s made four saves in 14 appearances, pitching his way to a 1.38 ERA and a 1.82 FIP, proving his performance is no fluke. Alvarado has not surrendered a home run yet this season, and he’s striking out 13.1 batters per nine innings. The only negative in 2019 is that Alvarado’s walks per nine innings rate has increased a bit from 4.08 to 4.85, but it’s not too severe of a jump.

The Rookie Hitter of the Month is …

New York Mets 1B Peter Alonso

A second round selection by the Mets in the 2016 MLB Draft, Peter Alonso has made a quick transition to the pros. He is a phenomenal hitter and subpar defender at first base, and he showed that in the minor leagues all the way up until earning the Mets starting first baseman job in 2019. Since he earned the job, Alonso has proven why he was one of the Mets untradeable chips as they rebuilt last year. He’s an early frontrunner for the NL Rookie of the Year award, as he’s batting .304 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in 2019. He will have to continue to work on balancing his approach and limiting strikeouts, but right now, Alonso is hot and off to the races, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The Rookie Pitcher of the Month is …

San Diego Padres RHP Chris Paddack

Paddack is the 31st best prospect in all of Major League Baseball according to MLB Pipeline, but after one month of him in the bigs, I think he may deserve a huge boost before he loses his eligibility on such lists. He’s 23 years old and has been firing on all cylinders to start his MLB career. He’s made five starts, going 1-1 and pitching 27 innings with a 1.67 ERA, ranking third amongst all National League pitchers with 25 or more innings pitched. He’s just been purely unhittable, as opposing hitters have a .111 batting average against him. He’s striking out 10 batters per nine innings, only walking about 2.6 per nine, and only surrenders 0.6 home runs per nine. If he continues to pitch like this, he’ll be right in the thick of the battle for NL Rookie of the Year with his teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mets slugger Pete Alonso (mentioned above).

Thanks for reading the season debut of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! I’ll be back next month! Peace!

Doubting the King is never a good idea, and last night’s Laker win over Boston proved just that

On Thursday, February 7th, much of the talk in the NBA was surrounding the trade deadline. It usually is always like this on this big day, but this year it seemed somewhat different. Perhaps the biggest headline was the fact that it looked as if the Lakers weren’t going to acquire disgruntled superstar center Anthony Davis from the Pelicans. There had been a week of negotiating and leveraging between New Orleans and LA, but Pelicans general manager Dell Demps wasn’t ever seriously considering dealing the NBA’s best big man to the Lake Show.

Demps seemingly made his mind up on waiting to trade Davis until the summer, when the draft pick stacked Boston Celtics can enter the bidding war for the star. Demps also looks to love the idea of acquiring 2017 top three draft pick Jayson Tatum from the Celtics in a potential trade package. It became clear the Lakers were done for the day when they made a move to trade 21 year old center Ivica Zubac and veteran forward Michael Beasley to the rival Clippers for floor stretching center Mike Muscala. It might’ve been a panic move to trade away a young player who’d been contributing a ton for the team while LeBron James was out, but many are saying it was a move made primarily to add more shooting and create a roster spot for the buyout market.

A few days ago, the Lakers made their first trade deadline move, acquiring experienced shooting and defense from the Pistons in the form of forward Reggie Bullock. The buyout market name they’ve been connected to most is Carmelo Anthony, who isn’t as good as he once was, but still could be an impactful bench player for the Lakers. But enough of discussing players who aren’t yet on the roster or are possible additions, what happened last night at the TD Garden was a big statement for the Lakers and one that was much needed.

It honestly felt like there wasn’t even a game on this trade deadline day, but the Lakers were continuing their Eastern Conference road trip against the Boston Celtics, renewing a longtime rivalry between two NBA powerhouses. The Lakers were two and a half games out of the 8th seed in the West, and were just now getting healthy with LeBron James having returned a few games ago. But fans were worried, they hadn’t made a big splash at the deadline, and they were coming off a 42-point road loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

It looked as if another big blowout loss was going to be handed to the Lakers on Thursday night in the early stages of the game. The Lakers came out ice cold, missing shots inside the paint and out, and also struggling to shoot free throws. In the second quarter, Boston started connecting on open shots, and opened up a 53-35 lead when Luke Walton called for a timeout with less than seven minutes remaining. Social media was calling for Walton to be fired in order to send a message to the team, but what happened after this timeout was something no one could’ve expected.

The Lakers started playing fast-paced basketball, getting back to their preferred style of play. They also began hitting shots and making plays on defense, as they finished the half on a 22-13 run to cut the Celtics lead in half. The hot stretch continued as the Lake Show came out for the second half, taking the lead early in the third quarter. The Lakers hit nine threes in the quarter, including four from young rising star Kyle Kuzma, who is still finding a feel for his jumper. The Lakers led by six at the end of the third quarter, which by the way was a 42-point third quarter, and likely the team’s best quarter of the season.

But NBA fans knew that Boston wouldn’t let up easily, as they stormed back to take the lead and it looked as if they wouldn’t let it slip a second time. Kyrie Irving was getting hot, and the Celtics couldn’t seem to be stopped by LA. But they also couldn’t seem to stop the King, as LeBron made the fourth quarter his. He first hit a three with less than six minutes to go that got the Lakers within two. Two minutes later, James stepped back to make a 27 foot three point jumper to cut the lead to one.

The three was quickly answered by Kyrie Irving’s step back three pointer that put the lead back to four points. A possession later when Irving hit two free throws, many fans thought the Celtics were in a safe position and wouldn’t blow a six point lead in the final three minutes. With Boston doubling up on LeBron, the Lakers young core had to step up in the bright lights, and they proved to be ready for the challenge. Brandon Ingram hit a quick pull-up jumper to make it a four point game, and after Jayson Tatum missed a jumper, Ingram assisted on a sweet Kyle Kuzma floater.

The Celtics led 119-117 with less than three minutes remaining. They possibly could’ve put a dagger in the Lakers when Marcus Smart got open twice on their next possession. Smart, the most accurate shooter in the East since the new year, came up short on both attempts before the Lakers secured the rebound. Brandon Ingram drove inside and got fouled by Kyrie Irving, but the Lakers free throw struggles continued as Ingram only managed to hit one of two. After missing the second, Ingram committed a silly foul on an inbounds pass by basically tackling Kyrie, who made both free throws to give the Celtics a three point lead.

After Kyle Kuzma missed an easy inside shot, the Celtics ran the fast break and Irving found a wide open Marcus Morris in the corner for three, and he drilled it. With the Celtics up six with nearly a minute to play, it felt over. But it wasn’t over, and the Lakers didn’t fold under pressure. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope answered with an open corner three on an inbounds pass from Rajon Rondo. Then when Kyrie Irving lost control of the ball, Brandon Ingram stole it and ran the fast break. The former number two overall pick dished it off to LeBron, who nearly lost the ball out of bounds while driving to the rim on Kyrie and Al Horford. The older James made an acrobatic save that ended up in the hands of KCP, who quickly saw James getting back into the play in the corner. And just like we would expect from the greatest ever, James silenced the TD Garden crowd with a three pointer to tie the game at 124.

After the Celtics called a timeout, Jayson Tatum drew a foul on the inbounds play and was able to hit two free throws to give them the lead. The Lakers called a timeout and Luke Walton drew up a beautiful play that would get the focus on LeBron and open up Kuzma for three. It worked to perfection as Kuzma drilled the go-ahead three pointer with 18.5 seconds left. Kyrie Irving didn’t let up though, as he drove to the basket and got an angle for the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds left.

The Lakers had no timeouts, and Marcus Morris wasn’t letting LeBron get the ball, so Brandon Ingram brought the ball up quickly. He drove into the paint and went for an up and under layup that was heavily contested by Al Horford. The ball was batted around before Tyson Chandler hit it towards Rajon Rondo, who caught it and swished the game-winning mid range jumper as the buzzer sounded.

It was a huge win for a Lakers team that really needed it. They’d battled all night and came out on top with a storybook ending for the former Celtic point guard in Rondo. The floor general had a game for the ages in his return home, scoring 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting, dishing out 10 assists, and grabbing 7 rebounds. He also hit three of four three point attempts. The King dominated this game as well, scoring 28 points, grabbing 12 boards, and dishing out 12 assists in a great performance.

It was a team effort however, as the young guys continued to produce despite having all of this drama surrounding them as of late. Kyle Kuzma looks to be gaining confidence in his jumper, scoring 25 points and hitting five three pointers. Brandon Ingram struggled from the field (4 for 14), but he played tremendous defense on Kyrie Irving for a long portion of the night, and he made impact plays away from his scoring, recording seven assists. The veterans were contributors as well, with JaVale McGee putting up 17 points and 8 rebounds, Lance Stephenson scoring 14 points off the bench, and KCP hitting five threes in a 17 point bench performance.

After this win, it has certainly become clear that these Lakers are a playoff team with this mix of veterans and rising young players, but they’ll have to continue winning over the final two months of the season to secure their spot. And don’t forget that they played last night’s game without any of their new trade deadline additions and Lonzo Ball. The road to the playoffs won’t be easy, but it certainly got easier with the Clippers seemingly tanking by trading star forward Tobias Harris to Philly. This win could be the game that turns the season around, but we will all have to wait and see.

The team celebrated this win together and nobody could’ve expected this from a team that looked terrible and had no chemistry in that awful loss to the Pacers. With the trade deadline behind them, the Lakers young core was still in tact and they played more confidently on this night. Being embroiled in trade deadline rumors for a week had to have been tough and it definitely took a toll on these young guys, but they overcame these hardships and won this game, together. But the main takeaway from last night’s thriller is simply this: don’t doubt LeBron James, he’s playing some of his best basketball of his career, he’s finally healthy, and he’s still the King.

PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em: Week 9 Preview, Predictions, and Analysis

Welcome back to the ninth edition of the extravagant PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em. Week 8 was an absolute slugfest for most of our writers, and they’ll look to continue their hot streaks on the stretch run as we head into Week 9 and beyond. We learned a lot in Week 8, including how good the Texans might really be, the Redskins are a sure fire contender, and the Saints-Rams game has a potential to be the game of the year. Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were fired as the Browns have been skidding down the AFC North standings as of late. The trade deadline was pretty fun as well, with Golden Tate being shipped to the Eagles, Demaryius Thomas headed to Houston, as well as many more trades. But as we head into the second half of the season and beyond, the theme of high-powered offense is starting to become the norm of this 2018 NFL season.

The PSF NFL pick’em crew is in its second season, with a few new faces, a new indefinite leader, and some of your favorite pickers. Without further ado, let’s meet everyone on the crew. Be sure to check them out on twitter and give everybody a follow. They’re genuinely great people and are worth a follow.

  • Tristan Beckmann (@TBeckmann24)
  • Chris Chastain (@ChrisC_01)
  • Ian Cusick (@IanMCusick)
  • Eric Jensen (@eric18utah)
  • Alex Levin (@TubaDeus)
  • Alex (@ProSportsFandom)
  • Brian Willis (@RealBrianWillis)
  • Tim (@ObstructedView2)

And before we start, I’m going to remind you of the format used in the pick’em. Each week of the season, the crew will pick every NFL games and we will publish our picks on Pro Sports Fandom. At the conclusion of the week, we will calculate the results and update our standings. At the end of the season, the picker with the best overall record will be crowned as the PSF NFL Pick’em Champion. Here’s the updated standings through six weeks of action!

STANDINGS:

1. Tristan Beckmann (76-44)

2. Brian Willis (75-45)

3. Ian Cusick (73-47)

T4. Obstructed Viewer (72-48)

T4. Alex Levin (72-48)

6. Chris Chastain (71-49)

7. Pro Sports Fandom (65-45)

8. Eric Jensen (62-58)

Let’s start off with the game picks that everyone agreed on for the week 9 games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Chicago Bears over Buffalo Bills.

Carolina Panthers over Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Minnesota Vikings over Detroit Lions.

Dallas Cowboys over Tennessee Titans.

Now let’s see the game picks that mostly everyone agreed on for the ninth week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Oakland Raiders over San Francisco 49ers. Brian Willis and Obstructed Viewer were the only writers who picked the 49ers to win.

Kansas City Chiefs over Cleveland Browns. Chris Chastain was the only writer who picked the Browns to win.

Miami Dolphins over New York Jets. Eric Jensen and Chris Chastain were the only writers who picked the Jets to win.

Los Angeles Chargers over Seattle Seahawks. Tristan Beckmann was the only writer who picked the Seahawks to win.

Houston Texans over Denver Broncos. Tristan Beckmann was the only writer who picked the Broncos to win.

New England Patriots over Green Bay Packers. Eric Jensen was the only writer who picked the Packers to win.

Now let’s see the game picks that the group had mixed opinions on for week 9’s games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Pittsburgh Steelers over Baltimore Ravens. Alex Levin, Ian Cusick, and Chris Chastain all picked the Ravens to win.

Atlanta Falcons over Washington Redskins. Ian Cusick, Eric Jensen, and Brian Willis all picked the Redskins to win.

The writers split on the Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints. Tristan Beckmann, Alex Levin, Brian Willis, and Obstructed Viewer all picked the Saints to win.

PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em: Week 8 Preview, Predictions, Analysis

Welcome back to the eighth edition of the extravagant PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em. Week 7 was an absolute week full of fun for most of our writers, and they’ll look to continue the stretch run as we head into Week 8 and beyond. We learned a lot in Week 7, including how bad the NFC West is, how great the LA Rams are, and the Chiefs once again showcased their dominance on the national stage with a blowout win against the Bengals. It’s starting to become the norm of this 2018 NFL season.

The PSF NFL pick’em crew is in its second season, with a few new faces, a new indefinite leader, and some of your favorite pickers. Without further ado, let’s meet everyone on the crew. Be sure to check them out on twitter and give everybody a follow. They’re genuinely great people and are worth a follow.

  • Tristan Beckmann (@TBeckmann24)
  • Chris Chastain (@ChrisC_01)
  • Ian Cusick (@IanMCusick)
  • Eric Jensen (@eric18utah)
  • Alex Levin (@TubaDeus)
  • Pro Sports Fandom (@ProSportsFandom)
  • Brian Willis (@RealBrianWillis)
  • Tim (@ObstructedView2)

And before we start, I’m going to remind you of the format used in the pick’em. Each week of the season, the crew will pick every NFL games and we will publish our picks on Pro Sports Fandom. At the conclusion of the week, we will calculate the results and update our standings. At the end of the season, the picker with the best overall record will be crowned as the PSF NFL Pick’em Champion. Here’s the updated standings through six weeks of action!

Standings:

T1. Brian Willis (65-42)

T1. Tristan Beckmann (65-42)

3. Ian Cusick (64-43)

4. Chris Chastain (62-45)

T5. Obstructed Viewer (61-46)

T5. Alex Levin (61-46)

7. Pro Sports Fandom (56-51)

8. Eric Jensen (54-43)

Let’s start off with the game picks that everyone agreed on for the week 8 games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Kansas City Chiefs over Denver Broncos.

Pittsburgh Steelers over Cleveland Browns.

Detroit Lions over Seattle Seahawks.

Indianapolis Colts over Oakland Raiders.

Los Angeles Rams over Green Bay Packers.

New England Patriots over Buffalo Bills.

Now let’s see the game picks that mostly everyone agreed on for the eighth week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Houston Texans over Miami Dolphins. Eric Jensen was the only writer who picked the Dolphins to win.

Philadelphia Eagles over Jacksonville Jaguars. Ian Cusick was the only writer who picked the Jaguars to win.

Washington Redskins over New York Giants. Tristan Beckmann and Pro Sports Fandom were the only writers who picked the Giants to win.

Cincinnati Bengals over Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brian Willis and Chris Chastain were the only writers who picked the Buccaneers to win.

Chicago Bears over New York Jets. Eric Jensen was the only writer who picked the Jets to win.

New Orleans Saints over Minnesota Vikings. Obstructed Viewer and Pro Sports Fandom were the only writers who picked the Vikings to win.

Now let’s see the game picks that the group had mixed opinions on for week 8’s games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

The writers split on the Baltimore Ravens @ Carolina Panthers. Tristan Beckmann, Eric Jensen, Obstructed Viewer, and Pro Sports Fandom all picked the Panthers to win. Alex Levin, Chris Chastain, Brian Willis, and Ian Cusick all picked the Ravens to win.

The writers split on the San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals. Tristan Beckmann, Alex Levin, Brian Willis, and Obstructed Viewer all picked the Cardinals to win. Eric Jensen, Pro Sports Fandom, Ian Cusick, and Chris Chastain all picked the 49ers to win.

PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em: Week 3 Preview, Predictions, and Analysis

Welcome back to the third edition of the PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em. Week 2 was filled with surprises and teams that shocked us. It was not the prettiest week for our pick’em staff. But that’s okay because Week 3 is where everybody will bounce back, hopefully! Ryan Fitzpatrick is the biggest story in football right now alongside Patrick Mahomes II, whom both are playing incredible football as the quarterbacks of their respective squads. We learned a lot about many teams, but as this season goes on, we will continue to learn more. Week 3 is upon us, and the fans are pumped. This is undoubtedly the greatest time of the year!

The PSF NFL pick’em crew is returning for its second season, with a few new faces, a new indefinite leader, and some of your favorite pickers. Without further ado, let’s meet everyone on the crew. Be sure to check them out on twitter and give everybody a follow. They’re genuinely great people and are worth a follow.

  • Tristan Beckmann (@TBeckmann24)
  •  Chris Chastain (@ChrisC_01)
  •  Ian Cusick (@IanMCusick)
  •  Eric Jensen (@eric18utah)
  •  Heath Kyser (@RollCubsRoll)
  •  Alex Levin (@TubaDeus)
  •  Alex Mueller (@ProSportsFandom)
  •  Brian Willis (@RealBrianWillis)
  •  Tim (@ObstructedView2)

And before we start, I’m going to remind you of the format used in the pick’em. Each week of the season, the crew will pick every NFL games and we will publish our picks on Pro Sports Fandom. At the conclusion of the week, we will calculate the results and update our standings. At the end of the season, the picker with the best overall record will be crowned as the PSF NFL Pick’em Champion. Here’s the updated standings through two weeks of action!

Standings:

T1. Chris Chastain (20-12)

T1. Alex Mueller (20-12)

3. Tristan Beckmann (18-14)

T4. Brian Willis (17-15)

T4. Alex Levin (17-15)

T4. Ian Cusick (17-15)

T6. Heath Kyser (16-16)

T6. Eric Jensen (16-16)

T6. Tim (16-16)

Let’s start off with the game picks that everyone agreed on for the third week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Green Bay Packers over Washington Redskins.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, GB -3.0)

Minnesota Vikings over Buffalo Bills.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, MIN -16.5)

Jacksonville Jaguars over Tennessee Titans.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, JAX -1.0)

Kansas City Chiefs over San Francisco 49ers.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, KC -6.5)

Los Angeles Rams over Los Angeles Chargers.

(Sun. 9/23, 4:05 p.m. EST, CBS, LAR -7.0)

Chicago Bears over Arizona Cardinals.

(Sun. 9/23, 4:25 p.m. EST, FOX, CHI -5.5)

New England Patriots over Detroit Lions.

(Sun. 9/23, 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC, NE -7.0)

Now let’s see the game picks that mostly everyone agreed on for the third week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Cleveland Browns over New York Jets. Eric Jensen was the only writer who picked the New York Jets to win.

(Thu. 9/20, 8:20 p.m. EST, NFLN, CLE -3.0)

Philadelphia Eagles over Indianapolis Colts. Eric Jensen was the only writer who picked the Indianapolis Colts to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, PHI -6.5)

Miami Dolphins over Oakland Raiders. Tristan Beckmann was the only writer who picked the Oakland Raiders to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, MIA -3.0)

Houston Texans over New York Giants. Chris Chastain and Brian Willis were the only writers who picked the New York Giants to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, HOU -6.0)

Dallas Cowboys over Seattle Seahawks. Brian Willis was the only writer who picked the Seattle Seahawks to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 4:25 p.m. EST, FOX, SEA -1.5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Pittsburgh Steelers. Tristan Beckmann was the only writer who picked the Pittsburgh Steelers to win.

(Mon. 9/24, 8:15 p.m. EST, ESPN, PIT -1.5)

Now let’s see the game picks that everyone has mixed views on for the third week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons. Tristan Beckmann, Alex Levin, and Obstructed Viewer were the writers who picked the Atlanta Falcons to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, ATL -3.0)

Baltimore Ravens over Denver Broncos. Tristan Beckmann, Eric Jensen, and Chris Chastain were the writers who picked the Denver Broncos to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, BAL -5.5)

Cincinnati Bengals over Carolina Panthers. Tristan Beckmann, Ian Cusick, and Obstructed Viewer were the writers who picked the Carolina Panthers to win.

(Sun. 9/23, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, CAR -3.0)

PSF NFL Weekly Pick’em: Week 2 Preview, Predictions, and Analysis

Week 1 was an absolute slugfest and we couldn’t be happier that NFL football is finally back in full storm. We witnessed upsets such as the Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the Buccaneers to a massive, high-scoring road win against the Saints. We saw James Conner and Tyreek Hill start off their season at full speed with terrific games. We learned a lot about many teams, but as this season goes on, we will continue to learn more. Week 2 is upon us, and the fans are pumped. This is the greatest time of year!

The PSF NFL pick’em crew is returning for its second season, with a few new faces, a new indefinite leader, and some of your favorite pickers. Without further ado, let’s meet everyone on the crew. Be sure to check them out on twitter and give everybody a follow. They’re genuinely great people and are worth a follow.

Tristan Beckmann (@TBeckmann24)

▪ Chris Chastain (@ChrisC_01)

▪ Ian Cusick (@IanMCusick)

▪ Eric Jensen (@eric18utah)

▪ Heath Kyser (@RollCubsRoll)

▪ Alex Levin (@TubaDeus)

▪ Alex (@ProSportsFandom)

▪ Brian Willis (@RealBrianWillis)

▪ Tim (@ObstructedView2)

And before we start, I’m going to remind you of the format used in the pick’em. Each week of the season, the crew will pick every NFL games and we will publish our picks on Pro Sports Fandom. At the conclusion of the week, we will calculate the results and update our standings. At the end of the season, the picker with the best overall record will be crowned as the PSF NFL Pick’em Champion. Here’s the updated standings through one week of action!

Standings:

T1. Alex Levin (10-6)

T1. Chris Chastain (10-6)

T1. PSF (10-6)

T4. Brian Willis (9-7)

T4. Ian Cusick (9-7)

T6. Tristan Beckmann (8-8)

T6. Heath Kyser (8-8)

T6. Eric Jensen (8-8)

9. Obstructed Viewer (7-9)

Let’s start off with the two game picks that everyone agreed on for the second week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Philadelphia Eagles over Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, PHI -3.5)

Los Angeles Rams over Arizona Cardinals.

(Sun. 9/16, 4:05 p.m. EST, FOX, LAR -13.0)

Now let’s see the game picks that mostly everyone agreed on for the second week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Washington Redskins over Indianapolis Colts. Ian Cusick was the only writer who picked the Colts to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, WSH -6.0)

Houston Texans over Tennessee Titans. Obstructed Viewer and Pro Sports Fandom were the only writers who picked the Titans to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, HOU -1.5)

Pittsburgh Steelers over Kansas City Chiefs. Eric Jensen and Heath Kyser were the only writers who picked the Chiefs to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, PIT -4.5)

New York Jets over Miami Dolphins. Brian Willis and Chris Chastain were the only writers who picked the Dolphins to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, NYJ -2.5)

Los Angeles Chargers over Buffalo Bills. Heath Kyser was the only writer who picked the Bills to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS, LAC -7.5)

New Orleans Saints over Cleveland Browns. Brian Willis was the only writer who picked the Browns to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, NO -8.5)

San Francisco 49ers over Detroit Lions. Alex Levin and Eric Jensen were the only writers who picked the Lions to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 4:05 p.m. EST, FOX, SF -6.0)

Denver Broncos over Oakland Raiders. Ian Cusick and Chris Chastain were the only writers who picked the Raiders to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS, DEN -6.0)

New York Giants over Dallas Cowboys. Chris Chastain was the only writer who picked the Cowboys to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 8:20 p.m. EST, NBC, DAL -3.0)

Chicago Bears over Seattle Seahawks. Brian Willis was the only writer who picked the Seahawks to win.

(Mon. 9/17, 8:15 p.m. EST, ESPN, CHI -3.5)

Now let’s see the game picks that everyone has mixed views on for the second week of games. (The predicted winners are noted in bold.)

Baltimore Ravens over Cincinnati Bengals. Tristan Beckmann, Eric Jensen, and Heath Kyser all picked the Bengals to win.

(Thu. 9/13, 8:20 p.m. EST, NFLN, BAL -1.0)

Atlanta Falcons over Carolina Panthers. Eric Jensen, Heath Kyser, and Obstructed Viewer all picked the Panthers to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, ATL -6.0)

Minnesota Vikings over Green Bay Packers. Tristan Beckmann, Alex Levin, Brian Willis, and Obstructed Viewer all picked the Packers to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 1:00 p.m. EST, FOX, GB -1.0)

Jacksonville Jaguars over New England Patriots. Alex Levin, Ian Cusick, and Heath Kyser all picked the Patriots to win.

(Sun. 9/16, 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS, JAX -1.0)

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed! Feel free to share your thoughts and concerns with us on Twitter! Share with your friends and family too! Peace!

The 9th Inning: Are The Rays the most underrated team in baseball?

Welcome to the 9th Inning. This is a weekly column every Sunday on Pro Sports Fandom in which I roundup the week’s biggest happenings in the baseball realm. I give my personal thoughts on a few events as well as tell you what to look forward to in the following week. I also give out weekly awards for team of the week and player of the week. It’s basically a baseball podcast squeezed into an article that will happen every week. I was unable to publish the column last Sunday due to a busy schedule but it returns today.

This is the third article of this column and I hope for some immense success with it each week. If you’d like, be sure to share with your friends, social media, and family! I’d love my column to reach as big a global market as possible. Let’s dive right into it.

The AL East is not over just yet

Last week, if you would’ve asked me whether I thought the AL East was a locked up race yet, I would’ve said it’s close to it. It’s amazing how in one week of baseball, things can change in a heartbeat. The Red Sox have hit a wall, are in danger of being swept by the Rays today, and neither Chris Sale nor Eduardo Rodriguez have come off the DL yet. Now Red Sox fans should obviously not panic, as I don’t think there’s anyway this team misses the postseason and it will take an elongated hot streak by the Yankees to get them closer to the Sox. The Red Sox are still the best team in baseball but they cannot afford to slump now, especially this late in the year. Mookie Betts is in a slump and he hasn’t really done that all year, he’s hitting 5 for 33 (.152 average) in his past eight games. Red Sox fans should however stop saying that the AL East is over, because the Yankees are only seven games out, six in the loss column, and the rivals still play six more times in the regular season.

The Athletics are a true contender and are challenging Houston for AL West supremacy

I never saw it coming. Not once. Who would’ve thought that the Oakland Athletics would be a game and a half back of the Houston Astros in the AL West in late August? If you did, you’re a lucky person. The Athletics are baseball’s best story and they are grinding everyday to try to potentially win the division but also be sure to lock up a spot in the postseason. The Athletics aren’t a pretender, and they have the team to compete in October. The schedule gets extremely tough from here on out and we will learn a lot about the A’s in September.

The most underrated team in baseball

What if I told you that the most underrated team in baseball was going to miss the playoffs and is soon bound to be eliminated from division contention? Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays are the most slept-on team in the major leagues. They’re overshadowed by the Yankees and Red Sox in the tough as nails AL East, but they’re a winning baseball team and are not talked about nearly enough as they should be. Blake Snell is a top of the line ace in the big leagues and could very well be the AL Cy Young this season. Tommy Pham has been a solid addition from the trade deadline for the Rays. Their opener experiment has turned their pitching staff into one of the overall best in baseball. They are no joke and can compete with the best of the best on any given night. They’ve gone 8-7 against the Yankees this season, and beaten the Red Sox six times this season. They would be in the midst of the playoff race if they were in any other division.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?

Hot:

The Tampa Bay Rays (8-2 in Last Ten)

The Chicago Cubs (7-3 in Last Ten)

The New York Yankees (7-3 in Last Ten)

The Colorado Rockies (7-3 in Last Ten)

Not:

The San Francisco Giants (3-7 in Last Ten)

The Pittsburgh Pirates (3-7 in Last Ten)

The Philadelphia Phillies (3-7 in Last Ten)

The Los Angeles Angels (3-7 in Last Ten)

The Boston Red Sox (4-6 in Last Ten)

Power Rankings:

1. Boston Red Sox (90-41)

2. New York Yankees (82-47)

3. Houston Astros (79-50)

4. Oakland Athletics (78-52)

5. Chicago Cubs (75-53)

6. Los Angeles Dodgers (69-61)

7. Colorado Rockies (71-58)

8. Arizona Diamondbacks (71-58)

9. Cleveland Indians (73-56)

10. Atlanta Braves (72-57)

11. Seattle Mariners (74-56)

12. St. Louis Cardinals (72-58)

13. Milwaukee Brewers (72-59)

14. Philadelphia Phillies (69-60)

15. Tampa Bay Rays (69-61)

16. Pittsburgh Pirates (64-66)

17. San Francisco Giants (64-67)

18. Washington Nationals (64-66)

19. Toronto Blue Jays (60-69)

20. Los Angeles Angels (63-67)

21. Minnesota Twins (61-68)

22. Texas Rangers (58-73)

23. New York Mets (58-71)

24. Cincinnati Reds (56-74)

25. Chicago White Sox (50-79)

26. Detroit Tigers (53-77)

27. Miami Marlins (53-78)

28. San Diego Padres (50-82)

29. Kansas City Royals (40-90)

30. Baltimore Orioles (37-93)

The Weekly Awards:

The Team of the Week is the …

Tampa Bay Rays (7-0 record)

The Rays started off the week last Sunday with a road shutout win over the Red Sox to salvage a game in an already-lost series. They then returned to the dump that is Tropicana Field (sorry, Rays fans, I’m just being honest) and swept the Kansas City Royals in four games. After the Royals left, the Red Sox came to the Trop and the Rays gave the Red Sox a rare series loss over the weekend, winning the first two games of the series to extend their winning streak to seven. The Rays will go for a rare sweep of the Red Sox today at 1:10 pm with dominating ace Blake Snell on the mound. What a week for them!

The Hitter of the Week is …

Toronto Blue Jays DH/1B Kendrys Morales

The veteran slugger was firing on all cylinders during this past week and he certainly deserves this recognition. Heading into today’s game against the Phillies, Morales has homered in six straight games, which is tied with two other players for the longest streak in the 2018 MLB season. Over the past week, Morales made 24 plate appearances in six games, hitting seven home runs, scoring eight runs, and batting in 11 RBIs while putting up a .500 batting average. He totaled a 0.9 WAR this week, which was best amongst big league hitters. Way to go Kendrys!

The Pitcher of the Week is …

New York Yankees RHP Sonny Gray

You might be a little intrigued by seeing Gray’s name on here as Pitcher of the Week, considering he’s struggled all season long and enough to the point where he’s now a bullpen long man and spot starter in the Bronx. But Gray had a phenomenal week and looks to be gaining more comfort in his new role. Last Sunday against the Blue Jays, Gray entered out of the bullpen and pitched two scoreless frames for the Yankees, giving up two hits, walking one batter and recording one strikeout. Yesterday in the second game of the Yankees doubleheader against the Orioles, Gray shined in his first start since he got rocked by the Orioles on August 1st. He tossed six and a thirds worth of scoreless baseball on the mound, surrendering three hits, walking one, and striking out seven batters. Gray, now widely known as “Pickles”, secured the win and a sweep of the day for the Yanks!

What to Look Forward To:

There is a lot of exciting baseball to look forward to heading into the final week of August. Firstly, September Call-Ups will begin on Saturday and we will get a glimpse of the future for a ton of teams. To start the week, we get to see the Oakland Athletics travel to MinuteMaid Park to take on the Houston Astros in a three game series that will be pivotal towards the AL West standings. We also will get to see the Pittsburgh Pirates head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in what could be a ride-or-die series for the Pirates in terms of what they will be able to do in the NL Wildcard race. The Tampa Bay Rays will look to continue their hot stretch when they head to Atlanta to face the Braves, which will be a very exciting series to watch.

Starting off the weekend series on Thursday will be potential playoff battles such as the Mariners @ Athletics, Diamondbacks @ Dodgers, and the Cubs @ Braves in a rainout makeup game. After their makeup game, the Cubs will head to face the Phillies in Philadelphia in another potential playoff matchup preview. We have an exciting slate of games all week long in the major leagues!

Thanks for reading the third edition of the 9th Inning column! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to share with your friends, family, and on social media! Feel free to contact me on my Twitter @TBeckmann24 if you have any questions! I’ll be back next time! Peace!

Tristan Beckmann’s Ultimate 2018 NFL Season Preview: Predicting the Standings, Playoffs, and Awards for the Upcoming Season

We are getting closer to the time of year where families and friends gather around the television on Sunday afternoons to watch true NFL football. It’s one of the best times of year and each year everybody is making their predictions to try to luckily guess the Super Bowl or what not. I’ve decided to follow suit but I’ve gone a little bolder with some of my predictions, and I will say that some of my picks may shock you. Fantasy Football Drafting has commenced and the football fever is ready to be in full swing. And just remember if you disagree with any of my predictions, these are just predictions and I’m not assuring that any of these will actually happen. The Pro Sport’s Fandom’s site-wide NFL Preview will release in the first week of September, but this is just a sneak peek of what’s to come there.

Feel free to contact me on Twitter @TBeckmann24 with any questions you may have about the NFL, MLB, NBA, Golf, or College Football/Basketball. I’ll try my best to answer every question I see. For these predictions, I used the Playoff Predictor site and I highly recommend using this site even if you just want to predict the entire NFL season for fun or to waste time. I’ll also be releasing a lot of content for the college football landscape once that season starts up, which will include a ton of way too early mock drafts and rankings. This preview is split up into three sections (standings, playoffs, awards), and I go in-depth at times. I will be releasing a midseason update preview and it will definitely go way more in-depth as we will know more about the league at that point of the season.