David Price is pitching sensationally. Sonny Gray had a spectacular start @ the Orioles on Saturday Night. Mike Minor and Walker Buehler are cookin on the hill. Dansby is on fire with the Bravos. Tony Kemp is playing excellently for the Astros and Curt Casali is performing exceptionally well when called upon by the Cincinnati Reds.
Our NFL guys are impressive in the preseason. Will take a look at each guy.
And our Vanderbilt Commodore football team opens the season Saturday Night at 6:30 PM CT @ Vanderbilt Stadium versus a dangerous Middle Tennessee squad that won its bowl game last season and finished 7-6 and will be ready to knock us off.
David just pitched a 3 hit shutout over 8 innings against the Cleveland Indians last Thursday afternoon at Fenway. The BoSox had lost the first 2 against the Indians then won Wednesday and David was firing darts on Thursday in a 7-0 Red Sox victory. David didn't walk anybody, hit 1 batter and struck out 6. He threw 101 pitches with 68 for strikes against 33 balls. He was nothing short of spectacular, as he has been in his last 7 starts. He's won 5 of them and had a no decision in the other 2, but pitched well in both and the Sox won both games one of them over the Yankees, 5-4, in which he exorcised his Yankees nightmare out of his system. They have caused David problems since he's been with the BoSox, but against them on Sunday, August 5th, David went 6, giving up 4 hits, 2 runs with 3 walks and 5 Ks. He hung tough against one of the most potent lineups in baseball, top 3 along with the BoSox and Astros. David is using a lot of off speed. His 85-86 change up is cookin. He did use his fastball more on Thursday against the Tribe, hitting 93-94 consistently. David has won 5 straight, he's 14-6 with a 3.50 ERA and posts a very impressive 1.15 WHIP, walks plus hits per inning pitched. His ERA in his 6 starts since the All Star break has been 1.09, which is best in the majors. Great stuff coming out of DP.
With No.1 starter Chris Sale out with an injury, David is carrying a heavier load. He and Sale are really 1A and 1B and they're interchangeable. David likes being the unquestioned Number 1 guy. He thrives on that. Sale looks like he's out till mid September, so the Sox will be relying heavily on David's talent and leadership. That's what he likes. He's a total team guy. David is on the hill again Wednesday vs Trevor Richards of the Miami Marlins at Fenway for a 5:35 PM CT start and broadcast by ESPN+ on the computer. Richards is 3-7 with a 4.32 ERA. David has been excellent with his control. He rarely walks batters. He has 41 walks on the season against 149 strikeouts. The Sox got swept over the weekend by the Rays in Tampa, so they need to rebound against the Marlins. The series starts tomorrow night. The Sox are 90-42, .682 ball, and only 6 games ahead of the Yankees, who I also pull for as Sonny is back in the rotation, possibly at some time again. The Sox were 9 1/2 last Thursday after their victory over the Indians, but the Yanks are studs and aren't going away, so the Sox need to turn it around starting tomorrow night. The Rays are an extremely impressive team. Outside the Oakland A's, they're the best story in baseball this year. They are 70-61, 19 1/2 back of the Sox, but just 9 back of the second place A's in the wild card with a full month of baseball to go. So a lot can happen and this impressively, super frugal team is making real noise. The A's are a spectacular story, too. They are 79-52 and just a game and half behind the Astros in the AL West. They are in 2nd in the wild card, 4 1/2 games behind the Yankees and a full 5 games up on the 3rd place Seattle Mariners in the wild card standings. The A's and the Rays have the lowest team salaries in baseball so that just speaks to what super leadership they have in their organization from the general manager to the on field manager along with some very hungry, hard working players, who have talent. You have to have talent to play in the big leagues. It's really special what these 2 teams are doing and good for baseball that the small market teams can compete with excellent leadership and ambitious players.
Sonny had a stellar spot start for the Yankees Saturday Night against the Orioles in a 5-1 victory. Sonny went 6.1 innings, he gave up only 3 hits, 0 runs, with 1 walk and 7 K's. It was his first start since August 1st against the Orioles. He had been struggling as a starter, mainly at Yankee Stadium, but he was awesome at Camden Yards Saturday Night. Sonny threw 79 pitches with 48 of them for strikes against 31 balls. His fastball was hitting 94, and his curve and slider were terrific. He struck out several Oriole batters on his curve, hitting 81-82 and just disappearing under their bats. His slider, hitting about 84-85, had the same effect. It was a sensational performance by Sonny. He moved to 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA on the season, and that was a huge momentum builder for him. I was looking at the Yankee starting rotation this week and it looks like Lance Lynn, the starter for the Yankees Tuesday Night, has been struggling, so maybe that's an opening for Sonny if Lynn keeps struggling. He has a 4.84 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP with an 8-9 record. In his last 2 starts he's given up 5 earned runs in 4 and 5.1 innings respectively against the Toronto the Miami Marlins. So there's a chance for Sonny to get back into the rotation if Lynn continues to struggle. Sorry to pull against the guy, but Sonny is a big league starter and a potential number 1 guy and he's our guy, so I'm pulling for him to get another shot. For right now, Sonny will pitch out of the bullpen and get spot starts. Hopefully, in time, Sonny will be back in the rotation. Saturday Night was super impressive. I know Yankees manager Aaron Boone thought so.
Mike continues to put up stellar start after stellar start for the Texas Rangers. In his most recent outing against the powerhouse Oakland A's, Mike pitched 6 innings, gave up 1 hit, with 1 walk and 4 K's. The Rangers defeated the A's, 4-2. Mike has now won 4 in a row and his record is 10-6 with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP, which is an excellent WHIP. Mike has only walked 28 and struck out 104. His fastball is hitting 95 and his curve and slider are extremely sharp. Mike said after the A's game that he wants to get better with his curve, so he's always trying to improve. He threw 73 pitches with 50 for strikes against 23 balls, outstanding. Mike missed his start before last Wednesday with back stiffness, so Rangers manager Jeff Banister is being careful with him which he should be. The Rangers are 58-74, so they're out of it with 30 games left, but they've got a really exciting young team that has a bright future, so Banister wants to preserve Mike for the rest of this season and what could be a greatly improved 2019 team with a chance to make it into October.
Mike's next start is Wednesday against the LA Dodgers at 7:05 PM CT from Globe Life Park in Arlington. He'll face the great Alex Wood of the Dodgers (7-6, 3.60, 33 walks 117 K's, 1.19 WHIP). Mike is on fire right now.
Walker just keeps excelling for the Dodgers with his recent outing, while a loss, impressive. Walker went 7 against the Cardinals, giving up only 3 hits, 0 runs, with 2 walks and 9 K's. Walker threw 104 pitches with 71 for strikes against 33 balls, which is terrific. Walker regularly hits 96-97 and can get to 98-99. I've even seen him hit 100, and his curve has that great dropping ability like Sonny's and Mike's. Walker is 6-4 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. The Dodgers are 70-61 and 2 1/2 back of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Colorado Rockies are 71-59 and 1 back of the 72-59 Dbacks. It's quite a race going on in the NL West. The Dodgers are 2 1/2 back of Milwaukee and 3 back of St. Louis in the wild card, so September should be spectacular in the NL. Colorado is 1 back in the wild card, Philly is 2 back, so it's going to be a horserace with a photo finish on Sept. 30th, the final day of the regular season. The Dodgers are used to October baseball, so they are going to be locked and loaded starting right now. They finished off a sweep of the Padres over the weekend with a 7-3 victory yesterday at Dodger Stadium. Walker pitches again tomorrow @Texas, a 7:05 PM CT start. He'll square off against Ariel Jurado of the Rangers (2-3, 6.40 ERA).
Dansby has been really performing for the Atlanta Braves lately. In his last 7 games, Dans is hitting .300 with 3 homers and 5 Ribeyes. He now is hitting .244 for the season with 13 homers and 53 RBIs, 22 doubles and 3 triples with 6 stolen bases in 9 attempts. Dans can be a 20 homer, 85 RBI, .285 hitter and 25+ stolen base player. He has that in him. Ready to see him explode going forward. His defense has been spectacular lately, too. The Braves are still in first place in the NL East at 73-57, 3 games ahead of the 70-60 Phillies and 8 1/2 clear of the struggling Nationals. This Braves team is for real to me now. They are heading into September maybe in first place if they have a good week this week. They host the red hot Rays Tuesday and Wednesday after a day off today, and then the first place Cubs of the NL Central (76-53) come to Suntrust Park for a 4 game set beginning Thursday Night at 6:35 CT. So a major test for the Bravos this week. This is awesome for Dans to be in the heat of a division race in late August. He's stepping it up in a big way.
Tony has gotten a ton of playing time for the Astros with starting center fielder George Springer out. He struggled yesterday at the plate, but was 3 for 4 on Thursday Night in a 10-7 Stros victory over Seattle. Tony is playing mainly center field right now. His fielding is terrific. In 73 games, he's hitting .279 with 5 homers and 26 RBI's, 12 doubles and 8 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Good stuff from T Kemp.
When called upon, Curt has been outstanding. Saturday Night against the Cubs in a 10-6 Reds loss, Curt was 2 for 3 with a homer, a 3 run shot, and an RBI double. He played catcher Saturday Night. Yesterday, he was 0 for 3, playing 1st base, but he's hitting .322 in 36 games with 4 homers and 15 RBIs. Curt has added 7 doubles. The Reds are a team, like the Rangers, who are out of it, but have a bright future. I expect Curt to be a part of that future. He's been excelling when called upon.
NFL guys in the preseason
Casey Hayward and Zach Cunningham are established starters for the LA Chargers and the Houston Texans, respectively. I expect big years from both studs. Andre Hal has been coming to preseason games at home for the Texans and appears to be doing better. Andre was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in June which was heartbreaking, but he has the attitude of a champion as you would expect from a Vanderbilt football player, and he's a superb young guy who is battling this and wants to be cancer free and resume his playing career again. He has been the starting free safety for the Texans and a trusted member of their team. I've been saying my prayers for the man frequently and fully expect Andre to recover and even play football again. He's a really strong faithful young man who has a ton of courage and fortitude, so I expect nothing less than Andre being a starting safety for the Houston Texans in the next year or 2. They love him on the Texans. All of the guys and Coach Bill O'Brien are highly complimentary of Andre, and the whole organization is with Andre the whole way. He's superb.
Oren Burks has played spectacularly well for the Green Bay Packers in the preseason. Oren had 6 tackles in each of the Packers first 2 games this preseason before suffering a shoulder injury Friday in pregame warmups @ the Oakland Raiders. But Oren is expected to be back for the regular season opener against the Bears @ Lambeau Field in Green Bay on Sunday Night Football at 7:30 PM on NBC, September 9th. He will start if he's ready and has been super impressive in the preseason. Very proud of Oren. Super young guy.
Stephen Weatherly is a valuable defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings and should see a lot of playing time for them this season. Jonathan Wynn is also competing for a job for the Vikings and has a shot to make the team.
Caleb Scott caught 2 passes for 69 yards for the Seattle Seahawks in their game Friday Night at Minnesota. Great night for Caleb. He has a good shot of making the team.
Don't want to forget the great Ralph Webb, who was sensational in the New England Patriots opener against the Washington Redskins rushing for 46 yards and 2 touchdowns and catching a 2 point conversion. Ralph was awesome in that game. He hasn't gotten as many chances in the last 2 games and the Patriots backfield is crowded, but he's got another shot Thursday Night @ the Giants. Adam Butler is entrenched on the Patriots defense at defensive tackle. He'll be on the team. Belichick likes him. Hoping Ralph will join him. If not, Ralph should get on some team with his work ethic and talent.
Tough news for Jordan Matthews. JMatt suffered what was called a severe hamstring injury and was released by the Patriots. Jordan is only 26 though and can work hard this year, maybe help our college team some, and get back on a team and be an established player in the NFL once again.
Trent Sherfield had a super game for the Arizona Cardinals last night in a victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Trent recovered a fumbled Dallas punt return in the end zone for a TD and caught a pass for 7 yards. Trent's got a shot to make the team. C.J. Duncan is also battling for a spot on the Zona roster. They will both get an opportunity Thursday at 9 PM on NFL Network versus the Denver Broncos. The season opener is Thursday, September 6th with the Atlanta Falcons visiting the world champion Philadelphia Eagles at 7:20 PM CT on NBC.
I would be remiss to not mention our o linemen in the NFL. Spencer Pulley is the starting center for the LA Chargers, Wesley Johnson is the backup center for the Detroit Lions and Will Holden is a backup tackle for the Arizona Cardinals. All 3 should make their respective teams.
Our football team opens the season at home Saturday Night versus the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, which finished 7-6 last year including a 35-30 victory in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl over Arkansas State. The game is at 6:30 PM CT on SEC Network Alternate Channel or Watch ESPN. We defeated Middle Tennessee last year and the year before that, but they've beaten us before and they have veteran quarterback, Brent Stockstill, returning. Stockstill, MTSU head Coach Rick Stockstill's son, completed 138 of 239 passes last season (58%) for 1,672 yards, 16 TDs and 8 interceptions. Those aren't eye popping numbers, but he's got a ton of weapons to throw to and hand off to. This team is dangerous.
Kyle Shurmur returns for his senior season after completing 220-of-380 passes (58%) for 2,823 yards, 26 TDs and 10 ints. Everybody has high hopes for the team with Kyle under center. We need to play better defense this season. Our linebackers have to tackle better in space and we've got to be tougher up front. I like our talent everywhere on defense. Cornerback Joejuan Williams is primed for a massive season, and I like linebackers Jordan Griffin, Josh Smith, Charles Wright and Caleb Peart very much. Donovan Sheffield should be an excellent compliment to Joejuan at the opposite corner and LaDarius Wiley will be a superb safety and I like Zaire Jones playing alongside him. We seem to have more depth up front and Dare and Dayo Odeyingbo should be terrific. But we'll need depth to step up on defense. I like a lot of players on that side of the ball though.
On offense the line is loaded led by left tackle Justin Skule and canter Bruno Reagan. We've got good depth up front and very good starters. Running back looks excellent with Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Khari Blasingame leading the way. That's another position of strength for us along with the o line and quarterback. Wide receiver will be led by the awesome Kalija Lipscomb, who caught 37 passes for 610 yards and 8 TDs last season. I'm expecting another huge season from Kalija. Some other guys will have to step up out wide, even freshmen like Cam Johnson and C.J. Bolar, both of whom have had awesome preseasons. Guys like Alex Stump, Chris Pierce and Donaven Tennyson will need to be playmakers for us also. All are talented. At tight end, Jalen Pinkney has had an awesome camp, and Sam Dobbs is also exceptional. Freshman Gavin Schoenwald will also get some valuable playing time. We'll need another player or 2 to step up there. Unfortunately, freshman Ben Bresnahan is out for a while with an injury. But Ben's got good talent and size and will be back at some point, hopefully this season.
Some other freshmen who have been turning heads are inside linebacker Alston Orji and wide receiver Amir Abdur-Rahman. Heard good things about both guys. Alston was a 5.9 4 star and should see significant time this season. He's ready. Amir might too. He was spectacular on his film in high school.
With Deuce Wallace suspended for the season for unspecified reasons, the backup QB is Syracuse transfer Mo Hasan, who has looked good in the preseason. Freshman Allan Walters has a ton of talent, too, so he can help us this season, if necessary, but hoping Kyle can handle it and Mo can come in late in games that we've won for experience. Deuce is expected to be back on the team next year, so he'll be battling it out with those 2 guys for the starting job next season.
We're a 3 point favorite over Middle Tennessee after starting out as a 6 point favorite. It's a toss up game and a very important one for us It'll set the tone for the season. We'll have to be ready come Saturday at 6:30 PM CT on SEC Alternate Network or Watch ESPN. We are certainly capable. They're good though. We need to be locked in.