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Aaron Judge got Yankees this far; how far can they take him?


Aaron Judge’s home-run-record chase has only focused a good brighter highlight on his Yankees teammates.

Yes, he’s gotten his fair proportion of fine pitches to hit, but it surely’s turn out to be clear pitchers are largely staying away from Judge and pitching around him if not intentionally walking him.

In consequence, Judge’s home-run pace slowed as he patiently stalked Roger Maris’ American League — and the untainted-by-steroids — single-season home run record. He had hit only one home run in his past 13 games before leading off Tuesday’s doubleheader nightcap against the Rangers with home run No. 62. He walked 19 times in that span, nevertheless, as opposing pitchers continually decided to wrangle with the Yankees’ other hitters.

Because the Yankees enter the playoffs, that may only turn out to be more commonplace, as runs come at much more of a premium.

After Judge, who recently has been hitting within the leadoff spot, Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ Lemahieu play the most important roles. They each carry worries with them into the playoffs, nevertheless.

Rizzo has struggled to get back to his first-half form after a back injury and subsequent epidural-induced headaches forced him to the IL. In his past 10 games entering Tuesday, Rizzo slashed just .205/.311/.644 with a .644 OPS. In the primary half of the season, Rizzo owned an .842 OPS, providing much-needed cover behind Judge within the batting order. That protection has dissipated with Rizzo’s continued struggles, which continued with an 0-for-3 performance in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Anthony Rizzo’s recent struggles on the plate haven’t given Aaron Judge many good pitches to hit of late.Getty Images

The Yankees are banking on the monster version of Stanton again showing up within the playoffs. He homered in back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday, perhaps finally breaking out of a brutal slump that has plagued him since he returned from an Achilles injury. Within the previous 27 games, Stanton had hit .140 with 4 home runs, 42 strikeouts, 12 walks and a .502 OPS. Stanton historically has been a force within the postseason: In 18 profession playoff games, he owns a 1.108 OPS with nine home runs.

LeMahieu also has struggled since getting back from the injured list, and he’s admitted his toe issue won’t be one hundred pc the remaining of the way in which. At his best, LeMahieu is an on-base machine and keeps the lineup turning over around Judge. Though he was 2-for-9 with a walk in his first three games back since getting back from the IL, he showed some signs of shaking off the rust with a 2-for-3 performance (with a walk) in Texas Tuesday night.

Judge’s prolonged chase for the house run record — and opponents’ increasing avoidance of pitching to him — revealed just how essential the remaining of the Yankees lineup is to their postseason ambitions.

The Yankees won’t go so far as Judge will take them. They’ll go so far as the remaining of their lineup does.

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Catching up on Saturdays

Georgia head coach Kirby Smith gets ready to take his team on the field during a SEC conference game between Georgia Bulldogs and Missouri held on Saturday OCT 01, 2022 at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia MO. Kirby Smart has his defending national champion Georgia team in position to win the national title again.Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The primary five weeks of the faculty football season were revealing.

Recent coaches have attempted to impose their styles on storied programs. Struggling juggernauts have made ruthless decisions. Traditional powers have reaffirmed their stature.

With five weeks within the books and the calendar turning to October and the thick of the conference schedule, let’s take a have a look at the most important storylines dominating college football.

They were who we thought we were

The normal fixtures at the highest of school football have cruised as expected, powered by stars leading the way in which within the Heisman Trophy race.

No. 1 Alabama (5-0) survived a temporary scare against Arkansas after quarterback Bryce Young exited with a shoulder injury, which ranks as their best concern in the intervening time. Young can have to miss games because the Crimson Tide enter probably the most daunting a part of their schedule: vs. Texas A&M, at Tennessee, vs. Mississippi State. If there was ever a moment Alabama — which has redshirt freshman Jalen Milroe as Young’s backup — was vulnerable, it could be straight away. Defending national champion Georgia (5-0) slid to No. 2 within the rankings after a wobbly 26-22 win over unranked Missouri this weekend.

Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws a pass against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half of the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Bryce Young’s shoulder injury has raised some questions on whether Alabama can remain No. 1 as they face their most difficult stretch of the schedule.Getty Images

No. 3 Ohio State (5-0) and No. 4 Michigan (5-0) have dominated from the highest of the Big Ten. Buckeyes star quarterback CJ Stroud has built on his breakout sophomore 12 months with a sensational begin to his junior season, keeping the Ohio State offense humming along. Despite losing Aidan Hutchinson and other players to the NFL, Michigan’s defense has picked up right where it left off last season.

After a disappointing season each personally and for the team, DJ Uiagalelei and Clemson have rebounded in emphatic fashion. A threat each through the air and on the bottom, Uiajalelei is within the Heisman conversation as he starts to live as much as his billing as a five-star recruit.

Jim Leonhard gets his likelihood

Many will call it harsh, skeptical of a comparatively recent athletic director seeking to make his mark on a program. Others will feel it’s long-overdue, the signs having pointed this manner for some time now.

Regardless, the Wisconsin Badgers surprised everyone after they fired head coach Paul Chryst on Monday following the team’s blowout loss to Illinois on Saturday that dropped the team’s record to 2-3. Chryst took a reduced $11 million buyout, per multiple reports.

Wisconsin defensive coach Jim Leonhard looks up at the replay during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin. Michigan defeated Wisconsin 38-17. After devloping one among the nation’s higher defenses at Wisconsin, Jim Leonhard will attempt to rebuild a program that has struggled to maintain pace within the Big Ten.Getty Images

The team now turns to defensive coordinator and beloved alum Jim Leonhard, the long-anticipated successor who now gets his likelihood to earn the job after being named the interim coach for the remaining of the season. A former walk-on turned star safety and punt returner, Leonhard led the nation with 11 interceptions in 2002 as a sophomore and led the Big Ten with 443 punt return yards in 2004 as a senior. After going undrafted, Leonhard played 10 seasons within the NFL with the Bills, Ravens, Jets, Broncos and Browns.

Leonhard raised the Badgers defense — which has struggled this season — to elite levels in his first five seasons as defensive coordinator, overseeing a unit that ranked top five within the nation each in total defense and scoring defense 4 times. It prompted ample job offers elsewhere, but Leonhard waited patiently in Madison seemingly for this very moment. Most notably, he turned down the Packers’ defensive coordinator position this past offseason.

Chryst leaves because the Badgers’ third-winningest coach (67-26 record) and with multiple successful trips to Recent 12 months’s Six bowl games. But this system has taken steps backward the past two seasons, failing to succeed in double-digit wins or to win the Big Ten West division either 12 months. Critically, the Badgers lost to despised rival Minnesota at the tip of last season, and were just embarrassed at home by an Illinois team led by former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. Can’t try this.

The largest job opening within the country

Nebraska’s version of Leonard had his long-awaited opportunity end early within the season. After he helped turn around UCF’s program, Nebraska hired Scott Frost, who starred at quarterback for the Cornhuskers for 2 seasons, to assist awaken one among the game’s sleeping giants. His tenure ended just three games into his fifth season with a disastrous 16-31 record. The ultimate strike was a 45-42 loss at home to Georgia Southern.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost walks off the field after the team's loss to Georgia Southern during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Lincoln, Neb.Lauded as a possible savior when first hired by Nebraska, Scott Frost was fired three games right into a tenure that saw him win only 16 games in lower than five years.AP

Now one among the most important jobs in college football is accessible again. Interim head coach Mickey Joseph has gone 1-1 since taking on and can get consideration, but it is a program likely positioning to rent the most important names that would turn out to be available.

If things don’t work out with on-the-hot-seat Panthers coach Matt Rhule, could he make an enormous move back to varsity? Could Bill O’Brien, Alabama’s offensive coordinator and a former Texans and Penn State head coach, see Nebraska as a way back to the highest? Could Matt Campbell, the fast-rising Iowa State coach, finally make a long-expected move to a higher-profile gig? Does Lance Leipold, Division III UW-Whitewater legend and the present Kansas head coach, see the opening as a career-changer? Could Chryst stay within the Big Ten and take over a rival? Urban Meyer’s name at all times looms. All eyes remain on Nebraska’s head coach opening.

That’s why they play the games

Miami won the offseason, shaking up its athletic department and training staff after years of mediocrity.

They hired Mario Cristobal, a former Hurricanes star lineman who enjoyed success accountable for Oregon, as head coach. He immediately produced a recruiting boom (helped by big-bucks NIL deals), and prompted expectations of a modified culture and a national power restored atop college football’s hierarchy.

Coupled with Cristobal’s arrival, the return of quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who burst on the scene after taking on last season and was projected as a possible 2023 first-round NFL draft pick, made Miami a well-liked pick to complete atop the ACC.

Tyler Van Dyke #9 of the Miami Hurricanes attempts a pass during the first half against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Hard Rock Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Considered a Heisman Trophy hopeful before the season, Tyler Van Dyke has quarterbacked the Hurricanes to a disappointing 2-2 start.Getty Images

Well, it’s thing headlines don’t determine outcomes.

Miami sits at 2-2 with losses to Texas A&M and a shocking 45-31 defeat to Middle Tennessee, whom they paid $1.54 million for the pleasure. Van Dyke was benched against Middle Tennessee, and he has accomplished just 59.3 percent of his passes while throwing 4 touchdown passes and three interceptions. His stock seemingly has fallen off a cliff.

Coming off a bye week, Cristobal claimed he would keep on with Van Dyke because the starting quarterback, however the team’s preseason momentum has already crashed into reality.

Big names at recent places

The Lincoln Riley era at USC has gotten off to an ideal start because the Trojans have cruised to a 5-0 start. Riley bolted Oklahoma for USC and a reported $110 million contract, and has barely stepped a foot mistaken in his nascent tenure. Neither has quarterback Caleb Williams, who has launched himself into the Heisman conversation. Williams, who followed Riley from the Sooners to the Trojans as a transfer, has accomplished 67.3 percent of his passes with 1,402 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception. He’s added 144 yards and a touchdown on the bottom.

Brian Kelly, who left Notre Dame for LSU and a $90 million contract, has steadied the Tigers after an opening-week loss to Florida State that featured late-game shambolics on special teams. Since then, LSU has rattled off 4 straight wins, including most recently a road victory at Auburn.

LSU head coach Brian Kelly blows his whistle before an NCAA college football game against Florida State in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022. After starting his tenure with a surprising loss to Florida State, Brian Kelly has began showing why LSU gave him a $90 million deal to go away Notre Dame.AP

And Kelly’s alternative in South Bend, Marcus Freeman, has righted Notre Dame after an early-season disaster. Notre Dame opened the season with losses to Ohio State and Marshall, but has rebounded with wins over Cal and North Carolina.

The parable of the Mets’ biggest strength

Lightning has struck twice. The Mets’ October hopes depend on it striking a 3rd time — and more times after that.

After shifting the rotation and lining up the 2 aces for last weekend’s critical Braves series, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer got here up lacking, delivering uninspiring outings in the primary two losses of a sweep that saw the Mets thud out of first place.

The Mets’ ability to contend for a title contention pivots on the fulcrum of deGrom and Scherzer, each healthy and pitching on back-to-back days in the most important of games. That actually can still occur, but when it does, it’ll be a rare occurrence.

Jacob deGrom and Max ScherzerThe Mets’ playoff hopes may rely upon Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer delivering the type of performances in back-to-back games they often haven’t this season.Charles Wenzelberg/Recent York Post

The 2 stud pitchers have just twice this season delivered back-to-back Mets wins during their starts. The primary time, on Aug. 6 and seven, got here amid deGrom’s return from the IL for his first major league outing in greater than a 12 months. He tossed 5 ⅔ innings and surrendered two earned runs in a win over the Braves, the day after Scherzer had hurled seven shutout innings. On Sept. 18 and 19, deGrom gave up three earned runs in five innings pitched in a win over the Pirates followed by Scherzer (in his own return from an IL stint) pitching six no-hit innings in a win over the Brewers.

With the Mets now ticketed for the wild-card round after the Braves secured the NL East Tuesday night, MLB’s recent playoff format requires the deGrom-Scherzer back-to-back dream to turn out to be reality to sustain any serious playoff contention.

While they hope Starling Marte can return and supply a needed jolt to the lineup, the Braves series made it clear the Mets will only go so far as their aces take them. DeGrom and Scherzer likely shall be lined up back-to-back within the postseason. It could be what Mets fans have dreamed of since Scherzer put pen to paper on his Mets contract, but to this point it’s remained right there — in dreams.

Now, in the most important games, they’ve the chance to bring those dreams into the actual world. The Mets are banking on it.

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