Tag:Ivan Nova
Posted on: October 5, 2011 12:08 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 12:52 am
 

Tigers need Fister to step up now



By Matt Snyder


Like a pendulum, the momentum in this ALDS has swung back and forth, even a few times during the games. Now that the Yankees put the hurt on the Tigers in Game 4, 10-1, the series will conclude Thursday night in Yankee Stadium. And the pressure is back on the Tigers, as Doug Fister takes the hill.

Fister was essential to the Tigers running away with the AL Central down the stretch. He was acquired from the Mariners in late July to minimal fanfare and immediately locked in for Detroit. After the trade, Fister was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA and 0.84 WHIP and a much higher strikeout rate than he had for Seattle. Of course, he didn't have to face the Yankees during that stretch. In Game 1 of the ALDS, he did. And he faltered.

New York-Detroit ALDS
The outing was odd from the get-go, as Fister started on the hill as a road pitcher, and it was the bottom of the second inning, as it was a continuation of a suspended game. Still, he had time to prepare just as he would for any normal start. The result, in Fister's first career playoff appearance, was seven hits, two walks and six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. He even balked. It was easily the worst outing of his brief Tigers career.

It's possible any nerves that may have affected Fister last time out will be gone, now that he has an outing in Yankee Stadium under his belt. Of course, the pressure won't lessen at all, because this is Game 5 of a five-game series in The Big Apple.

Whatever the problem was in Game 1, it needs to be solved before Thursday, because the Tigers are playing the Yankees in a win-or-go-home game. And the Yankees have the momentum.

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Posted on: October 2, 2011 12:13 am
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:27 am
 

Nova all the Yankees need in a No. 2 starter



By Matt Snyder


The narrative we heard all last offseason and during most of the 2011 regular season was that the Yankees' rotation behind CC Sabathia is a mess. You can't win in October with only one good starting pitcher, the narrative reads. And while Ivan Nova had a 16-4 regular-season record, his low strikeout rate, high WHIP and mediocre ERA say he's not much more than a run-of-the-mill starter being aided by a playing on a great team.

But you know what? All the Yankees need out of a two is consistency. Nova provides it.

Full Playoff Coverage
The outing Saturday night proved he's plenty capable of filling the second slot in the Yankees rotation, just as he's been proving all season. He worked into the ninth, which was his seventh inning, before faltering. His final line: 6 1/3 innings, four hits, two earned runs, four walks, five strikeouts and the win. That's not great, but it's not bad either. Basically, it was the same story it has been all year with Nova. He's not great, but he's good enough and that's really all the Yankees need from him.

The biggest test Saturday was how Nova would handle the postseason stage. He'd never previously pitched in the playoffs and was facing a pretty potent Detroit offense. One would have to conclude he passed the test with flying colors through six innings of work.

Nova's not A.J. Burnett, where you're liable to see either a 9-run, 3-inning outing or a 10-stirkeout shutout. The Yankees don't need to gamble like that. They have one of the most high-powered offenses in baseball and a back-end of the bullpen that can shut down any opposing offense with relative ease. They don't need Sabathia-type dominance every time out in order to win. Nova just provides exactly what the Yankees need. There are no hills and valleys. They have their ace to take care of business against other aces. Behind CC, they need Nova to provide a quality start. That's it. That's all the Yankees need out of their second starter.

Nova didn't start Saturday night, as the game was a continuation from where it left off Friday night, but his line would have amounted to a quality start. He had 16 quality starts in the regular season. He won 16 games. The Yankees won 19 of his 27 starts in the regular season. They won Saturday night.

Are we starting to get the picture here? Nova is unspectacular, but that doesn't much matter. The game Saturday night was simply a microcosm for his entire 2011 season. He took the ball, threw his six good innings and when the Tigers started to make a run, Mariano Rivera came out of the bullpen and closed the door. During that time period, the offense scored nine runs.

That's a formula for winning lots of series. Maybe even the World Series.

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 9:47 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 12:25 am
 

Cano's near-homer breaks up pitcher's duel



By Matt Snyder


Game 1 of the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees was supposed to be a matchup of aces; a pitcher's duel for the ages. It was set to showcase a pair of Cy Young candidates. And then Mother Nature intervened and we had to re-start Game 1 Saturday in the bottom of the second inning.

Early on, it looked like we'd get that pitcher's duel anyway, only this time it would be courtesy of Ivan Nova and Doug Fister.

Through five, Nova has thrown three shutout innings, allowing two hits and no runs. Sure, he was helped by a nice relay from Curtis Granderson to Derek Jeter to Russell Martin to nail Alex Avila at home plate, but no runs have scored, so that's the bottom line.

Fister, meanwhile, had been even better. He'd thrown three shutout innings, having allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking none. But a Curtis Granderson single and a near-home run from Robinson Cano gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead through five innings. The ball bounced right off the top of the wall in left-center field and came back into play. Two fans in the direct line of the ball even backed away and let the play run its course. The umpires used the replay review system and determined the call of no home run on the field would stand. Alex Rodriguez then flew out to end the inning, but the Yankees had notched an advantage.

Still, both offenses appear to be getting settled in. This thing is far from over.

Click here to follow the action live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Yankees-Tigers series2011 playoffs

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am
 

Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:

 

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 

 

2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 

 

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.

 

4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.



6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.

 

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.

 

8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 12:01 pm
 

On Deck: Pivotal day for wild cards



By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Big day: It's possible that by the second game of the doubleheader, the Red Sox will know a loss drops them into a tie for the wild card. In the first game of a doubleheader, the Sox throw Tim Wakefield against A.J. Burnett, two pitchers with ERAs north of 5.00. In the second game, Boston offers up sacrificial lamb John Lackey and his 6.49 ERA against Ivan Nova. That's not exactly a duo of pitchers that inspires confidence. If the Red Sox lose both games and the Rays win, there will be a tie in the wild card. Red Sox vs. Yankees, 1:05, 6:05 p.m. ET

MinorDetwilerStaving off collapse: A wild-card collapse is also possible in the NL, where the Braves are two up on the Cardinals. Unfortunately, Atlanta is going up against the Nationals, who has been on a hot streak lately and is sending Ross Detwiler to the mound. Detwiler has yet to put in a full year's work, but is locking up a 2012 rotation spot thanks to his strong 3.30 ERA in 60 innings, posting the best walk rate of his short major-league career. The Braves will counter with their own young lefty, Mike Minor. Minor has a 4.27 ERA in 78 innings. Braves vs. Nationals, 1:35 p.m. ET

Losing streak
: The stumbling Phillies, losers of eight straight, will look to Roy Halladay to play stopper against the Mets. Chasing his 19th win, Halladay is going up against the Mets as Philadelphia tries to avoid a MLB record ninth straight loss after clinching a division title. "I'm sitting there watching it. Don't know what I can do about it," manager Charlie Manuel told the Associated Press. "If you want to know the truth, our team's out of sync, definitely out of focus, and we're not playing. The Mets counter with Mike Pelfrey. Phillies vs. Mets, 2:10 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:10 pm
Edited on: September 24, 2011 10:12 pm
 

Playoff race: Rays could catch Boston on Sunday

Carl Crawford

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rays could catch the Red Sox as soon as Sunday following Saturday's 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays and the Red Sox's 9-1 loss to the Yankees. Tampa Bay trails Boston by just 1.5 games after Saturday's games.

Wade Davis takes the hill for Tampa Bay against Brett Cecil, while the Red Sox send Tim Wakefield and John Lackey to the mound for their doubleheader in New York against A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova. A Rays win and a Yankees sweep would tie the teams in the wild card standings with just three games remaining.

If you're a Red Sox fan, it looks like now's the time to get nervous (if you weren't already).

Here's what's left for both teams:

Boston Red Sox
88-69
Remaining schedule: 2 @ NYY, 3 @BAL
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 88.4 percent

Tampa Bay Rays
87-71, 1.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 v. TOR, 3 v. NYY
Coolstandings.com expectancy of wild card: 10 percent

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:03 pm
 

AL Rookie of the Year race wide open



By Matt Snyder


During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL Rookie of the Year.

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young

Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who get to vote for the Rookie of the Year in either respective league are forced to narrow the field to three players. In looking at the American League rookies in 2011, that's not a simple task. It seems like the three best at the moment haven't been up for long. Others were stellar for a stretch but have also suffered through rough patches. It's a subjective award, so let's throw some names out there.

Here are seven players who have a realistic shot and three more who could have had one -- if they were recalled from the minors earlier (denoted by an asterisk).

*Dustin Ackley, Mariners. One of the future anchors to the Mariners lineup has only been up for 71 games, which likely isn't enough to garner tons of support here. He is hitting .300 with 13 doubles, seven triples and six home runs and an .845 OPS. He scores well in WAR (wins above replacement player), but he probably needed to be overly spectacular to win the award with what will be just over a half season.

J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays. Big power (21 home runs) at a tough defensive position is a plus. It would be awfully difficult to overcome the .221 batting average and .281 on-base percentage to win the award in a crowded field, though.

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays. It feels like he'll have a good shot, depending on how the rest of the season goes. Hellickson is currently 12-10 with a 2.90 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He also has two complete games and is averaging 6 2/3 innings per start. It's been a very solid rookie campaign, even if not spectacular.

Eric Hosmer, Royals. The 21-year-old first baseman has been very good since getting his call in May. He's hitting .285/.335/.458 with 16 home runs, 66 RBI, 55 runs and nine stolen bases. Like Hellickson, though, Hosmer's been more steady than spectacular. The next two guys have been spectacular, but only for a short time ...

*Desmond Jennings, Rays. He's only been up for 44 games, but he's hitting .302 with nine home runs, 15 stolen bases and a .936 OPS. He also passes the eye test, as he comes through in the clutch and has made a few highlight-reel defensive plays. The talent is immense, but the service time probably keeps him off most ballots.

*Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays. In just 32 games, Lawrie is hitting .324 with eight homers, 21 RBI, 19 runs, six steals and a 1.076 OPS. He also has a few clutch home runs (see the picture to the right) and plays the game with a youthful enthusiasm (again, see right). Had he not broken his hand on a hit-by-pitch earlier this summer in the minors, a promotion was likely to come earlier and he'd probably have a real shot at the award, Instead, he's going to have enough service time to qualify as a rookie, yet probably not near enough to gather many, if any, votes.

Ivan Nova, Yankees. Do you like win-loss record in judging pitchers? If so, Nova's your guy here in a no-brainer. He entered Thursday 15-4 for the first-place Yankees. If you don't love win-loss record, he probably doesn't win the award. He has a 3.89 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with a low strikeout rate (again, these numbers are prior to Thursday's start).

Michael Pineda, Mariners. The gargantuan starting pitcher was the easy favorite to win the award at the All-Star break. He was 8-6 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 113 strikeouts in 113 innings at the time. Since then, he's 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA. Still, did he do enough to hold on? His full season numbers: 9-9, 3.74 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 163 strikeouts in 159 innings. It will be interesting to see how the early stretch of dominance (6-2, 2.16 ERA through nine starts) plays in the minds of the voters.

Mark Trumbo, Angels. His power numbers look great -- 26 homers, 80 RBI, 28 doubles -- and he's playing in a pennant race. He's also had the job since opening day and has admirably filled in at first for injured Kendrys Morales. Trumbo also had some clutch moments of his own. Do the average (.256), on-base percentage (.295) and strikeout-to-walk (102 to 24) rates hurt him? We'll see.

Jordan Walden, Angels. The 23-year-old closer made the All-Star team, but he's faltered in several rough stretches. What looks good: 29 saves, 2.55 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 53 innings. What doesn't: Nine blown saves out of 38 chances. That's awfully high. So do the positives outweigh the negatives? There's sure to be some disagreement among voters.

So who is the best candidate? What would be your top three? Let us know below ...

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 2:53 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 11:36 pm
 

Players of the Month: Avila, Lee



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Every year August is the month when some teams pull away in the playoff race and others fade -- it's one of the biggest months of the season, even if it doesn't have the drama of September or the stakes of October. By the time August is done, there are few surprises -- what you see is what you get.

August's Best
Expert Batter Pitcher
Knobler Ortiz Lee
Miller Granderson Lee
Brunell Avila Kershaw
Rosecrans Votto Lee
Snyder Avila Lee
Fantasy Avila Lee

While one surprise team (Pittsburgh) fizzled, another (Arizona) sizzled. The Diamondbacks started August two games back in the NL West and now lead the defending champion Giants by six games. The D-Backs finished August on a nine-game winning streak -- they also had a seven-game winning streak earlier in the month. Kirk Gibson's club did have a six-game losing streak in the past 31 days, but the Giants have struggled all month, allowing some breathing distance for the D-Backs. 

This August has seen Atlanta's Dan Uggla go from a disappointment to, well, Dan Uggla. His hitting streak ended at 33 games, but his average increased from .206 at the end of July to .232 at the end of August. In all, he hit in 22 of 26 August games and went .340/.405/.670 with 10 homers as the Braves solidified their hold on the NL wild-card spot. 

Uggla was one of three players with 10 homers in the month, along with the Yankees' Curtis Granderson and the Rays' Evan Lognoria.

But it's Detroit's Alex Avila who gains the nod as our Batter of the Month.

His value to the Tigers lineup sealed the deal. Avila hit .360 with seven homers, 19 runs, 18 RBI and a 1.169 OPS in the August. Getting that kind of production from anywhere is incredible, but from a catcher it's just gravy. Even better, Avila bounced back from an awful July in which he hit .197 with a .584 OPS. Some may have thought his breakthrough season was coming to an end, but August was his biggest month of the season.

Meanwhile nine different pitchers picked up five wins. Some of the names (Cliff Lee, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander) aren't surprising, while some (Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero) were young guns making their mark. Another was a pitcher (Hiroki Kuroda) finally getting run support and the last (Bruce Chen) was a total surprise.

But Lee was The Man. He started five games. He won five games. He only allowed two earned runs, which both came in the same game. He averaged nearly eight innings per start, saving the Phillies bullpen some extra work. He struck out nearly a batter per inning while allowing less than one baserunner per inning, meaning he kept the pressure off his defense. Basically, Lee did it all for the Phillies in August, and that's why he snags this Pitcher award for a second consecutive month.

Past players of the month: April | May | June | July


Batter of the Month
Danny Knobler Scott Miller
David Ortiz David Ortiz, Red Sox
Picking a player of the month wasn't easy, but David Ortiz's big two-run home run on Aug. 31 against the Yankees clinched it. Not exactly, but it helped. Even before that, Ortiz had a 1.308 August OPS that was the best by any major-league regular. In a month where no one player really stood out, he was definitely in the mix. And then he homered against the Yankees. So it's him.
Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson, Yankees
Granderson's August catapulted him squarely into the AL MVP running. I love the symmetry, too: 29 RBI in August, and 29 runs scored. The runs led the majors and ribbies ranked second. Texas' Mike Napoli had a higher OPS (1.094-1.016) and deserves consideration, but if I picked one player to start a team with right now, it's Curtis G.
Evan Brunell C. Trent Rosecrans
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila has really come into his own in 2011. In August, he hit .372/.481/.721 with seven homers in 25 games. Did I mention he's a catcher? Avila's grip on the starting spot is so strong, he caught 18 consecutive games at one point during August. "He's been absolutely unbelievable," manager Jim Leyland told  MLive.com. "He's been tremendous. There's no question about it. Pretty impressive. Pretty darn impressive." Indeed.
Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds 
Votto's August was much like Votto himself -- quiet and excellent. The Reds first baseman hit .347/.483/.716 with nine homers and 19 RBI in August. The Reds aren't in the postseason race, so it's unlikely Votto will get much consideration for MVP, but he may have had a better season than he did a year ago when he won the award.
Matt Snyder Fantasy -- Al Melchior
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Have you seen his average and slugging percentage in the month? That's just sick, especially for a catcher tasked with scouting opposing hitters and working with his pitching staff day in and day out. The young backstop just keeps getting better for the Tigers, who meanwhile keep winning games and appear headed for the postseason.
Alex Avila Alex Avila, Tigers
Avila wasn't the most productive hitter in Fantasy formats, but he was probably the most productive relative to his position. He lapped the field of catchers, hitting .360 with seven homers and 18 RBI. He also helped owners in formats that reward walks by drawing 19 free passes in his 109 plate appearances. While he didn't have the overall production of Granderson or Carlos Gonzalez, Avila helped his Fantasy owners immensely by providing elite-level production at a thin position.
Pitcher of the Month
Knobler Miller
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
In June, Cliff Lee went 5-0 and allowed just one run. In August, he went 5-0 and allowed two. That means he was slightly better in June than in August. It also means he's had two incredible months, and that he's my pitcher of the month -- again.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
This is why Philadelphia re-signed this guy. No, not to pitch in August. But to pitch in October LIKE he's pitched in August. Yeah, the 5-0 record in five starts grabs your attention, but that's just the beginning of the dominance. The 0.45 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the 39 strikeouts against just eight walks, the 0.78 WHIP ... until Wednesday night, the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was my guy, but Lee's WHIP and strikeouts/walks ratio even tops Kershaw's (0.95, 39/10).
Brunell Rosecrans
Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Kershaw has been bandied about as one of the next great pitchers, but he's great right now, with a 5-1 August catapulting him into the Cy Young Award chase. Don't look now, but Kershaw has a better record (17-5 to 16-5) than Halladay, thrown more innings (198 2/3; 196 2/3) and has a lower ERA, with a 2.45 mark compared to 2.47 on the year. That's thanks to a month in which the lefty hurled 46 1/3 innings, checking in with a 1.55 ERA.
Cliff LeeCliff Lee, Phillies
Only three times in baseball history has a pitcher had two months in one season with five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00 -- Walter Johnson in 1913, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Lee in 2011. Lee threw 551 pitches in the month and just one resulted in runs -- a two-run homer by Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt on Aug. 17 in 9-2 Philadelphia victory.

Snyder Fantasy -- Scott White
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies
August was the second month this season where Lee's just been lights-out. This time around, he went 5-0 with a 0.45 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 39 strikeouts in his five starts. His worst outing in the month came when Lee gave up three hits and two earned runs in a win against the first-place D-Backs.
Cliff Lee Cliff Lee, Phillies 
Lee made five starts in August and allowed zero runs in four of them, accomplishing the feat for the second time in three months. He won each of those five starts, averaging eight innings. He'll have his bouts with inconsistency, as was the case during an uneven July, but when he's on, he's arguably the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball. He showed it again in August.

Danny Knobler and Scott Miller are Senior MLB Writers; Evan Brunell, C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder are Eye on Baseball Bloggers; Al Melchior is a Fantasy Data Analyst; and Scott White is a Fantasy Writer.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com