It was a grind for Kelley just to make the team in last year’s training camp. It’s an even tougher challenge to hold off Perine for lead duties.
While Perine’s former Oklahoma backfield teammate Joe Mixon has gotten more buzz with Gruden’s former team in Cincinnati, the Redskins’ fourth-round pick is out to remind everyone how he became the Sooners’ all-time leading rusher.
Mixon got drafted before Perine because of the former’s flashy speed and explosiveness. Perine is more of a head-down, lunchpail-type runner who grinds to get every yard. He quickly impressed in early practices by showing burst with his no-nonsense style.
Perine (5-11, 233 pounds) is built very similarly to Kelley (6-0, 233 pounds) but looks like a more sleek, compact power package. Although Perine’s trademark has been pounding away for chunk runs between the tackles and after initial contact, he also is capable of breakaway plays.
Though Sabathia isn’t striking out as many batters as in years past, he’s been keeping the ball on the ground and in the park. He’s allowed only 0.91 HR/9, which is his lowest mark since a 0.64 HR/9 during his 19-win 2011 campaign. Continuing a trend from 2016, Sabathia is also allowing ground balls at a 50.2-percent rate, which would be his highest ratio since a 21-win season in 2010.
Since May 15, or his last nine starts, Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has the second-best ERA in that span, sporting a 7-1 record with a 1.62 ERA and an OPS of .589 against him. He has a better ERA than Clayton Kershaw and is second to Corey Kluber, who has a 1.56 ERA in that span.
Sabathia hasn’t just brought stats to the table to help his cause. He’s helped a young Yankees pitching staff that features two starters under the age of 25 who have been huge parts of the team’s success. He’s become the Yankees’ leader on the mound.