Nationals

Iowa's Hyde looks forward to NFL draft

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Iowa's Hyde looks forward to NFL draft

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) There were few bright spots for Iowa last season as the Hawkeyes stumbled to their worst record in more than a decade.

The struggles didn't include the play of cornerback Micah Hyde.

Hyde closed out a stellar career by being named the Big Ten's defensive back of the year for 2012. He was also the only Iowa player to be named a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the league's coaches and media members.

``It was good that some people recognized me, and it was an honor to get that award. Obviously they respect my game,'' Hyde said.

Hyde hopes the NFL comes to feel the same way. The three-year starter at cornerback is perhaps Iowa's most promising NFL prospect this spring.

Hyde won the Big Ten honor despite intercepting just one pass this season as teams often thought better of attacking his side of the field. He did have a team-high 14 pass breakups to go with three fumble recoveries and a pair of forced fumbles.

Hyde has good size for a cornerback at 6-foot-1 and just over 190 pounds, and he's got plenty of positive game film for scouts to pore over dating to 2009. But Hyde has a lot of work ahead of him over the next three months, so he's signed up with the TEST Football Academy in San Diego to prepare for the scouting combine and April draft.

``The last year I ran the 40 (meter dash) was my sophomore year in college. I ran (in) 4.5 (seconds), and I know I'm faster than that,'' Hyde said. ``It's basically everything. To get stronger, to get faster.''

The Hawkeyes have had a decent run of defensive backs who've reached the NFL in recent years like Carolina's Charles Godfrey, Amari Spievey of Detroit and Tyler Sash of the New York Giants.

Hyde's college career can stand up with any of his recent Iowa peers. He was an honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick in 2010 while playing alongside Sash, and his 72-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sealed a win over Missouri in the Insight Bowl.

Hyde started a pair of games at free safety the following year. His size and play-making ability seemed to make the move a logical one - and Hyde could end up playing safety at the next level - but the Hawkeyes moved him back to cornerback out of necessity. He finished his Iowa career as the veteran leader of a defense whose issues extended far beyond anything Hyde could fix.

Hyde also stumbled personally for the first and only time with the Hawkeyes.

He was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication and interference with official acts in early October. Coach Kirk Ferentz stripped him of his captaincy, but cited Hyde's track record of positive behavior in not suspending him.

Hyde said Ferentz did force him to face reporters a few days later and explain his mistake.

``He knew exactly what happened. He knew that I'm not a bad individual,'' Hyde said of Ferentz. ``He told me to keep my nose clean, don't get in trouble again. It was unfortunate. It could have been a huge deal.''

Hyde also returned punts at Iowa and should be able to offer versatility in both special teams and the defensive backfield. Hyde will certainly be missed by the Hawkeyes, who are in full-fledged rebuilding mode after a 4-8 season that surprised even Hyde.

He's optimistic a more experienced defense will help Iowa bounce back next fall.

``I wouldn't worry about it, to be honest. The defense is coming up,'' Hyde said. ``Yeah, we had a bad season this year. But it's only going to make more guys that much more hungry.''

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP

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Past Nationals relievers: Where are they now?

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Past Nationals relievers: Where are they now?

It’s no secret that the Nationals bullpen is one of the weakest units in baseball this season. Fans in the nation’s capital have spent two months watching relievers cough up leads and put games out of reach, and the numbers speak for themselves. 

Washington’s team ERA among relievers is an unsightly 7.09 entering Memorial Day Weekend, nearly a full run higher than the 29th-ranked Orioles. As a unit, they’ve pitched fewer innings than any other bullpen, yet have allowed the second-most earned runs.

No one has been immune. Sean Doolittle, by far the best option in 2019, has seen his ERA balloon to 3.68. Justin Miller is the only other regular reliever with an ERA below 5, and he’s at 4.02.

It’s caused much consternation in the fanbase, and for good reason. Where did the Nationals go wrong in building this bullpen? What could they have done differently?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at four relievers who are experiencing various levels of success while no longer in Washington.

Felipe Vazquez

Vazquez has been lights out in Pittsburgh in 2019. He ranks top-10 among relievers in WAR (0.9) and top-12 in ERA (1.25). He holds the sixth-best K/9 (14.54) and is tied for the fourth-most saves in baseball with 13.

Every one of those numbers would lead the Nationals with ease. At 27, Vazquez has turned into one of the elite relievers in the sport. He’s been terrific all three years with the Pirates, and 2019 looks like his best season yet.

Of course, he wasn’t ready to be this guy in 2016 when the Nationals traded him for Mark Melancon. It was a necessary trade at the time, and one that worked out well in a vacuum. Melancon pitched well in Washington and didn’t allow a run in the 2016 postseason.

Right now, the Nats could really use a Felipe Vazquez, but the logic behind their trade at the time was sound.

Blake Treinen

Treinen has already allowed as many earned runs in 2019 (seven) as he did in all of 2018. It’s not a knock on his performance this season, where his 2.59 ERA would still lead the Nationals, but a recognition of just how dominant he was in 2018.

In the modern era of Major League Baseball, it’s just about impossible for a reliever to win the Cy Young. Even with just 80 innings pitched last year, Treinen finished sixth in Cy Young voting and 15th in MVP voting. 

That’s right. He was so good, he got down-ballot votes for MVP. It was a sensational year.

His usually-elite ground ball rate is down this season, which has led to some regression, but it’s still notable he put together a 2018 season that far outshines any individual season the Nats have seen.

It was clear in 2017 he wasn’t capable of performing as the team’s closer, eventually earning a demotion before being traded to Oakland.

Despite his enormous success in the years since the trade, it’s hard to question the Nationals here. Not only did it seem apparent Treinen wasn’t going to figure things out in D.C., but the trade brought back Sean Doolittle, the lone consistently great reliever the Nats have had in recent years.

Brandon Kintzler

Kintzler pitched parts of two seasons in Washington, but ultimately spent exactly one year with the Nationals. In that year, he tossed 68.2 innings while striking out 43 batters and walking 18.

His ERA with the Nationals was 3.54, too high for a high-leverage reliever. He struggled mightily in 2018 after being traded to the Cubs, but has settled down this season to the tune of a 2.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 24 innings.

As is the case for just about any halfway-decent reliever, the current Nationals bullpen would benefit from having him, but this isn’t nearly the loss Treinen or Vasquez were.

Shawn Kelley

Kelley was up-and-down in his time with the Nationals. His ERA was below three in 2016 and 2018, but the 2017 season was marred with injuries, inconsistency, and a tendency to allow home runs (a whopping 12 in just 26 innings).

Of course, Kelley was pitching better in 2018, but it wasn’t performance that led to his departure. 

In a blowout Nationals 25-4 victory over the Mets in July 2018, Kelley allowed three earned runs, including a home run. After the home run, he slammed his glove on the ground while staring at the Nats dugout.

The next day, he was designated for assignment as a result of the outburst and never pitched for the Nationals again, traded away a few days later. 

In his 33.2 innings since the trade, Kelley has been terrific. He posted a 2.16 ERA with the Athletics in 2018 and currently holds a 1.59 ERA in 2019 despite pitching his home games in Texas. He’s even filled in at closer with the Rangers, recording five saves so far this year.

Though his removal wasn’t for performance issues like Kintzler's or to acquire proven closers like Treinen’s and Vasquez’s were, the loss of Kelley can be felt just as hard. As is the case with each of these relievers, Kelley’s numbers would lead the Nationals bullpen in just about every category.

For the most part, these moves made sense at the time, for one reason or another. But the Nationals have yet to adequately replace most of these arms, and the 2019 team is suffering as a result.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Free agent Gerald McCoy to visit Baltimore

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Free agent Gerald McCoy to visit Baltimore

Kick off your holiday weekend with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. One of the most obvious needs for the Ravens is help rushing the passer, and they're hoping to find some of that help on the interior in the form of free agent Gerald McCoy. The longtime Buccaneer DL visited Cleveland last week, but left town without agreeing to a contract.

Reportedly interested in playing for a contender, the former top-five pick is scheduled to visit the Ravens on Tuesday.

2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is still struggling to throw the ball, as he noted things aren't right yet when it comes to accuracy. Media members noticed the ball wobbling through the air on many throws, and Jackson told them he thinks his hand is too high on the ball. If he's going to successfully run Greg Roman's new offensive scheme, Jackson will eventually need to be able to hit his receivers in stride with greater regularity.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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