Leaflets: Some stray thoughts heading into the expansion draft roster freeze

Today we’ll be granted a short break for trades and buyouts as the league heads into it’s roster freeze until after the expansion draft. While there were plenty of rumours of Alexander Kerfoot or Travis Dermott being on the move, nothing has materialized yet, and with just five hours to go, it seems like the Leafs roster is locked until Wednesday night when the Kraken player selection will be made official.
While it’s possible the names of players protected by each team will start leaking out tonight, nothing official is expected from the clubs until tomorrow.
Here are a few of my stray thoughts heading into what will be a busy couple of weeks for the Leafs.
The best trade partner might be the Seattle Kraken
Once the lists are made official and it is known who teams are leaving exposed in the draft, it might not be the worst thing for the Leafs to connect with the Kraken and ask them to do a bit of shopping on Toronto’s behalf. Especially on positions such as goaltender this could be a huge advantage for both Seattle and the Leafs if they can find a situation that …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Robbie Ray, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Steven Matz will face Texas out of the All-Star Break

Come out of the All-Star break with your ace on the mound.

That’s what the Blue Jays are doing, as Robbie Ray will start for the team on Friday in Buffalo against the Texas Rangers. After Ray will be Hyun Jin Ryu and Steven Matz.

The #BlueJays rotation will come out of the All-Star break with:
Robbie RayHyun Jin RyuSteven Matz
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) July 15, 2021

Having Ray as the first starter out was really a no-brainer as he’s been Toronto’s best starter thus far. Ray starting on Friday means that he’ll also be in line to make his next two starts against the Boston Red Sox, which are key games in the team’s pursuit of the American League East crown.
The other interesting thing here is the plan to roll with three lefties against Texas. I would assume this is because Joey Gallo, a lefty, is Texas’ only good hitter, and it also leaves the Blue Jays with a pair of righties, Alek Manoah and Ross Stripling, going up against Boston’s righty-heavy lineup with J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.
Many had been hoping that we would see Thomas Hatch called up in place …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 29: Taking a trip around the American League with MLB dot com’s Jordan Horrobin

It might be the All-Star break but The Content never sleeps!

We did a special edition of BJN Radio this week, talking about the Toronto Blue Jays beating the National League in the All-Star game thanks to a monster homer from Vladdy, a double from Teoscar Hernandez, and an RBI from Marcus Semien.
After that, we welcomed MLB.com jack-of-all-trades beat reporter Jordan Horrobin to the show to take a trip around the American League. We touched on whether or not the Red Sox are frauds, why the Yankees have been so stunningly mediocre, what the Blue Jays should do at the trade deadline, and whether or not there are any other teams in the wild-card clump that we should be worried about.
Finally, we looked ahead to the upcoming series against the Texas Rangers and talked about how the Blue Jays should acquire Joey Gallo, Ian Kennedy, and Kyle Gibson before the first pitch is thrown on Friday night.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Top to Bottom: Thoughts on all of the Blue Jays position players at the All-Star break

We’re at the All-Star break and the Blue Jays are sitting third in the American League East with a 45-42 record, four-and-a-half games back of the Oakland A’s for the second wild-card seed with a pair of teams in Cleveland and Seattle to hop.

To be blunt, the first half has been a strange ride. The bats have been quite good, the starting pitching has been fair, the bullpen has largely been a mess, and there have been a whole bunch of injuries. Put it all together and the Blue Jays are wildly underachieving based on their run differential, as their Pythagorean record courtesy of Baseball-Reference sits at 50-37.
With nothing going on for a few days, I’m going to take a look at everybody who has suited up for the Blue Jays this season, what they’ve done so far, and what we can expect from them in the second half. I’ll start with the 17 position players and rank them based on FanGraphs’ wins above replacement.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (4.6 WAR)
There isn’t much that needs to be said here. Vladdy’s breakout season has been magnificent.
He’s currently slashing a .332/.430/.658 line with 28 homers. …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Meet the Sellers: Kansas City Royals

Going into the All-star break, the Kansas City Royals are clear sellers.

Coming into the season, they were considered a dark horse in the AL Central after some interesting offseason signings. They went out and signed OBP king, Carlos Santana, and traded for then Boston outfielder, Andrew Benintendi, while having a solid young nucleus. They were expecting a big jump this season from some of their young minor league arms. Guys like Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch have not been able to repeat successful minor league numbers. Instead, the Royals sit at the bottom of the division with a 36-53 record. 
The Royals have some interesting pieces potentially on the block. One of which has struggled mightily this season but is a great buy-low candidate. They also have an ace that has put up terrific numbers this season before he hit the IL. Moreover, they have a reliever with closing experience. That reliever used to be elite, is struggling this season, but is coming off a solid campaign in 2020.
Here are some players that would fill the Blue Jays’ needs…
Brad Keller
This would be a perfect buy-low opportunity for the Jays. He has had his …

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Author: Eric Lightfoot / Blue Jays Nation

Dodgers, Astros atop World Series odds at all-star break

by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
At the all-star break, the value on the World Series odds board might lie with teams that have an inside track to winning a division.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are set as the +350 favorite on the latest 2021 World Series odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The top of the board also includes the Houston Astros (+500), San Diego Padres (+700), Chicago White Sox (+700), New York Mets (+900), Boston Red Sox (+1000), San Francisco Giants (+1000), Milwaukee Brewers (+1200), and Tampa Bay Rays (+1200) (how sports betting works).
The Dodgers, who are attempting to become MLB’s first repeat champion since 2000, have the lowest earned-run average in baseball and a deep offensive lineup that has covered for a slow start by former National League MVP Cody Bellinger. One issue is the potential loss of righthanded pitcher Trevor Bauer, who is facing a domestic violence investigation.
Los Angeles is in a tight three-way NL West race with San Diego and San Francisco.  The Giants could be the value play due to pitching and hitting depth. They have MLB’s second-lowest staff ERA and have hit the most home runs in MLB even though Brandon Crawford is the only regular with more than 12. The …

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Author: Nation World HQ / Blue Jays Nation

Playoff Preview: What makes this Leafs team different? The defense

The forwards are what gets the attention and can break a game open, especially with the Leafs elite talent up front. The goaltending can singlehandedly win and lose you games, something we learned with Andersen and Campbell this season. But, that’s always been a trait of past Leafs teams in this era.
So, why is this team so much different and looked at as so much stronger than past teams? It’s been the upgrades on defense that have been slowly made over the last few seasons for it to be what it is now. Between both the personnel and the systems set in place to help them succeed, it’s created one of the best defensive teams we’ve seen in a long time, especially in the cap era, becoming a top 10 team in goal, shot, and expected goal suppression, something we haven’t seen in a while.
Unlike the forward group, the defense has been relatively consistent all season, with very few changes and even fewer injuries meaning we saw relatively the same group.
Morgan Rielly & TJ Brodie
Technically, this is the team’s top pair due to the fact that they play the most, but …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

News and Notes: Nash will start skating soon, Sandin getting a longer look, Andersen nearing return

News and Notes: Nash will start skating soon, Sandin getting a longer look, Andersen nearing return

The Leafs’ three-day break is nearing its end and their tilt against the Canadiens is nearly 24 hours away at the time of writing. Tuesday’s practice saw a few interesting tidbits of information become available regarding how the team’s lineups could look heading down the stretch.
First, one of the acquisitions from the deadline is nearly ready to begin practicing with his new teammates.

While he doesn’t have specifics, Sheldon Keefe said he expects Riley Nash to begin skating with the Leafs this week.
— Joshua Kloke (@joshuakloke) April 27, 2021

Riley Nash is currently on the sidelines due to a knee sprain he suffered back on April 4th. That proved to be his final game as a Blue Jacket since he was traded to the Leafs for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft, which would become a sixth if he plays in 25% of Toronto’s playoff games.
Speaking of playoffs, that is likely when Nash makes his Leafs debut due to it being three weeks into his projected six-week recovery period his clearance would likely be around the time the postseason begins. It’s also because his $2.75 million salaries would not fit onto the Leafs currently as they would be …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Leafs willing to trade top prospects and other notes from Kyle Dubas’ media availability

With the Leafs in the midst of a break in their schedule, general manager Kyle Dubas spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the first half of the season and the Leafs’ plans leading up to trade deadline day.
Dubas opened his virtual presser with some praise for his group, saying he believes the current standings are an accurate representation of how they have performed thus far. Despite some recent struggles, the Leafs still sit atop the North Division standings heading into a two game set with the Flames this weekend.

Dubas (before questions): “The standings are a fair indication of our overall quality in the first half of the season.” Will explore trade options prior to deadline. #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) March 16, 2021

Though the Leafs haven’t gotten the desired results as of late, Dubas believes his team his still played well for the most part and that this recent slide is an opportunity for his group to grow through a bit of adversity.
Even in recent losses, this Leafs team hasn’t wilted the way we’ve seen some past rosters do when things aren’t going well. The team is sticking with it and battling …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Pass or Pursue on forgotten big Kevin Love

Toronto Raptors: Pass or Pursue on forgotten big Kevin Love

Now that the All-Star Break has come and gone, the Toronto Raptors can get on with the second half of their season. The team has had many obstacles to overcome this season, some self-imposed and others through no fault of their own. The COVID-19 flare-up that affected the team almost two weeks ago has not cleared […]
Toronto Raptors: Pass or Pursue on forgotten big Kevin Love – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jason Mills / Raptors HQ