BJN Radio – Ep. 52: The 2021 Blue Jays Eulogy

This one was a doozy!

Me, Tyler, and BK sat down and each came up with our own ‘three up, three down’ from this year as a way to look back on all of the good, bad, and everything in between from the 2021 Blue Jays season.
We talked about the good stuff, like Vladdy’s breakout season, the value of Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray’s one-year contracts, Alek Manoah becoming The Big Man out of the blue, the home run jacket being insanely cool, and the amazing homecoming to Toronto in July.
We also talked about the bad stuff, like the chaos that was the early-season bullpen, the ugly losses that ultimately cost the Blue Jays a playoff spot, Hyun Jin Ryu’s struggles, George Springer’s injuries, and the current MLB schedule and post-season format.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #17 Ilya Mikheyev

Ilya Mikheyev came into the Leafs’ organization as a relative unknown after signing as an undrafted free agent out of the KHL in the 2019 offseason. It didn’t take long for him to endear himself to the Leafs faithful, however, due in large part to his up-tempo style of play and his famous plea for more soup during his early days in Toronto.
His strong play prior to a scary injury that derailed his rookie season brought on increased expectations for Mikheyev in the 2020-21 season but he was unable to take a step forward in terms of his offensive production. Following a bit of a down year, an offseason that saw the Leafs add multiple depth forwards to the roster, and a trade request spurred by frustration with his usage, Mikheyev lands at #17 on our countdown.
Five Interesting Stats
5v5 TOI/GP
ixG (Penalty Kill)
5v5 GA/60
Mikheyev’s complaints about his role and ice time don’t hold much water when you consider that he played the seventh most minutes at 5v5 among Leafs forwards (excluding Nick Foligno who played just seven regular season games with Toronto) but his concerns likely stem from his lack of …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Marlies report cards: Forwards

The Toronto Marlies 35-game season came to a close on May 20th. It was an eventful last few weeks as the team played their final 13 games in the last 20 days of their season, due to AHL COVID-19 protocols.
No playoffs, no Calder Cup — nothing.
I’d suppose the correct word for this season was bizarre, but I don’t even think that’s the right word — let’s just say it was an unorthodox year. The Leafs’ AHL affiliate finished fourth in a five-team Canadian Division with a 16-17-0-2 record.
As it is now the end of their season, that means it’s report cards time.
Throughout this article, I’ll be grading many of the forwards who played for Toronto this season, which will involve the rookies, veterans and some late newcomers who joined the team this year.
The Toronto Offense – B
The team had an up and down season which brought a lot of adversity to the hockey club. There were some stretches that had them look like one of the best teams in the AHL, and then other times where their inexperience appeared a little bit. For a lot of the season, Toronto’s lineup …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Nation Network World Under-18 Medal Round Recap

Well, that was fun. The World Under-18 Championships came to an end last night in a great gold medal game that saw Canada and Russia renew their rivalry for world supremacy, at under-18 hockey. Canada faced off against Sweden in their semi-final and handled them quite easily, although not as easily as their 12-1 win in the round-robin. With super-prospect Connor Bedard leading the way with a hat trick, goaltender Ben Gaudreau making 16 of 17 saves, and captain Shane Wright, the Canadian kids blew out the Swedes 8-1. It’s not often you can blow out a team twice in the same tournament but it’s not often that the Canadian roster is as loaded as this one is.
In whats become the norm in Group B, the other semi-final was much more dramatic. The Russian squad, powered by their own super-prospect Matvei Michkov, looked to be one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the tournament. Having played the Finns in the round-robin – Russia’s sole loss at the U18s – they knew what to expect. With a pair of goals from captain Nikita Chibrikov and Ivan Miroshnichenko, as well as Michkov pitching in, the Russian team went up 6-3 …

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Author: Tony Ferrari / The Leafs Nation

Alek Manoah’s Triple-A debut was insane

Alek Manoah’s last professional game came in August of 2019 for the Rookie League Vancouver Canadians.

After spending last summer at the Blue Jays’ Alternate Training Site, Manoah skipped pretty much the entire minor leagues and was placed on the Triple-A Bisons to start the 2021 season. If there was any worry Manoah wasn’t ready for this level of competition, he erased them in his debut.
Manoah went six innings scattered just two hits and collected a whopping 12 strikeouts. As impressive as Nate Pearson’s eight strikeouts were back on Tuesday, this was really something else.

A dozen will do for #Bisons @Alek_Manoah47
— Buffalo Bisons🦬 (@BuffaloBisons) May 7, 2021

Manoah was really good for the Blue Jays in spring training and he prompted a whole lot of “CALL HIM UP” sentiments from fans. I really don’t think he’s all that far away from contributing at the big-league level. We could see a Hyun Jin Ryu, Nate Pearson, Robbie Ray, Manoah, and Steven Matz starting rotation in a few months.
Some other minor-league stuff of note from Thursday…

The Thunder-Bisons put up 10 runs on Boston’s Triple-A team and are now 3-0 on the season. There …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Three Stars: Matthews and the Leafs handily defeat the Canucks

Another day, another Leafs victory.
Toronto came into this game looking to further cement their spot atop the North Division while the Canucks were trying desperately to squeak into the playoffs. The game proved to be an exciting affair, but only for one of those teams.
Tanner Pearson opened the scoring off a faceoff from a bad angle and they rode that momentum by piling up the shots. Sheldon Keefe did not like what he was seeing and gave his captain a long talk about the play and what should have been done differently.
It seemed to have paid off as the Leafs soon with Auston Matthews finishing off a nice feed from Mitch Marner off the rush to even things up. Early in the second, Marner stole the puck to set up Matthews’ 38th goal of the season and put his team in front for the rest of the game. Things started to balance out as both teams traded chances and kept the score close, but that all changed in the third period.
It started off with Adam Brooks getting a piece of Justin Holl’s shot from the point that Thatcher Demko had little shot of stopping. Then …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

A disappointing weekend in Kansas City is capped off by limp bats and some “WTF, Charlie?” moments

Yet again, the Blue Jays came out of an impressive series win against the Yankees and gave it all back by underperforming against a mediocre opponent. The Royals win the finale by a score of 2-0, the Blue Jays drop the series 3-1, and they now sit at 7-9 for the season.

Things worth mentioning…

Robbie Ray made his second start of the season and it was a really weird one. Despite walking six batters, Ray managed to walk the tightrope and not allow a single run over five innings of work. Out of 92 pitches thrown, he only generated 41 swings, and only 13 whiffs, which is pretty unusual for a strikeout guy like Ray. Even when he’s walking a lot of guys, as he was today, Ray generally still gets more whiffs than that.

After Ray came out of the game, we got a big-time “what the fuck, Charlie?” moment. Tim Mayza came out and pitched a scoreless sixth, and then Montoyo opted to bring in T.J. Zeuch to face the middle of Kansas City’s order in the seventh. Zeuch allowed a double on his first pitch and then allowed Sal Perez to smash a two-run bomb to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Lakers beatdown serves as a brutal reminder that this isn’t a playoff team

Toronto Raptors: Lakers beatdown serves as a brutal reminder that this isn’t a playoff team

The Toronto Raptors came into their game against the Los Angeles Lakers feeling good for the first time in what feels like forever. Not only did they demolish the Golden State Warriors, but they won at the buzzer against the Washington Wizards just a night ago. With no LeBron James or Anthony Davis for the […]
Toronto Raptors: Lakers beatdown serves as a brutal reminder that this isn’t a playoff team – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Friedman’s thoughts on Leafs being “all in” and more

The majority of the Leafs news on Tuesday came directly from Kyle Dubas (covered here), the Leafs are aggressively searching for help sooner rather than later, it’s likely to be a forward, a rental, and in addition to that, the Leafs placed Jimmy Vesey on waivers and have a number of players returning from Europe to the Marlies. We’re trying to make sense of it, but so are the insiders. Here are Elliotte Friedman’s thoughts on the Leafs this week.
1. Toronto’s Kyle Dubas confirms he’s all in. The last two weeks haven’t been great, but the vast majority of the season’s been strong. He’s going for the best forward he can get and their top prospects are on the table. No Boston or Tampa Bay until at least the third round. Crazy not to take the leap.
Rough skid be damned, Dubas is still eying the ultimate prize, and for the sounds of things it’s going to come at a steep price. Top prospects being on the table is a tough pill to swallow, especially when Dubas has also been promoting the idea of bringing in rentals. Not having Nick Robertson …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Lmao McDavid got shut out by Michael Hutchinson

Much like Saturday’s game, the Oilers came out of the gate with a lot of pressure and gave Leafs fans some scares early on, but once again, it was the Leafs who opened the scoring, as Morgan Rielly made an excellent cross seam pass to Zach Hyman, who dangles around Mikko Koskinen and scores on the Leafs first shot of the game.

First shot of the game and it’s a goal!
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 2, 2021

They followed it up quickly with another as William Nylander fought off Evan Bouchard and wired a backhander top shelf past Koskinen to make it 2-0.

— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 2, 2021

The Oilers would finally get a powerplay later in the first after not having a single one on Saturday, but it would last all of three seconds as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tripped up Justin Holl to make it 4-on-4. Another penalty to the Oilers would give the Leafs their first power play of the game, and they would capitalize on it as Rielly would fire a shot that deflected off of Darnell Nurse and squeak through Koskinen’s pads to give the Leafs a 3 …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation