Blue Jays News Dump: Gabriel Moreno moves up MLB’s Top 100 list, Charlie Montoyo defends bullpen decisions, and more!

The Blue Jays won four of six games on their homestand but it never really felt as though they won either series.

They won the first two games against both the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds and then came up short when they had a chance to sweep. The issue with not taking care of business against these teams is the schedule is again getting difficult and those “easy” wins were supposed to pad some possible impending losses.
The team is currently in St. Louis for a two-game set with the Cardinals, they’ll then play four with the Angels in Anaheim, and then they’ll host the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. These are all teams that either occupy a playoff spot or are in the mix for one.
In the first game of the series on Monday, the Blue Jays edged out a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning thanks to back-to-back bases loaded walks from George Springer and Santiago Espinal. Immediately after that, Jose Berrios allowed a home run to make the score 3-2 and he then allowed a pair of singles. Adam Cimber came into the game and allowed a game-tying single but escaped the jam thanks to a double play.
The Blue Jays didn’t score in the top ha …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Why the Maple Leafs should keep the core-four intact heading into next season

Keeping the core four together — some like the idea, others don’t.
After another first-round playoff exit by the Maple Leafs, I can understand both sides of the argument. If Toronto keeps losing, it doesn’t make sense to keep going with the same players over and over again. However, there’s always the possibility that these four have success in a Maple Leafs uniform.
It just might take some time and patience.
Do you want to keep going down one hallway until you find the magic door that takes you to the promise land or do you want to open a door halfway down with the possibility of inching forwards or backwards?
If you want to test the door halfway, you’re likely someone who wouldn’t be opposed to trading a player like William Nylander. If you’d like to wait, well, your perspective aligns with those of Maple Leafs’ management.
There were two sayings said by GM Kyle Dubas and President Brendan Shanahan that stood out to me during their final media availability of the season. They’re not trading someone for the sake of it and that they’re core is bigger than just the four players.
We classify Nylander, Auston …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Knies contract watch, Robertson running hot, Leafs sign Ellis & Rindell

With the Frozen Four coming to a conclusion, everyone in Toronto is awaiting a decision on whether Matthew Knies will turn pro or return for another year of college hockey but the Leafs didn’t sit around twiddling their thumbs last week, signing a couple of other prospects to entry level deals.
In addition to bringing in a couple of new recruits, the Leafs’ system saw a pair of players earn NCAA All-American honors, and a handful of other prospects had their seasons come to an end.
Let’s get to it.
Matthew Knies | W | Minnesota (NCAA)
Matthew Knies contract watch is officially underway after his Gophers were defeated by Minnesota State in the national semifinal. The Leafs’ 2021 second-rounder got his club out to an early lead but that was all the scoring Minnesota would be able to muster in their final game of the season.

Matt Knies and Bryce Brodzinski head in on a 2-on-0 rush and Knies finishes it to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.#LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/Loochly1ke
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) April 8, 2022

Though it didn’t end the way he had hoped, Knies had a monster freshman season on one of the NCAA’s best teams. He finished the campaign with 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 33 games – good enough for fifth-best among all NCAA players drafted in 2021, just behind first-round picks Kent Johnson and Matthew Coronato. With that kind of production and the way he was able to impose his physical will as a first-year college player, Leafs fans are understandably excited about the idea of Knies turning pro thi …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Matthew Knies and Nick Abruzzese link up for goal in win over Germany

The final day of the Men’s preliminary round in Beijing had four games and they did not disappoint.
Early in Beijing saw Slovakia take on Latvia, a bit later we had Sweden taking on Finland, and early in the morning we had a set of games — Canada vs. China and USA against Germany.
One of the things I like about the Olympics is that every team makes it past the preliminary round. With teams getting the chance to play elimination hockey, it makes it more exciting.
More teams risking it all — I love that.
Slovakia vs. Latvia
Each of these games today had something special to offer if you’re a Maple Leafs fan, especially this one.
Slovakia ended up defeating Latvia in regulation, but it was the first goal of the game which got it started.
And that goal was scored by former Maple Leaf, Martin Marincin.

#hockey: Martin Marincin y va d’un tir avec des yeux qui va tromper la vigilance du gardien letton. C’est 1-0 Slovaquie#rcolympiques #beijing2022 pic.twitter.com/sJN6SRwysT
— Radio-Canada Sports (@RC_Sports) February 13, 2022

With a 5-2 win, Slovakia gets their first points of the tournament and places them in third for the qualification round.
Finland vs. Sweden
The winner of this game would finish in first place in Group C during the preliminary round.
A lot of players related to the Maple Leafs were in this one. On Sweden, there’s prospect, Pontus Holmberg, who unfortunately didn’t get much ice-time during this game. For Finland, you’ve got Leo Komarov, Mikko Lehtonen, and Miro Aaltonen.
In terms of players related to Toronto, not much happened.
Going into the third period, Sweden had a 3-0 lead. Finland came storming back, scoring their second goal with five minutes remaining in the game. With less than three minutes left, Finland scored the game-tying goal. Lehtonen, who led all Team Finland players in ice-time had the secondary assist on it.
The game went to overtime and Harri Pesonen scored two minutes in and won the game for Finland.

HARRI PESONEN!!! RUOTSI ON KAADETTU!!#olympialaiset #peking2022 #olympiakisat #leijonat pic.twitter.com/FS5FCUe3MK
— discovery+ sport (@dplussportfi) February …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Josh Ho-Sang gets first point at Olympics as Canada falls to Team USA

Wow. Day four of Men’s Hockey at the 2022 Olympics didn’t disappoint.
The preliminary round is two-thirds of the way finished and today’s matchups were Canada vs. United States, Germany against China, the ROC taking on Czechia, and Switzerland facing Denmark.
A lot of hype was around the Canada-USA game due to the exciting players on both sides. On Canada, you have Josh Ho-Sang, Mason McTavish, Owen Power, and Kent Johnson. For the United States, there was Matthew Knies, Nick Abruzzese, Matty Beniers, and Jake Sanderson.
The other games, though, didn’t disappoint either.
Canada vs. USA
We have to start with the first game on the schedule, which happens to be Canada vs. USA.
Like I said, there was a lot of hype around this game. Both countries are the dominant teams in the tournament so far, but it’s always nice to get a taste of similar competition. And the fact that some players on Canada and the US play with each other in College or in Europe is pretty cool too.
It was a great start for Canada, who opened the scoring just 1:24 into the game. A shot by Mat Robinson had eyes and found the back of the net.

GOAL
Canada takes an early 1-0 lead over the U.S. on a goal from Mat Robinson with a little help from Josh Ho-Sang and Eric Staal pic.twitter.com/BigSViY7nQ
— CBC Olympics (@CBCOlympics) February 12, 2022

Josh Ho-Sang’s gets his first-ever point at the O …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Hawks Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 4

Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Hawks Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 4

The Toronto Raptors have picked up four straight wins, including a pair of overtime victories against Eastern Conference contenders in Miami and Chicago. The latest Raptors odds seem to suggest that this team will make it five in a row against a Southeast opponent. The Raptors will once again take on Trae Young’s Atlanta Hawks. […]
Raptors Game Tonight: Raptors vs Hawks Odds, Starting Lineup, Injury Report, Predictions, TV Channel for Feb. 4 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors Fans Need to Place This Bet on Gary Trent Jr. Against the Bulls

Raptors Fans Need to Place This Bet on Gary Trent Jr. Against the Bulls

The Toronto Raptors have won four of their last five games, including three straight, heading into Thursday’s clash with the Chicago Bulls. Gary Trent Jr. has been a huge part of this recent surge, as he’s caught fire from deep and become a scoring machine. Trent’s current groove, coupled with the Bulls coming into tonight’s […]
Raptors Fans Need to Place This Bet on Gary Trent Jr. Against the Bulls – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Isaiah De Los Santos / Raptors HQ

News from the Rink: Leafs’ Campbell, Brodie, Dermott, Keefe, Carbery exit COVID protocols

With four days remaining until the Leafs’ next game, more players have left COVID protocols and are back at practice.
Over the last few days, there have been plenty of transactions between the Leafs and Marlies. If I had to pick a day that had the most, I believe today would be that day.
Let’s start with the players who are at Leafs’ practice today.

Players participating in Dec. 28 practice:
Forwards: Anderson, Bunting, Clifford, Engvall, Kaše, Kerfoot, Marner, Matthews, Ritchie, Simmonds, Spezza, Tavares
Defencemen: Biega, Brodie, Dahlström, Dermott, Holl, Král, Liljegren, Rubīns
Goalies: Campbell, Scott
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) December 28, 2021

There are a few players who’ve returned to practice today, and that list includes Jack Campbell, Travis Dermott, and TJ Brodie. Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, and assistant coach, Spencer Carbery, also returned to practice today.
With three Leafs regulars returning, a few others have been sent back to the Marlies.
Those players include Alex Steeves, Brett Seney, and Joseph Woll.
But wait, there’s more! As those three return to the Marlies, Kristians Rubins gets the recall to the Leafs’ taxi squad. Toronto currently has Kyle Clifford, Alex Biega, Filip Kral, Carl Dahlstrom, Joey Anderson …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

NHL postpones Leafs vs. Canucks, Sunday game vs. Seattle

The Leafs, who have four players on the COVID protocol list will not be taking on the Vancouver Canucks tonight. They also won’t be facing the Seattle Kraken tomorrow, either.

Tomorrow’s visit to Seattle is postponed too. The only other #leafs game currently scheduled before the NHL’s holiday break is Thursday afternoon vs. St. Louis at home. https://t.co/8cPg2Q1Yiu
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) December 18, 2021

It’s been an interesting 24 hours throughout the NHL. At this moment in time, four teams have been shutdown until after Christmas — Calgary, Colorado, Florida, and Nashville.
Toronto cancelled their practice yesterday due to precautionary reasons after John Tavares and Alexander Kerfoot entered COVID protocols.
Later that night, the Leafs announced that Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza have also entered COVID protocols. Toronto recalled Alex Steeves and Carl Dahlstrom from the Marlies so they would have enough players to play tonight’s game.
But the game isn’t happening anymore, thankfully.
On Vancouver’s side, Tyler Myers was placed into COVID protocols today. With already four players and one of their assistant coaches, Myers is the fifth player to go on the list.
The Canucks’ game tomorrow vs. the Arizona Coyotes will …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays add Hagen Danner, Bowden Francis, Zach Logue, and Leo Jimenez to the 40-man roster

The Blue Jays added four prospects to their 40-man roster on Friday, which represented the deadline to protect players from being eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

The prospects are… RHP Hagen Danner, RHP Bowden Francis, LHP Zach Logue, and INF Leo Jimenez. The team also claimed RHP Shaun Anderson off of waivers from the San Diego Padres.
Danner was the Blue Jays’ second-round pick in the 2017 draft. He was originally a catcher, but, after a poor hitting season for the Lansing Lugnuts in Low-A in 2019, the Blue Jays converted him into a pitcher. In his first season on the mound, Danner posted impressive numbers with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, including a 2.02 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts per nine.
Francis is the pitching prospect that the Blue Jays got back in the trade that sent Rowdy Tellez to Milwaukee and Trevor Richards to Toronto. Francis pitched 132 2/3 innings over 25 starts between Double- and Triple-A in 2021, posting a 3.93 ERA all told.
Logue was a ninth-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2017. He had unimpressive numbers in 2019 but saw a velocity uptick after working at the team’s Alternate Training Site in 2020. Logue’s results improved quite a bit in 2021, as he put up a …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation