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

Bluelines: Why not us?

I wonder if second round elimination games are as stressful as first round ones. I hope we get to find out soon. Right now this feels all too familiar and while the story has consistently played out one way, today I’m betting on the script being flipped.
Emotional hedging is over
Sure, the payout is a little sweeter for Tampa with a +110 Moneyline vs. the Leafs -131, but why would you want to be that person? If you were emotionally hedging you’ve had six other games to do so, and now is the time to bank on the Leafs. Make the victory sweeter, rather than searching for a consolation prize (unless this is an attempt to offset the cost of Game 7 tickets, then do what you’ve got to do.)
The biggest stars have to shine
If (read: When) the Leafs win tonight it will need to be on the strength of their star players. Anytime goals from the big four are as follows:
Auston Matthews: -120
Mitch Marner: +175
William Nylander: +195
John Tavares: +220
With the way Tavares has been going, and the better payout, that’s the one I’m going with tonight.
It was never going to be easy
While I’m counting on a Leafs win, it’s still the Leafs and expect to be biting my nai …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Raptors fans react to Joel Embiid, 76ers playoff elimination

Raptors fans react to Joel Embiid, 76ers playoff elimination

The Toronto Raptors fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games during their first-round playoff series. Still, Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers could not use that momentum as a springboard to championship success in the conference semifinals. Kyle Lowry, former 76er Jimmy Butler, and the Miami Heat had minimal issues knocking Philly out of contention in […]
Raptors fans react to Joel Embiid, 76ers playoff elimination – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

3 biggest areas of need for the Toronto Raptors this offseason

3 biggest areas of need for the Toronto Raptors this offseason

Despite losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games during the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Toronto Raptors had a successful season in 2021-22. The Raptors clinched the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, Scottie Barnes won Rookie of the Year, and Fred VanVleet is an All-Star this year. Considering that this […]
3 biggest areas of need for the Toronto Raptors this offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Pirasanth Gunasekaram / Raptors HQ

Fortnight on the Farm, Vol. 2

With just 25-30 games (depending mostly on rain) played in the 2022 minor-league season, it’s obviously still early to make more than the most tentative assumptions about any given player.

We know from past experience that any given player can have a very hot – or cold – a couple of weeks at any given time and these are magnified when they fall in the first month or so of the season. But sometimes you can pair up what you know from past performance or scouting reports to lend a certain context to early observations. Like last time, there’s no point in being exhaustive this early, I’ll just look at noted prospects, seeming breakouts, or rate trends that jump off the stat sheet.
Dunedin Blue Jays
The D-Jays are sporting several good-to-great early pitching lines. Both known names and some unexpected performances. Chief among those of course is hard-throwing lefty Ricky Tiedemann, drafted just last year, who may already be too good for this level. In 25 IP, he’s given up just 8 hits and struck out 39.  There’s also Dahain Santos, a smaller built RHP who’s been used in relief but in multi-inning stints which mark him as an eventual starter, which he’s earned with his 31K/8BB ratio in 16 IP.
You may also know the name R …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

The legend of Alejandro Kirk continues to grow

It’s hard to be anything but pleased with the run of games Alejandro Kirk has put together this season.

And earlier today against the Boston Red Sox, he just kept rolling not only catching for The Big Man, Alek Manoah, but by putting together some formidable at-bats.
He went 2 for 4 in the matinee — one of which being an RBI single in the 3rd giving the Jays their lone score of the day. On top of it all, he extended his at-bats without a strike streak to 41 at-bats, the longest active in the MLB. On the season, he’s been struck out just four times all of which coming over the first five games of the season.
According to baseball savant, his K% and Whiff% are in the 99th percentile, while his B% sits in the 87th. That B%, however, sits at 14.8 percent — a 4.7 percent increase over last year.

On the season, he’s slashing .265/.362/.265 recording 13 hits, two RBI’s and a spicy eight walks — a number second to that of Vladimir Guererro Jr. His slugging percentage is down .192 from his last year and that should improve, while his on-base percentage is a sliver higher than last year.
His versatility has played a part, too. He’s designated hit twice, while also pinch-hitting on three occasions. In 10 at-bats, he’s had one hit, a sac fly RBI and one walk.
Nonetheless, Kirk’s ability to get on base and most importantly, not get struck out, has been tremendous for the club in a time where they’re battling some bumps and bruises. Can you ask for much more from him at this point?
It goes without saying that it’s a long season, and a guy like Kirk is making a good case to stick around and see regular at-bats. Along with Zack …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Erik Kallgren hasn’t been stellar lately, but he’s the best backup option currently available

Erik Kallgren is now 11 games into his NHL career and to say it has been quite the adventure would be putting it mildly.
When he was called upon to make his NHL debut against the Coyotes on March 10th with his team down big, few could have envisioned the positive impact he would bring to a team that was desperate for some stability in the crease. Surrendering a combined three goals in his first three appearances (including a shutout in his debut start), he made good on the chance he earned through a strong showing with the Marlies this season.
Kallgren wasn’t supposed to take over the crease for good since it’s not often a rookie netminder can maintain strong play through his first stint in the NHL. He was given an extended look because of Petr Mrazek’s inconsistent play and subsequent injury, and because there aren’t many other options available once Jack Campbell was cleared to return.
But since his start against the Hurricanes on March 17th, there has only been one appearance where Kallgren posted a save percentage above .900 (April 9th against the Canadiens). Six of those appearances have resulted in a SV% of .870 or lower, and all but one of those games saw him concede at least three goals.
This has been a rough eight-game stretch that has culminated in an uninspiring stat line of 3.70 GAA, a .867 SV%, and a 4-3-1 record. Is Kallgren simply going through a funk or is this who he is?

Scotiabank Arena loves Erik Kallgren pic.twitter.com/TloxQPxZDZ
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 16, 2022

For every Jordan Binnington, Matt Murray, and Andrew Hammond who made an immediate impact that carried their team to great heights, there are countless other examples of other rookie goalies who take some time to adj …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs ‘no-show’ against Sabres in what has become a common theme against non-playoff teams

The Toronto Maple Leafs had another one of those games again.
After flying high against some of the top teams in the NHL, they fell flat against the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, in what was their third consecutive loss to the 27-37-11 team.
“It’s four games against this team and we’ve been no-shows in all four,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the game.
In fact, it was difficult, if not predictable to watch. Outside of Saturday’s 3-2 home victory against the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs have regularly fallen flat against teams on the outside of the playoffs picture.
Even in victories, Toronto hasn’t looked good against those opponents.
Toronto opened up their four-game road trip 10 days ago against the struggling Philadelphia Flyers. Although they defeated them 6-3, they were badly out-chanced and Philly finished the game with a 55.96 expected goal percentage at 5-on-5 per NaturalStatTrick.com.
So is it just difficult for the Leafs to get up for those opponents?
“I really don’t think it’s that,” Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said. “It’s hard to believe but I do think we’re ready to play, it’s just a matter of execution and we’re just having a tough time for whatever reason.”
The situation has put management in a difficult spot.
The Leafs are in a battle for playoff position right now and with the Florida Panthers defeating the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, it’s lookin …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs’ Muzzin and Campbell ‘less than 100 per cent’, Kallgren to start vs. Sabres

Three games removed from his return to the ice following his second concussion of the season, Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Muzzin will sit out of the team’s next game on Tuesday at home to the Buffalo Sabres.
“He’s dealing with some right now not related to what he just returned from but he’s dealing with something again,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said following practice on Monday. “He’s less than 100 per cent here and needs a couple of days to settle down a little bit. He’s not going to play tomorrow, but we’re hopeful and expecting he’ll be available after that.”
Muzzin was a full participant during practice. He skated as the seventh defenceman as Toronto experimented with new defensive pairs.
Morgan Rielly skated on the top pair with Timothy Liljegren. They last skated together at the 2022 Heritage Classic on Mar. 13 against the Sabres. TJ Brodie will play with Justin Holl. The middle pair has had some success working together when Brodie was first moved off of the right side to play on the left, the same as his shooting side. Mark Giordano will skate with Ilya Lyub …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said Aaron Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million contract extension

There are 13 baseball games on the slate tonight, but, naturally, the New York Yankees are grabbing headlines.

Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman spoke to reporters today ahead of New York’s season-opener this afternoon against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium and said that the team and Aaron Judge haven’t been able to come to terms on a contract extension.
He even outright said in the interview that the Yankees offered the slugger a seven-year contract worth $213.5 million, which is $30.5 million annually. Judge, of course, is eligible to hit the open market as a free agent for the first time in his career following the 2022 season.

Brian Cashman says the #Yankees offer was $30.5 million per year. pic.twitter.com/xuyWDNaqtq
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) April 8, 2022

After an injury-riddled 2020 season, Judge had a huge bounceback season for the Yankees in 2022, slashing a .287/.373/.544 line with 39 dingers over the course of 633 plate appearances. Judge finished fourth in American League MVP voting, his best finish since his breakout season in 2017 in which he won AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in MVP voting.
Since 2017, Judge ranks fourth in baseball in terms of FanGraphs’ wins above replacement, behind only Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Jose Ramirez. The contract would make Judge the second-highest-paid outfielder in terms of average annual salary, but the $213.5 million total falls short of the $365 million deal that Betts signed with the Dodgers and the $426.5 million deal Trout inked with the Angels.
Given Judge’s durability concerns and the fact he’s not likely to stick in the outfield for long, he isn’t going to be able to command the same money as Betts and Trout, who are both elite …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation