Comparing starting rotations in the American League East

Let’s be real here, the lockout sucks. What else is there to do other than pray that the two sides can get together and figure it out?

Well for me, I can start a nice little debate about the best players in the American League East. We’ll start with which AL East team has the best rotation.

Baltimore Orioles:
The Baltimore Orioles are not good. The Bad Birds of the AL East finished the 2021 season with a record of 52-110, which landed them the first overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft. The team’s one bright spot for starting pitching came by means of a starting pitcher named John Means (pun intended). 
The former 11th round pick pitched 146.2 innings and registered an ERA of 3.62 and an ERA+ of 126. Means also registered a FIP of 4.62, so his independent numbers are slightly worse. However, Means had a K/9 of 8.2 with a BB/9 of 1.6, which are solid numbers. The 28-year-old is under Oriole control until the end of the 2024 season.
The Orange Birds also signed 31-year-old Jordan Lyles to a one-year, 7 million dollar contract before the lockout. For the past two seasons, he played for the Texas Rangers and had an ERA of 7.02 in 2020 and 5.15 in 2021. The Orioles are hoping that he regains his 2018/2019 form where he posted a 4.11 ERA and a 4.15 ERA.
The Orioles have the second smallest payroll, with only $29,416,666 dedicated to the 2022 roster. They have the money to spend, but due to their rebuild, it’s unlikely that they will add anyone of note.
Boston Red Sox:
From the second-lowest payroll to the sixth-highest payroll, the Boston Red Sox unsurprisingly have a better batch of starting pitchers than the O’s.
The most notable of which is 32-year-old Chris Sale. The hard throwing lefty missed all of the 2020 season as well as the majority of the 2021 due to Tommy John Surgery. Despite that, he put up sol …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The opportunity is now for Jack Campbell to lead the Maple Leafs into the future

“For right now, we think there’s an opportunity here for Jack [Campbell] to just run with it.”
Those were the words of Sheldon Keefe after Maple Leafs practice on Monday when talking about the opportunity ahead for Jack Campbell.
As Petr Mrazek continues to work his way back from injury, Campbell remains at the forefront of something he hasn’t had before.
Runway.
If you’ve flown in a plane, you know what I mean. And even if you haven’t, I’m sure you understand.
As the Maple Leafs’ schedule got busier, Campbell’s workload in practice became less. For a player who’s never received this much opportunity, his body needs time to recover, which is why he takes part and then leaves early.
Toronto wants to manage his workload and allow him to have success.
With COVID hitting almost every corner within the Maple Leafs dressing room, it allowed Campbell to get some well-needed rest.
“The break has been significant for Jack,” Keefe said after practice on Monday. “It’s quite rare, or unheard of, for a goalie to get that opportunity to rest and recover. It wasn’t all vacation for him because he’s …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

New Year’s resolutions for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Here we are. We’ve reached the end of the TLN roundtable series that has run throughout the past couple of weeks. And while there are still a few days left in 2021, we thought we’d close out the series with another 2022 question, and one specifically focused on the New Year. Of course that means it’s resolution time, and the question is:
What should the Leafs New Year’s resolution be? (besides win the cup or win a round, please.)
Nick Barden
Staying consistent. I think when you look at this team and what they need to do to win, it’s consistency. Obviously they have to play well, but we’ve seen that they have already throughout the season so far. If there’s anything they can do to help themselves get out of the first round, it’s that.
Joseph Zita
Play better defence and stick to their structure. December hasn’t been ideal for them (as of Dec. 12) and they are clearly not playing the same way they did in November and that is due to poor defensive structure and poor decision making.
Michael Mazzei
Fix Justin Holl or trade him
Roxanne Khasow
Reduce injuries.
Dylan …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What does the future hold for young Leafs? Will Tavares head to China? Is it time for the Leafs to get a dog?

Here we are just past the quarter mark of the season for the Leafs. It was a rough start, but they’ve truly followed it up with something wonderful, and now that we’re in a good place where the Leafs and playing well and we’re not yet to the point where we think about how that will look in the playoffs, we thought we’d take advantage of a happier Leafs audience and answer some questions…

Is it fair to assume that Josh Ho-Sang will be an NHL regular for the Leafs next season?
— Daniel Tiller (@DanielJTiller) November 22, 2021

Nick DeSouza: It might be a bit early to pencil Ho-Sang into next season’s lineup. Of course, lots can change by then but the forward roster should look pretty similar next year. Toronto currently has nine NHL forwards signed for next season; Matthews, Marner, Tavares, Nylander, Kerfoot, Ritchie, Kampf, Bunting, and Simmonds. To add to this, both Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase are RFA’s this offseason and are having pretty good starts to the season so far. Finally, a healthy Nick Robertson, Joey Anderson should also compete for a spot. Ho-Sang has been really good with the Marlies …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Vladdy Jr. and Marcus Semien nominated for AL MVP, Robbie Ray nominated for Cy Young, and Alek Manoah not a finalist for Rookie of the Year

It’s awards season! Here are the Blue Jays who are in the mix…

Robbie Ray:
As I was writing a controversial article, news broke about the player of said article: Robbie Ray is a Cy Young finalist (and likely winner).
In 2020, Ray was not very good. He had a 6.52 ERA and a 6.50 FIP in 51.2 innings between Arizona and Toronto, according to Fangraphs. While his 11.85 K/9 was actually better than his 2021 stat, his BB/9 was an astronomical 7.84, which included a BB/9 of 9 in Arizona.
The Jays were fighting for a postseason berth and took a chance on Robbie Ray, trading Travis Bergen for the 28-year-old pitcher. Although his first 20.2 innings in Toronto (or Buffalo) weren’t even good, he did make improvements.
However, not even I saw his Cy Young season coming.
A year after leading the majors in BB/9, Ray led the American League in ERA (2.48), innings pitched (193.1), ERA+ (154) and WHIP (1.045). Furthermore, he led the entire major leagues in strikeouts with 248. In fact, his 11.2 K/9 is the highest… Like ever.
Robbie Ray pitched like an absolute ace this season and he’ll be paid handsomely a year after winning the Cy Young.
Marcus Semien:
Marcus Semien’s historical season …

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Author: brendonkuhn / Blue Jays Nation

Leaflets: 10 Games, 10 Takes

Here we are at the magical 10 game mark that allows us to begin having opinions on how the season is going. The last three games have done wonders in bringing the Leafs back around to the okayish mark, and we’re no longer panicking about a 2-4-1 team. Now they are the definition of average with a 5-4-1 record that is trending upwards. Of course there hasn’t been a lot to be afraid of in the first 10 games when it comes to competition. The Habs team they played was missing Carey Price and others. The Penguins team (that blew them out) was missing Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Carter. The Blackhawks didn’t start Fleury, and Kane was out. The Golden Knights were without Stone, Karlsson, Pacioretty, Whitecloud, Patrick, and Tuch. Even the Red Wings had to leave Bertuzzi at the border because he values Facebook science over his teammates. Throw in the Tkachuk-less Senators, and it is painfully clear that the 5-4-1 isn’t so much average as it is the bare minimum.
Since we’re at the 10 game mark I feel it’s about time to drop some takes based on the team this season …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Not so spooky Leafs: Halloween edition

The cool weather is here, gourds are a plenty, hockey is finally back, and spooky season is upon us. The Toronto Maple Leafs celebrated Halloween a little early this year according to their social media accounts with a food-themed costume party. Let’s take a look at their costumes and see what some of the Leafs came up with.
Nick Ritchie and Erica

nick ritchie will never not be funny to me but him and his girlfriend, erica, went as colonel sanders/kfc and wendy’s to the leafs halloween party + a bonus blurry wag group photo pic.twitter.com/N1NTrEA8Kl
— claire (@leafswilly) October 21, 2021

Not going to lie, we’re off to a good start with Ritchie’s costume. The pair decided to bring the battle of fast food to life with their Wendy’s and KFC inspired costumes. Add a cloak and a wand, and I feel that Ritchie’s costume could double as a wizard, too.
Alexander Kerfoot, Ilya Mikheyev and Kristina

kerf, ilya & his wife, and nick ritchie went as KFC https://t.co/c8Gy1dpMFP pic.twitter.com/zXU70Hi7yO
— claire (@leafswilly) October 20, 2021

So does this confirm that KFC is the …

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Author: Roxanne Khasow / The Leafs Nation

Leafs day after thoughts: The last chance to battle adversity is upon us

So we’re here. Six games into the Leafs season, coming off a disastrous 7-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. You could say that Toronto lost to a part AHL team.
No Sidney Crosby, no Evgeni Malkin, and no Kris Letang. The Leafs still lost.
A majority of fans have officially hit the panic button, too. That’s understandable. When you have two of the NHL’s biggest stars on your team not contributing with goals, it’s tough. Everyone has their right to be upset at this team.
But some also have the right to still reserve judgement.
The Leafs are an interesting team. You, me, and everyone else knows what they’re capable of. Sometimes they play like they’re a cup contending team, other nights they play like the worst team in the NHL. Usually, there’s no in between.
Expectations were set the day Auston Matthews was drafted. The bar was set even higher when they made it to the playoffs that same year. Yet, the bar hasn’t been cleared five years later.
Many fans have finally had enough. The team hasn’t been able to sell out Scotiabank Arena yet this season. And you …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs make roster cuts as players are assigned to Marlies

And here they come. The Toronto Maple Leafs have made more cuts.

The following players have been assigned to the Toronto Marlies (AHL): F Mikhail AbramovD Joseph DuszakD Noel HoefenmayerD Teemu KivihalmeF Jack KopackaF Jeremy McKennaF Nick Robertson
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) October 5, 2021

Toronto already placed Michael Hutchinson on waivers today, so this comes as a surprise. With two games remaining in the preseason, Toronto decided to assign the younger players to the Marlies first.
The Marlies announced their training camp roster today, and these players will be a massive part of their camp.
Each of these players was expected to be sent down, except for Nick Robertson. You could’ve made a case either way for him, but it looks like he will start the season in the AHL.

Robertson, earlier today, on Marlies possibility: “There’s downs in everyone’s career, and whatever happens, happens. What keeps going is trying to get better and (understand) that I’m going to be a full-time NHL player one day, it’s just a matter of when.” #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) October 5, 2021

Five of the seven players were a part of the Marlies team last year and will likely round out their …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Digging into Hyun Jin Ryu’s recent struggles

Hyun Jin Ryu has been struggling here down the stretch.

Over his last eight starts, he’s pitched to an 8.10 ERA, giving up seven runs in three separate starts. In four starts he failed to make it past the fourth inning.
He’s been putting the team in early deficits and putting more pressure on the bullpen to cover more innings. It hasn’t all been bad for Ryu he did have a couple of good starts in this stretch, shutting out Detroit over seven innings on August 21st, and then shutting down the Yankees over six on September 6th. However his last two starts against Baltimore and Minnesota he gave up 12 runs over 4.1 innings.
For a team in a tight playoff race, you can’t afford to keep pitching Ryu and see if he will figure it out. The Blue Jays have given him a chance to reset and placed Ryu on the 10-day injured list with a strained neck.
When a pitcher like Ryu has stretches like this it’s usually tied to his velocity. Ryu for his career has much more success when his fastball is averaging above 90 miles per hour. His two best starts in this …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation