Can we close this thing out please?

They just never make it easy, do they.
In the salary cap era, the Leafs have played six playoff series’, and have played in six games where they can eliminate their opponent and move on to the next round. They have lost all six games. Four of those six are in game sevens, so the other team has just as much to lose, but this is the second time they’ve had an opportunity to close out a series before game seven, the other one being game six (in Toronto!) against Boston in 2019.
There’s no doubt that this series is different than the other ones. For starters, this is the best team the Leafs have iced out of the six playoff series’, and not just that, but they’re playing arguable their weakest opponent of the six. Columbus is debatable, but the skill gap wasn’t as big as it is in this series. On paper, this team should win this series, and not even need a game seven.
But, it’s the Leafs. They always have a habit of messing things up, and no matter how unlikely it seems, it’s always inevitable.
If this team wants to …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: 3 surprise free agents who could sign 1-year deals

Toronto Raptors: 3 surprise free agents who could sign 1-year deals

The Toronto Raptors’ offseason has only just started and the rumor mill has already begun to swirl when it comes to the draft, free agency, and trades this organization should pursue. There are tons of names being thrown out there when it comes to all aspects of this offseason and some are much more realistic […]
Toronto Raptors: 3 surprise free agents who could sign 1-year deals – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jack Long / Raptors HQ

Minor League Notes: Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch return, Logan Warmoth is now on the radar, and more!

What a heartbreaking pair of games we’ve just witnessed.

The Blue Jays squandered a ninth-inning lead to the Red Sox on Thursday with a bunch of Boston fans booing them at their own home park and then they lost on a grand slam in extra innings to the Rays on Friday night. Ugly, ugly stuff!
Rather than re-live those nightmares, let’s take a look at the farm for some positive news…

There’s no doubt that the Blue Jays badly need pitching reinforcements. They really only have three starting pitchers right now and the bullpen, who did a miraculous job navigating injuries for the past month, is clearly starting to burn out. Thankfully, there seems to be help on the way. Thomas Hatch made his 2021 debut for the Thunder-Bisons on Thursday, allowing one earned run in three innings on three hits, zero walks, and four strikeouts. Hatch, of course, is currently on the 60-day Injured List and will be eligible to join the Blue Jays at the end of May. I’m not sure he’s a solution for the starting rotation but having him in that same multi-inning bullpen role again would be helpful.
Nate Pearson is …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

The Springer-less Blue Jays head to Houston

Marcus Semien just had a nice homecoming in Oakland in which the team honoured him with a touching video tribute. This would have been George Springer’s triumphant return to Houston, but he’ll have to wait until next season for his video tribute and ovation from Astros fans as he’s back on the Injured List.

How they’re doing…
The Astros have been a strange team this season. They own a record 16-15 despite sitting in the top third in baseball in both runs per game and runs allowed per game.
Houston kicked their season off with an absolutely dominant four-game sweep of the A’s in Oakland, scoring 35 runs in the process. Since then, though? They’ve had a pretty uninspiring month that featured a whole bunch of losses to some pretty bad teams. The Astros got swept by the Tigers at home and dropped both games in a two-game set to the Rockies in Denver. Most recently, they narrowly avoided getting swept by the struggling Yankees in New York.
The Astros’ offence is firing along just fine, with Yuli Gurriel, Yordan Alvarez, and Blue Jays legend Michael Brantley carrying the load, and every member of their …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays call up rookie catcher Riley Adams

The Blue Jays just made a whole bunch of roster moves.

Heading to the Injured List are Alejandro Kirk, Tommy Milone, and Anthony Castro. Coming up in their places are Ross Stripling, who was activated from the 10-day Injured List, and Riley Adams and Anthony Kay, who have been called up from Triple-A.
The most interesting add here, of course, is Adams, the No. 18 prospect in the Blue Jays system. Adams was drafted by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2017 draft and has largely flown under the radar due the organization having more highly-touted names in the system, like Kirk and Gabe Moreno, plus a couple of young catchers already at the big-league level in Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire.
Adams has put together some nice seasons in the minors and ultimately proved enough that the team added him to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft a few months ago. Most recently, he spent the 2019 season between New Hampshire and Dunedin, slashing an impressive .261/.366/.443 line with 14 homers across 415 plate appearances.
Here’s his profile, via MLB Pipeline…
Adams has a rare physical profile for a catcher at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, which led many to question his …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

How Morgan Rielly has done against North Division competition

It was just over a month ago that I decided to explore what the Leafs have in Morgan Rielly. The reality then is the same as it is today, Rielly is a talented offensive defenseman, that will always let us wanting more from him in his own zone. I think everything was summed up pretty well there, and my ultimate that the Leafs need to move from him over the summer remains unchanged.
A lot of that was looking at Rielly heading into the trade deadline, and now we find ourselves in a different situation, and that’s looking at how much of a liability Rielly will be heading into the playoffs from a defensive perspective, and if his offence outweighs that issue. At no point am I going to attempt to make a case that Rielly doesn’t belong in the Leafs top six. No matter how you slice it, Rielly deserves to be in the lineup, but as line matching increases, does Rielly need to be deployed differently, and is T.J. Brodie the ideal defensive partner for him?
Rielly’s defense against top competition
At this point the North Division playoff teams are pretty much set. Unless …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

William Nylander isolating after possible exposure to positive COVID case

Just hours before the Leafs were set to take on the Canadiens Wednesday night, the team announced that William Nylander would be held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons after being exposed to a possible positive COVID case with a close contact outside the team.

For precautionary reasons, William Nylander will not play tonight vs Montreal as he has had exposure to a possible positive case with a close contact outside the team. Nylander is isolating and the situation will be re-evaluated tomorrow pending the results of further testing.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) April 7, 2021

It is important to note that as of now, there has been no positive test reported in the case of Nylander himself and he is isolating away from the team pending the results of further testing. The hope of course is that it is a false alarm and Nylander will be fine but preventing this from becoming a full blown outbreak like we have seen in Vancouver over the last few weeks has to be the top priority.
After consulting with the league, it has been determined that Wednesday’s contest with the Canadiens will go ahead as planned so hopefully that means the league is …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors sign Freddie Gillespie: How does he fit in on this team?

Toronto Raptors sign Freddie Gillespie: How does he fit in on this team?

Just a few days ago, former Baylor star Freddie Gillespie was in Indianapolis watching his alma mater make their run to the national championship. On Wednesday, however, Gillespie received word that his NBA dream will continue, as the Toronto Raptors are bringing in the rim protector on a short-term deal. Gillespie, an All Big-12 and […]
Toronto Raptors sign Freddie Gillespie: How does he fit in on this team? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Diesel Engine wasn’t anywhere near fired up as the Blue Jays get dropped in Texas

That went just about as well as you’d have expected it to. The Blue Jays, on Tanner Roark day, take the loss by a score of 7-4.

Things worth mentioning…

I was willing to give Tanner Roark the benefit of the doubt after a miserable 2020 season given the fact that there wasn’t a normal spring training before the 60-game sprint and a lot of pitchers struggled because of it. But, this season, Roark had ample time to get the Diesel Engine rolling (he allowed 10 earned runs in 10 2/3 spring innings) and he still got lit up by a hapless Rangers offence on Tuesday. Roark got clubbed for five earned runs on six hits, three of which were homers, and only lasted three innings.

I don’t know how you can put Mayza and Kirk on the roster because you’re only here to win ballgames this year, then give Roark any more than three starts if they’re going to be like this. Maybe two.
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) April 7, 2021

I know it’s just one start but… yeesh. Roark was only able to hit 92 miles-per-hour or higher on the gun three times and his pitches that are supposed to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet proved to be an amazing leader for Nick Nurse on the bench

Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet proved to be an amazing leader for Nick Nurse on the bench

The Toronto Raptors could have just laid down and died against the Washington Wizards, as Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet were out for the 11th-place club, but they ended up taking down Russell Westbrook’s squad thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by new addition Gary Trent Jr. in easily one of the high points of this […]
Toronto Raptors: Fred VanVleet proved to be an amazing leader for Nick Nurse on the bench – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ