Raptors should correct mistake, sign Gary Payton II in offseason

Raptors should correct mistake, sign Gary Payton II in offseason

While former Toronto Raptors G League player Oshae Brissett has had his success, Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II may be the best player that was in the ranks of Raptors 905 and slipped away to another team. Luckily, the Raptors will have a chance to rectify that mistake. Payton was G League Defensive […]
Raptors should correct mistake, sign Gary Payton II in offseason – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Maple Leafs vs. Lightning: Leafs edge the Lightning when it comes to the forward group

The Leafs can go up against most forward groups in the league and end up feeling pretty good about how they measure up to the opposition. Tampa Bay is one of the few teams in the league that does warrant a bit of a closer look, and depending on which group is clicking at the moment either one of these teams could feel they have the best group.
Given that we’re already pretty familiar with who the Leafs have, let’s start by diving into what makes the Tampa group so special.
From a high end production standpoint it was Steven Stamkos taking the reigns this season from Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos found his way over the 40 goal mark again, and crossed the 100 point mark, tying Auston Matthews for 6th in the league in scoring at 106 points, albeit Stamkos played 81 games.
Looking at who is next on the weapons list you have Nikita Kucherov who missed a substantial amount of time again this season and was held to just 69 nice points. The interesting aspect there is he put up those numbers in just 47 games. If he had been healthy he would have been scoring at a McDavid pace.
The next player …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

American League Preview: Let’s try to figure out who’s in the mix for the three Wild Card spots

The American League East is going to be a gauntlet.

FanGraphs projected the Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees to all finish with matching 88-74 records, and even the Orioles might be worth paying some attention to this year.
What about the rest of the American League? Who’s going to win the Central and the West? And what can we expect in the Wild Card race in the new six-team playoff format?
The American League Central…

The Chicago White Sox cruised to the AL Central banner last season as the Minnesota Twins imploded and the other three teams weren’t actively trying to win. It probably won’t be quite so easy this year, but this is still far from a tough division, and it remains insane that Paul Beeston didn’t want the Blue Jays playing here.
The Twins are better because they’ve added Carlos Correa, though their pitching is still a mess, Cleveland is roughly the same because they decided not to actually pony up cash to keep Jose Ramirez around, the Royals are better because they brought back Zack Greinke and have some good young talent on the way, and the Tigers are better because they added Javier Baez, Eduardo Rodriguez, and former top draft pick Spencer Torkelson will be making his debut.
The biggest obstacle for the White Sox will be themselves, as they’re coming out the gate decimated by injuries. Garrett Crochet will miss the year because of Tommy John while Lance Lynn, Yoan Moncada, Yermin Mercedes, and Joe Kelly will all start the season on the Injured List.
The American League West…

The Houston Astros have won the AL West in four of the past five seasons, with the one interruption being the 60-game COVID sprint in 2020 when the Oakland A’s took the crown. Despite losing Correa, their WAR leader, to the Twins and Grenkie, their innings pitched leader, to the Royals, it looks like Houston is again this year’s best bet in the West.
Oakland will most certainly not be in the mix to unseat the Astros this year, as they completely gave up this off-season, trading Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Sean Manaea away for prospects. It’s difficult to imagine the Texas Rangers giving them too much trouble either. They spent $600 million on Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, but that’ll only do so much to improve the team’s 60-win result from last year.
The best two bets to challenge Houston are the Seattle Mariners and L.A. Angels. The Angels are a two-man team with no pitching, but Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani could conceivably combine for like 20 WAR, so maybe they do the unthink …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

3 Raptors who could be removed from Nick Nurse’s playoff rotation

3 Raptors who could be removed from Nick Nurse’s playoff rotation

The Toronto Raptors have announced to the rest of the league that they are a viable playoff team, as Nick Nurse has taken this team from the No. 4 overall pick to (potentially) a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference. His rotation tinkering is one of the main reasons that Toronto has been so surprising […]
3 Raptors who could be removed from Nick Nurse’s playoff rotation – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

PHF Weekend Update: Toronto Six drop into second place at the finish line

After leading the league for about the whole season, the Toronto Six lost their 1st place spot to their weekend opponent, the Connecticut Whale.
The Six were faced with a tough challenge, tied in standings points with the Whale going into the weekend, with 2 games and 6 points on the table. The PHF uses the 3 points per game system, 3 for a regulation win, 2 for an overtime win, and 1 for an overtime win or loss. Much, much better than the NHL’s system, in my opinion.
Anyway, with such an important meeting, the Six were surely psyched up and as prepared as they could be for the challenge.
Saturday March 19th
Here was the Six’s lineup for the weekend. They were without Amy Curlew, and Randi Marcon’s try-out appears to have finished. As such, they went with just 10 forwards and 7 defenders.

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The Six got off to a leading start with an Emma Woods goal off a great feed from Brooke Boquist:

Emma Woods breaks the ice and puts the Six ahead! pic.twitter.com/0hFxT5Bkze
— PHF (@PHF) March 19, 2022

Things were looking good for Toronto when the first period ended with this 1-goal lead. However, early in the second, the Whale’s rookie Taylor Girard got off on a breakaway to tie the game up:

Rookie sensation Taylor Girard ties things up! pic.twitter.com/0e9KN6swtM
— PHF (@PHF) March 19, 2022

The Six got their lead back quickly though, as just a few minutes later Natalie Marcuzzi cleaned up in front of the net, sneaking the puck in while getting knocked over:

Marcuzzi slides it through the five-hole to put Toronto back in the lead! pic.twitter.com/yu5oFuI4CK
— PHF (@PHF) March 19, 2022

The Whale got the game tied …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

First Look at Potential Blue Jays Farm Rosters: High-A Vancouver Canadians

Minor League full-season teams have roster limits, as you might expect.

It’s set at 28 for AAA and AA, and 30 for the two A-ball squads. As things stand, there are at least five too many guys associated with the Bisons’ squad, though of course a certain number of guys will regularly be found on the IL.
I make 30-31 guys contending for the Fisher Cats roster. But the issue is that for both teams there are about 12 candidates for the bullpen which doesn’t fit. That situation only gets worse in Vancouver and, boy, wait until you see the crowd in Dunedin.
As per my pattern, let’s start with the rotation…
Last week I mentioned the two most highly regarded starters on this roster as long-shot promotion candidates. Rather than try to say the same stuff in different terms, let me just quote myself: There are at least two highly regarded prospects who spent time in High-A Vancouver last year that will get at least some consideration for a promotion when camp breaks.
Adam Kloffenstein, still just 21, had a disappointing overall line last year, in a season that had some peaks and some very low valleys. The big issue was the troubling tendency to lose the zone, sometimes in the middle of what had been an impressive start, leading to a 5.4 BB/9 rati …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

The Blue Jays have signed Joe Biagini and Greg Bird to minor-league deals

As Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association slowly inch towards a Collective Bargaining Agreement at a glacial pace, the Blue Jays gave us something to talk about today as they inked two players to minor-league contracts.

First, we’ll talk about the return of an Old Friend, Joe Biagini…

#BlueJays have signed Joe Biagini to a minor league deal.
— Jamie Campbell (@SNETCampbell) March 10, 2022

The Blue Jays originally acquired Biagini from the San Fransisco Giants through the Rule 5 Draft and he wound up playing a key role in the team’s 2016 season as a late-inning reliever. The following season, they tried to convert Biagini back into a starter, but that didn’t work quite so well, as he posted a 5.34 ERA in 2017 over 44 outings, 18 of which were starts.
In 2019, Biagini was sent to the Houston Astros along with Aaron Sanchez and prospect Cal Stevenson in exchange for Derek Fisher. Biagini would wind up only tossing 19 innings for the Astros over two seasons, but he was a part of a combined no-hitter with Sanchez, Will Harris, and Chris Devenski.
Most recently, Biagini spent the 2021 season in the Chicago Cubs organization. He posted a 5.50 ERA in Triple-A over the course of 22 outings, 19 of which were starts, and he had one scoreless three-inning outing at the big league level.
As of right now, the Blue Jays rotation will feature Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Alek Manoah, while Ross Stripling, Nate Pearson, and possibly another off-season addition compete for the fifth spot. The organization has a fairly enigmatic situation when it comes to starting pitchers in the mix for Triple- …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

MLB’s 12-team expanded playoff format should benefit Blue Jays

Expanded playoffs are returning to Major League Baseball this season, and now, we have a pretty good idea as to how many post-season seeds will be included in this new format.
Among the several topics discussed, MLB and the players union appear to have found some common ground regarding the redesigned playoff system that’ll be introduced during the 2022 season. While the owners have been pushing very hard for a 14-team format, the PA has argued that opening the field to nearly half the majors could negatively impact the game’s competitive balance even further.
Up until recently, most owners were strongly against that notion and didn’t seem to be willing to budge off their proposal. But late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, both sides made significant progress towards a compromise involving a 12-team expanded post-season.

Union feels there was headway made on a 12-team expanded postseason, if other pieces fall into place. League willing to do so under certain conditions. @BNightengale on it
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) March 1, 2022

At this current moment, nothing has been finalized just yet, however, it appears the playoffs will more than likely consist of 12 clubs, rather than 14, moving forward. Either way, shifting away from the old system, which included just 10 seeds and an outdated winner-takes-all Wild Card Game, is great news for baseball.
Expanding on this situation, not only is this a fantastic development for the sport, but it should also be extremely beneficial for juggernaut divisions like the American League East. More specifically, this new format has the potential to greatly benefit the Toronto Blue Jays.
After miss …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays Top Prospects Countdown: Pitchers who didn’t crack the Top 20

With the minor league season quickly approaching, it’s time to look at the Blue Jays top 20 prospects, one by one. I can tell you right now that after all 22 articles are released, you will be shocked. There’ll be a lot of names you didn’t expect, but due to their 2021 performance, they deserved a spot.

However, the first two articles in the series will be focusing on the position players and pitchers that missed out. These players make this list for a variety of reasons, such as they aren’t considered a prospect anymore, they’re a new draftee or they’re facing an injury to start the minor league season.
Here are 15 pitchers that missed the list worth keeping an eye on, starting from the Majors and working down to the Rookie Leagues…
Nate Pearson:
Due to the fact that he lost his rookie eligibility last season, Nate Pearson will not rank on the Top 20 list. This doesn’t mean that the 25-year-old flamethrower doesn’t have potential, as he pitched for a 2.84 ERA and 3.72 FIP in 12.2 innings out of the bullpen. Pearson also had an astronomical K/9 of 14.21, finishing with 20 strikeouts in that time frame.
The key to Pearson’s development is that he stays healthy and limits the walks. Nate may never be a regular starter, but the sky’s the limit for him to become an effective reliever.
2022 start: Blue Jays Bullpen
Bow …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Know Your Enemy: How the Maple Leafs match up against a slumping Devils team in a back-to-back

While being one of the best teams in the league usually means the matchups are going to be easier by default, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in another matchup against a significantly inferior opponent in the New Jersey Devils. They had slightly higher expectations after a big offseason, bringing in Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Bernier, and Tomas Tatar, as well as the growth of two first overall picks in Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier but have struggled mightily due to injuries and, well, being the Devils. They come into tonight’s game having lost seven of their last eight, a slump that has kept them behind even the Philadelphia Flyers when they were losing 13 in a row. They’ve only made it to the playoffs once since their Cup Finals run in 2011-12 ten years ago, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case this season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to prove either.
It should be noted that because the Leafs play the Devils in back to back nights, this will probably cover both tonight and tomorrow’s games, unless there’s a big change in the lineup for either team, or something injury related (ie. someone significant gets hurt tonight or …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation