How Toronto’s trade deadline acquisitions will help in the playoffs

The Maple Leafs made two moves at the NHL level around the trade deadline (three if you include signing Nick Abruzzese). The Leafs also made a trade for Ilya Lyubushkin about a month earlier and traded away Travis Dermott for a third-round pick. Since the deadline has passed, the team has put together a tidy record of 12 wins, five losses, (two of those in overtime,) so clearly, the additions have been successful so far.
Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell were the team’s main additions, and thus far into their respective Leafs’ tenure, both have mainly taken on depth roles, with Blackwell on the fourth line and Giordano on the third pairing. Abruzzese likewise has mainly been a fourth-liner when he’s slotted in. Lyubushkin has had the largest role of any of the newcomers, finding a place alongside Morgan Rielly on the top pairing.
We’ll look at Abruzzese first. Outside of providing depth at the forward position, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he plays a huge role in Toronto’s postseaso …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

It’s one step forward, two steps back for Danny Jansen, who was off to a blazing hot start

For any player, making progress at the highest level of competition is usually accompanied by plenty of hardship, and that’s no different for Toronto Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen. But just as it seemed he was turning a corner, he’s sustained another crushing setback.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s 12-6 loss to the Texas Rangers, Jansen felt some discomfort in his side and ultimately headed for an MRI a day later. Once his results returned, unfortunately, the team was forced into a very tough decision.
Prior to Monday’s series opener in the Bronx, Toronto placed Jansen on the 10-day injured list, recalling Tyler Heineman to serve as the club’s third catcher. To make room for Heineman on the 40-man roster, outfielder Josh Palacios – whose path to the majors is blocked by Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer – was designated for assignment.

ROSTER MOVES:
LHP Anthony Kay recalled from Triple-A and will be active tonight
C Tyler Heineman selected to Major League roster and will be active tonight
C Danny Jansen placed on 10-day IL
LHP Tayler Saucedo optioned to Triple-A
OF Josh Palacios DFA’d pic.twitter.com/LMtLLPuWRj
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 11, 2022

Of all the times to suffer an injury, this latest one couldn’t have come at a worse moment for Jansen. Not only will he be on the shelf for at least 10 days, but all his early momentum that was generated is likely to be lost, as well.
Entering his fifth major league sea …

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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Pre-2022 Blue Jays Top Prospects Countdown – No. 7: Leonardo Jimenez

Despite playing in Low A, his highest level to date, Leo Jimenez was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster. For good reason. The 20-year-old is one of their most enticing infield prospects as his bat and glove are pretty darn good.

Background:
Of course, we’ll start with his background. Jimenez was signed for $825,000 during the 2017 International Free Agency period from Panama.
In his first professional season in 2018, the then 17-year-old slashed .250/.333/.674 without a home run in 150 plate appearances. However, there were signs that the young shortstop had potential, as he walked 10.7% while only striking out 11.3% of the time. Two solid percentages for a 17-year-old already playing in the States.
In 2019, the then 18-year-old slashed .298/.377/.754 in 245 plate appearances, an improvement at the same level he had played a season prior. However, with an increase in batting average, his K% also rose to 17.1% while his BB% decreased to 8.6%. Leo also failed to register a home run in 2019.
Then came the global pandemic, which meant that Jimenez and every other minor league didn’t get to play a 2020 minor league season due to the cancellation. 
With all these numbers in mind, why does Leo Jimenez rank so high?
Jimenez’s 2021:
This is probably the craziest statistic in this series, even more so than Kendry Rojas pitching more in …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Newly signed Maple Leafs’ prospect Dmitry Ovchinnikov joins Marlies for playoff push

Amidst a busy trade deadline at the NHL level, there’s been some news in the AHL for the Marlies organization.
One day shy of a month ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed winger Dmitry Ovchinnikov to a three-year entry-level contract. When Toronto announced the signing, they said the 19-year-old would join the Marlies “immediately upon the approval of his Canadian work permits.”
On Sunday afternoon, Ovchinnikov officially arrived in Toronto, posting this story on his Instagram.

He made it pic.twitter.com/IChjT6X18q
— leafsnationnews (@LNNinstagram) March 13, 2022

Ovchinnikov is coming to North America after spending most of three-straight seasons in the MHL, which is Russia’s junior league. There, he totaled 135 points over a 116 game span. Ovchinnikov did get some time in the KHL, but never got enough ice-time to show what he’s capable of at that level.
The 19-year-old left-winger brings a lot to this Marlies team who’s currently pushing for a Calder Cup playoff berth. From watching him through a development day and practice, you clearly notice that one of his assets is his speed. Ovchinnikov might very well just be the fastest player on the Marlies.
A few other parts of his game that stick out are his stickhandling and shot. One of the more interesting things to see will be how his five-foot-eleven, 163 pound frame translates to the heavy AHL and North American hockey in general.
During Marlies practice on Wednesday, Ovchinnikov spent time both participating in drills and watching line rushes from afar with Josh Ho-Sang and Marc Michaelis. (Michaelis is making his way back from an injury he suffered in November.) At one point, the t …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors merchandise sales still among the very best in the NBA

Toronto Raptors merchandise sales still among the very best in the NBA

The Toronto Raptors might not receive the same level of coverage from large segments of basketball media due to the fact they are a geographically isolated team in Canada, but that doesn’t erase the fact that Ontario has largely united behind them to form one of the most passionate and supportive fanbases in the game. […]
Toronto Raptors merchandise sales still among the very best in the NBA – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Vladdy has arrived. What’s he doing differently now and will it be sustained?

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is playing on another level right now.

A triple slash of .389/.507/.667 is Bonds-esque, his 232 wRC+ ranks fourth in all of baseball behind, Acuna Jr, Trout and Mercedes. His 1.2 WAR is tied for second and matches what Vlad did in 2019 and 2020 combined. What’s most impressive about this stretch isn’t necessarily the power and the big exit velocity, it’s his plate discipline. Vlad has 11 walks and 11 strikeouts. This is the Vlad Guerrero Jr. everyone saw in the minor leagues.
We have never seen Vlad hit this well for this length of time in the big leagues. Seriously, look at his stats by week on this FanGraphs leaderboard; three of the six best weeks of Vlad’s career have been this season.  So what is Vlad doing differently this time around? Is this just another hot streak and how does this streak compare to other successful stretches for Vlad?
First, we need to establish the best stretches of Vlad’s career. Using the leaderboard above, I went through and found the five best stretches of Vlad’s young career.

Year
Dates
Plate Appearances
wRC+

2019
May 11 – May 31
76
163

2019
July 19 – August 4
66
241

2019
August 10 – August 30
61
152

2020
August 16 – August 30
63
172

2021
April  1 – April 18
67
232

Vlad has had …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

What to expect from The Goat this summer

Freddie Gauthier probably frustrates me on the same level that Martin Marincin frustrates a lot of you. It’s not that he’s a defense first forward, I’m thrilled the Leafs have those in the lineup. It’s not the lack of offense, in fact he seems to come out of nowhere every so often to prove me wrong on his offensive abilities as well.
Gauthier has landed in a platooning situation for the fourth line, and that seems like it is the permanent fit for him, unless the team and player decide to part ways this offseason with Gauthier being an arbitration eligible free agent. The playoffs will be the last chance to see if Gauthier is still ahead of Adam Brooks, Pierre Engvall, etc. as the fourth line center option. And does he bring enough to the Leafs to justify keeping him. Or is he just a great guy you like having around the team?
By the numbers

So Freddie doesn’t see too many offensive starts in his role, but one of the things I wasn’t really prepared to see was how consistently he has moved the puck up …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Raptors: Top three Kyle Lowry games of 2019-20

Kyle Lowry continues to perform at a high level as the leader and point guard of the Toronto Raptors. What are his top three performances from the season so far? With the 2019-20 NBA season shockingly suspended indefinitely due to the spread of the coronavirus disease, it has become anyone’s guess as to when the […]
Toronto Raptors: Top three Kyle Lowry games of 2019-20 – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Aditya Chandran / Raptors HQ

Vlad Jr. destroys some baseballs, comes second in Home Run Derby

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. displayed his immense level of power tonight in Cleveland and shocked the whole baseball world while breaking some records on his way.
The MLB installed that new format for the derby and it provided some sheer entertainment, a lot of it coming from Vlad Jr. In just his first round, the 1-8 matchup against Oakland’s Matt Chapman, Vlad Jr. broke the record for most home runs in a single round with 29. The previous record was Josh Hamilton with 28, so it fits perfectly that the Blue Jays destroy the Rangers yet again.
Not only did Vlad break the record in the first round, but he matched his total with another 29 homers in the semi-final of the derby, facing off against Dodgers’ Joc Pederson. These weren’t simple flyers that just sneaked over the fence either, Vlad was bringing his typical explosive swing.

VLAD JR. #HRDerby pic.twitter.com/q5uDsjaDU5
— MLB (@MLB) July 9, 2019

If there is any space left, this should be put up in the AGO and never taken down.
In total, Vlad Jr. hit 91 home runs — more than four teams have in the first half of the 2019 season. That 91 carries throughout derby history as well, …

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Author: Thomas Williams / Blue Jays Nation

Welcome to the Jurassic Kingdom, America

Scotiabank Arena hit another level last night for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And it’s time everyone realized Toronto is a basketball city like no other. The crowd in Scotiabank Arena was on-point the entire game. Deafening chants of “Let’s Go Raptors” — at one point mercifully overwhelming Game Ops’ asinine insistence of trying to make “This is Our House” happen — shook the building.
The cries of “De-Fense” came at exactly the right moment. Chants of “Danny”, “Freddy”, and “Lowry” rocked down from the upper bowl. The inevitable ‘M-V-P’ for Kawhi was heard too. Really all that was missing was a bespoke celebration for Pascal Siakam (I humbly suggest “Spi-cy, P!” to the tune of “Let’s Go Raptors”).
Even the “Ref, You Suck!” chants were on point, in that, for a game that was pretty damn well-officiated, they were largely left out of the proceedings.
It was a pump your fist, pound the railing, bounce-on-the-balls-of-your-feet-for-the-eternity-it-takes-a-Danny-Green-corner-three-to-splash-through-the-bucket, high-five your neighbour, and tell-the-guy-behind-you-who-was-bringing-the-bad-energy-into-the-building-to-stop-being-a-jinx kinda night.
It was sublime. It was breathtaking. It was also familiar.
For anyone who has been in the ACC/Scotiabank Arena, or hell even the old Skydome, during a big game it was something you had heard …

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Author: ConorMcCreery / Raptors HQ