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

Michael Hutchinson is the Leafs third string goaltender and that’s fine

Aaron Dell was going to be a very nice luxury in the right year to have goaltending depth. Combine the Leafs cap realities with the fact that New Jersey and Washington lost established goaltenders before the season even started, and it took all of a day into the season before the Oilers were without half of their tandem, in losing Mike Smith, it was clear that Aaron Dell was going to be short-lived as a Leaf, and the Plan B of Michael Hutchinson was going to be an unfortunate reality of the season.
Most of our memories of Michael Hutchinson come from last season, where he was not particularly good in his backup role to Freddie Andersen. The more the team needed to rely on him, the more he seemed to disappoint. That stems from the fact that Hutchinson isn’t quite an NHL goaltender, but he has been able to thrive in the third string role.
Throughout Hutchinson’s career he has bounced between the AHL and the NHL. It has been five seasons since Hutchinson spent the full year with a NHL team. Third string is his wheelhouse, and here he is. Would Dell have been better? Yes. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Teoscar Hernandez and the Blue Jays avoid arbitration with a one-year, $4,325,000 deal

Teoscar Hernandez has earned himself a nice payday after his breakout season in 2020.

The Blue Jays and their slugger have reached a one-year contract worth $4,325,000, avoiding arbitration, according to MLB Insider Robert Murray.

Source: Blue Jays, Teoscar Hernandez settle at $4,325,000, avoiding arbitration.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 15, 2021

Hernandez is one of two Blue Jays who is eligible for arbitration this year, with the other one being pitcher Ross Stripling. Travis Shaw also would have been arb-eligible but the Blue Jays non-tendered him back in early-December.
There had been some speculation that the Blue Jays would look to lock Hernandez up to a long-term deal after his breakout showing this season, much like the team did with Jose Bautista back in 2010. But, given how small the sample size was for Hernandez’s great season, the front office likely wants to see if he can repeat his performance over the length of a normal season before making such a commitment.
Hernandez slashed a .289/.340/.579 line with 16 homers over the course of 50 games in 2020 and earned himself a Silver Slugger award and a few votes for American League Most Valuable Player. This breakout wasn’t totally out of the blue as Hernandez slashed a .248/.325/.548 line …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Everything you need to know from the start of Leafs training camp

After a long five months, it’s nice to finally say that the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally back.
Kyle Dubas, Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs’ leadership group spoke to the media today about how they feel going into this season and what they’re most excited about.
Keefe got a little bit too excited and gave us all the lines he’s going to try out in training camp before the season starts. There’s plenty of things to see, so I compiled all the most important quotes (in my opinion) into a video. Plus, I speak a little bit about the surprises on the Maple Leafs’ training camp roster.
I hope you enjoy!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Noelle Needham hired by the Chicago Steel as Assistant GM

It’s nice to see that the Leafs have such talented people that they grow in the industry, but unfortunately that leaves Toronto down a scout in the Midwestern United States…

— Chicago Steel (@ChicagoSteel) October 8, 2020

From the press release:
The Chicago Steel announced Thursday two additions to the club’s hockey operations department. Noëlle Needham was hired as Assistant General Manager and Adam Nicholas will serve as Player Development and Hockey Research Consultant.
Needham has been an amateur scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs since the 2018-2019 season in addition to coaching the Sioux Falls Power 16U AAA team. The Elkton, S.D., native co-founded Legend Hockey in 2009 following her collegiate career as a forward with the University of Minnesota State-Mankato.
“I am really looking forward to the opportunity to join the Steel organization,” said Needham. “I’m excited to join an organization that has an unmatched commitment to excellence and a passion for player development. I want to thank the Steel ownership, Ryan Hardy, and the staff for …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Four solo dingers power the Blue Jays to a win over Washington

That was nice and calming. For the first time in this young season, the Blue Jays didn’t have any bullpen-induced anxiety.

Things worth mentioning

Trent Thornton made his 2020 debut today and it was… a rollercoaster. All told, he went four innings and only allowed one run, but he certainly walked the tightrope. Thornton scattered eight hits and three walks over his four innings of work and a few of those outs came on hard contact. It wasn’t ideal, but he got the job done. He also spent the game looking like he was sitting in a hot tub in between innings.

Trent Thornton’s uniform is looking at how my grey shirts look like when i have the TV and the computer on at the same time
— David Damboise (@notdamboise) July 27, 2020

All of Toronto’s offence on Monday night came via the home run. Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo dinger to lead off the game, Rowdy Tellez and Danny Jansen hit homers in the fourth inning, and Hernandez hit one out of the park again in the fifth. The team only managed three hits other than those four homers.

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Are you satisfied? It’s ratified.

It’s nice to get a Leafs PR tweet in my timeline. So I’ll share it all with you know.

NHL and NHLPA ratify four-year CBA extension and Return to Play Plan. #StanleyCup Qualifiers to begin August 1.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 10, 2020

Hockey is back, baby! For better or worse it’s here. I’m going to be optimistic and say for the better. We’ll have more on the qualifying round schedules, and other tidbits shortly. For now, we’ll bask in the glory that training camps will open as planned on Monday, and we can begin our watch for the official training camp roster.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs Pregame #51: 5 things to watch for against Dallas

The win was so nice let’s do it twice.
The Leafs looked pretty good in Nashville. This was helped by Nashville looking absolutely terrible, but damned if that’s going to stop me from being optimistic about what the Leafs will do to the Stars tonight.
Crushing a bit of that optimism is the fact that the Stars are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, although they only have a 9-9-0 record against the Eastern Conference, so maybe they’ve just been beating up on the lifeless Pacific Division this year.
Either way, it’s another important game (they pretty much all will be from here on out) and we can hope the Leafs will take advantage of being still relatively rested and looking to build a win streak.

Rating: 74.6#30 LW

Rating: 82.9#3 C

Rating: 78.3#8 RW

FL1 Rating
Rating: 78.61#5 FL1

Rating: 71.8#83 LW

Rating: 78.9#12 C

Rating: 76.6#13 RW

FL2 Rating
Rating: 75.76#6 FL2

Rating: 72.1#72 LW

Rating: 73.2#68 C

Rating: 72.0#67 RW

FL3 Rating
Rating: 72.46#7 FL3

Rating:& …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation