Max Castillo keeps up with former World Series MVP + Dahian Santos is the real deal – Minor League Round Up

In a game Stephen Strasburg pitched in, Max Castillo really stood out.
Everyone loves a pitching duel. Strasburg went 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K while the 23-year-old Castillo went 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR in just 68 pitches. This domination from Strasburg is expected, as the rehabbing pitcher has pedigree.
He went first overall in the 2009 draft, he won the World Series MVP in 2019, he’s a three time all-star and is making $35 million until the end of the 2026 season. Castillo, on the other hand, was signed in the 2015 International Free Agency with a bonus of just $10,000.

Castillo strikes out former Blue Jay, Josh Palacios for his first of the night.
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) June 4, 2022

It feels like Max Castillo has been in this organization forever, but he’s made a slow and steady climb to the last test before the majors.

Another three pitch strikeout for Castillo. Strikeout #2
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) June 4, 2022

The 23-year-old righty started his season with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Double A, where he posted a 3.10 ERA in 29 innings pitched. His FIP was relatively low at 3.94 and he had an impressive K/9 of 10.86. There were some concerns about his elevated BB/9 of 4.34 though.

Pretty sure this was a curveball.
Just plummets.
Strikeout #3, all swinging.
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) June 4, 2022

Despite this, Castillo was promoted to Buffalo on May 15th. He has pitched 18 innings since his promotion, giving up just a single run for an ERA of 0.50. Furthermore, his BB/9 has dropped to 2.50 while his K/9 sits at 9.

Strikeout #4. Well located
— Brennan Delaney (@Brennan_L_D) June 4, 2022

The last time Castillo ranked in MLB Pipeline’s To …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Raptors should be interested in G League Camp star Marcus Sasser

Raptors should be interested in G League Camp star Marcus Sasser

The Toronto Raptors have the opportunity to really make some waves this offseason, as they could bring in a long-term contributor with the No. 33 overall pick. If they want to kill two birds with one stone and add a backup point guard that can shoot better than Malachi Flynn, they could select Houston guard […]
Raptors should be interested in G League Camp star Marcus Sasser – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors fans roast Goran Dragic after laughing at Toronto’s exit

Raptors fans roast Goran Dragic after laughing at Toronto’s exit

I really wish that Goran Dragic didn’t keep interjecting his name into Toronto Raptors news. However, the Croatian veteran opened his mouth once again after Toronto’s season came to a close following their defeat against the Philadelphia 76ers. He was just giddy watching the Raptors lose. There is no shame in losing how the Raptors […]
Raptors fans roast Goran Dragic after laughing at Toronto’s exit – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Kerfoot has had a more consistent role this year, but still remains the Leafs’ Swiss Army Knife

When it comes to Alex Kerfoot, you don’t really think of him as having a set place in the Leafs lineup. He can be on Tavares’ wing one game, centering the fourth line the next, and he’s even had significant stints flanking Kampf and Spezza. His ability to move throughout the Leafs lineup is a critical need for the Leafs, but at the same time, more so than any other year Kerfoot has found himself on a consistent line with John Tavares, and to a slightly lesser extent as of late, William Nylander. As a result Kerfoot finds himself with 5 more points than his previous career best season, with 10 games remaining. What he is doing seems to be working for him, and the Leafs, but is his current situation the best role for him come playoff time?

A lot of Kerfoot’s success comes from a January PDO bender. His 15 points in 11 games is simply something we haven’t seen from him before in a Leafs uniform, and his numbers certainly normalized quickly after that.
5v5 Stats
On Ice Sh%
On Ice Sv%
Kerfoot has taken noticeable leaps in pretty much every category, and while attributing that to who he plays with could be part of it, the whole idea behind Kerfoot is that he plays with absolutely everyone.
One of the interesting phenomenons of the season is that while Kerfoot is having a better year, from a corsi perspective, every forward (except Auston Matthews) that plays with Kerfoot is a little worse when they are on the ice with Alex.
On Ice With
TOI With
CF% With
CF% Without Kerfoot
John Tavares
William Nylander
David Kampf
Mitchell Marner
Ilya Mikheyev
Ondrej Kase
Wayne Simmonds
Michael Bunting
Jason Spezza
Auston Matthews
Pierre Engvall
Most of the time it doesn’t even seem to be particularly close either. This kind of speaks to Kerfoot as the “Plan …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

I grew up hating baseball. These Toronto Blue Jays changed that.

Growing up in Alberta, I was never really exposed to baseball as a kid.

In fact, I wasn’t even exposed to it at all. I feel like baseball is one of those sports that’s inherited in some way. Your grandfather maybe would sit by the radio tracking the game with a stats sheet, or maybe your father did too.
For me it was all about hockey and football. I grew up Edmonton Oilers hockey, and I grew up a Chicago Bears fan and am still a diehard to this day.
I found myself engrained with thoughts that baseball was, well… a “dumb sport.” I bought into tropes like “the games are too long,” or “there’s not enough action,” or “the players aren’t real athletes,” et cetera, et cetera.
As I grow older, I’ve found these tropes to be the farthest thing from the truth. You see, two years ago I started working at the Nation Network full-time. I got to work closely with guys like Cam Lewis, and Tyler Yaremchuk, both massive Jays fans, and through osmosis I started becoming a Jays fan too.
You see, there are few things I love more than good stories. I went to school to be a Journalist and worked full-time in the n …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

WATCH: Auston Matthews ties the Leafs franchise record for goals in a season

What more can we really say about Matthews goal scoring abilities? If you are regularly debating if he he’s the greatest Leaf you haven’t been paying close attention. He certainly seems to be the most talented player to ever wear the blue and white, and with players like Sundin, Sittler, Bower, and others in the team’s history, that’s not a light statement.
Anyways, here’s a quick look at his historic hat trick.

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 5, 2022

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 5, 2022

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) April 5, 2022

There’s plenty of time left in the season to keep on counting, and suddenly it looks very realistic that the Leafs will have their first 60 goal scorer by the end of the year.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Orelvis Martinez to start the season in Double-A, Gabriel Moreno will start in Triple-A

The Orelvis Martinez Hype Train is really starting to move.

The Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect showed up to spring training this year and made a really good impression, going 4-for-13 with a pair of dingers and a pair of doubles.
There was some excitement that a hot spring could vault Martinez right up to the big leagues out of camp, but that was never very realistic. He’s only 20 years old, isn’t on the 40-man roster, and hasn’t yet played above High-A, so such a jump would be a little bit much, all things considered.
That said, if all goes well, there’s a chance Martinez makes his way up to the Majors at some point in 2022. General manager Ross Atkins was on the broadcast during Sunday’s Grapefruit game with the Yankees and he said that the plan is for Martinez to start the season with Double-A New Hampshire…

On our broadcast today, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins says Gabriel Moreno is likely headed to Buffalo after an extended spring training. And to expect Orelvis Martinez to be on his way to double-A.
The two key Blue Jays prospects to keep an eye on this season.
— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) April 3, 2022

There was some talk a little while ago that Martinez will largely be used at short and third base, but he might also see some time at second, which would be his easiest path to the Majors. Matt Chapman and Bo Bichette are entrenched at third and short, while second is a lit …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Jack Campbell vows to be better after difficult return in goal for Maple Leafs

Jack Campbell really wanted to win this game. Not just for himself, but for Wayne Simmonds, who played in his 1000th NHL game.
But the affable Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender fell short of his standard, as he allowed five goals on 28 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.
“I know I got to get better for the team,’ Campbell said following the loss. “It’s disappointing not getting the win when the team played so well. But I appreciate the fans still supporting me and the team and I promise I’ll get out of it and get on a roll again.”
The Leafs were looking for a bounce-back performance after a disappointing 5-1 loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.
They had a much better effort against the Canucks. All that was missing was another save or two from Campbell, who made his first start in a week after he allowed five goals against the Detroit Red Wings and had to be pulled from a winning situation.
“I guess I would say that I thought he looked comfortable in the net and we have to do a better
job of not letting those pucks hang around, those tips and stuff like that,” Maple Leafs coach Sh …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: Say the line, Bart!

Well, that wasn’t a fun one. But it really shouldn’t have been a surprise. The Leafs came into tonight’s game without Mitch Marner, one of their best players, and Pierre Engvall and Ondrej Kase, two key cogs to their shutdown line, so with some obvious holes up front tonight, the fact that they were in the game as much as they were says a lot about how long Jack Campbell kept them in the game, and the dominant play of Auston Matthews tonight. They made a statement in the first half by taking a 4-1 lead in spite of that, and the Avalanche made a statement by coming back.
Three Stars
Third Star: William Nylander
Nylander didn’t end up with a single point tonight, but he was flying out there tonight, creating chance after chance, and honestly probably could have ended up with five or six if anyone could have buried them.
Second Star: Alexander Kerfoot
Kerfoot scored a key goal in the first, changing the momentum of the game early on by getting the first goal after the Leafs were getting hemmed in their own zone for the first eight minutes of the game. He was up against his former team, and got a bigger role playing on the Matthews line without Marner, and he showed up to pl …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: How the Maple Leafs matchup against a slumping Oilers team missing McDavid

Not that the Leafs really needed any help to be better than the Oilers, they got even more help with Connor McDavid testing positive for COVID while Auston Matthews was confirmed a false positive and will be back in the lineup. We already saw what an injury depleted Leafs team did against a mostly healthy Oilers team in December, so a mostly healthy Leafs team against an injury depleted Oilers team favours quite heavily for the Leafs. Obviously this is the Leafs, so it seems like one of those games that is inevitably a loss, but I’m going to ignore the fact that the Leafs are cursed and dive into the statistical reasons why this bodes well for the Leafs.
Tale of the Tape (via Mark Norman)

Projected Lineups
Toronto Maple Leafs



Edmonton Oilers




The first line of Warren Foegele, Leon Draisaitl, and Kailer Yamamoto hasn’t had much time together (just under 13 minutes), but so far they’ve been a line that gets shot attempts, but not scoring chances, with a 64.47% CF% but a 44.44% xGF%. Draisaitl has always been a bit of an impostor superstar, as he tends to get by just on his skills (which admittedly are there), but pretty much every other facet of his game is definitely not at the level of someone like Auston Matthews. Take him away from McDavid and off the power play, and he’s even more exposed. Translation: he puts up points, and doesn’t bring much else to the table. The fact that Yamamoto is having a rough season, and Foegele is a little bit out of his element in a top six role with Nugent-Hopkins out makes this a line ripe to be exposed if the Leafs wanted to.
Being without McDavid tonight is a huge hit for the Oilers against a stronger Leafs team, especially when their depth was struggling already. If there is one slight upside to the shakeup of what is usually the top line, it’s that Jesse Puljujarvi will get a little bit of support defensively on this line with Ryan McLeod. It might surprise some that Puljujarvi is the defensive player on a line with McDavid and Zach Hyman, but McDavid has more or less sacrificed defense for the sake of offense, and Hyman usually hasn’t had strong defensive results aside from last season, so Puljujarvi has taken the mantle. Meanwhile, McLeod has put up the best defensive results out of Oilers forwards this season, with a 2.1 5v5 goals above replacement, and is one of only three forwards on the team with a positive GAR, so he should at least keep the line afloat defensively. This combo hasn’t even had a minute of ice time together so there’s not much to comment on how much success it’s had, but on paper, it could at least not cause problems defensively for the team.
Tyler Benson, Devin Shore, and Zack Kassian also haven’t played much time together, so once again we’re just going to have to look at how the players look on paper, and how those skills could potentially work together, or clash. And it doesn’t look super promising. Kassian has at least been competent this year, producing at a solid pace and at least being able to drive play to some extent, but Benson and Shore are both drags offensively and defensively, so Kassian isn’t the kind of guy you expect to excel in spite of that.
McDavid being out of an already depleted Oilers lineup gives the Leafs a really strong opportunity to exploit all three lineups. While Keefe might be inclined to put the Kampf line out against Draisaitl, I’d actually take this opportunity to go “best on best” considering what we know about Draisaitl’s play beyond his finishing ability. The fact that the Matthews line is also one of the best in the league at controlling play and creating chances just means that they can really hammer it down with that line. After that, I’d probably go the route of putting Kampf up against the McLeod line, since they’d probably be the best chance defensively of stopping either the Matthews or Tavares line, and the lack of scoring touch from that Oilers line means you’re not as worried about getting burned. That leaves the Tavares line to feast on that third line that hasn’t had any playing time together, and doesn’t have a lot of promise anyways.
Much like the rest of tonight’s forward group for the Oilers, the combo of Colton Sceviour, Kyle Turris, and Brendan Perlini has had no time together. If there’s any hope out of this group, it’s that Sceviour is one of those other two forwards on the Oilers with strong defensive results with a 1.4 5v5 GAR, but with Turris and Perlini not being able to do much of anything, it doesn’t inspire much for Oilers fans tonight. It also helps that Nick Ritchie being on the fourth line with Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds turns it from one of the best fourth lines in the league to an average line, so they won’t be totally outclassed tonight by the Leafs in the battle of fourth lines.
The Oilers have gotten a (deservedly) bad rap for their defensive game, but if they have one thing going for them, it’s the current top pair of Darnell Nurse and Evan Bouchard. The duo have been one of the better pairs in the league this season, with a 58.13% CF% that ranks 33rd and a 57.61% xGF% that ranks 54th (out of 341 pairings, mind you). This may come as a bit of a surprise considering that Nurse has notoriously been poor defensively and Bouchard’s lack of experience, but Nurse has turned around his overall game this season and improved defensively overall. In fact, the only part of the game he’s struggled in is driving actual goals, but that’s mostly just regression from last season. Bouchard’s defensive game isn’t quite there, but his offensive game makes up for it, and with Nurse there to keep him propped up, it’s made for a good pair to start the season.
Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci also hasn’t been surprisingly terrible this season considering the two players involved, but even then it’s been pretty average results with a 51.02% CF% and 50.41% xGF% at 5v5. A lot of that comes from the fact that Ceci is actually quite competent defensively, at least results wise (visually, it’s not always pretty). He doesn’t generate a thing offensively, but he can at least prevent shot attempts and scoring chances well enough to keep you afloat. Keith hasn’t been great this season, but he also hasn’t been as abysmal as he usually is, just painfully average, which has led to the pairing being able to have okay numbers.
I’d probably try and keep Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl away from that top pair for the Oilers based on their play so far this season, but considering Muzzin hasn’t played in over three weeks, maybe he’s a bit more rested and back to his old self, which then means Holl can actually play against tough competition again. Still, they’d probably be better suited against the more average Keith-Ceci pair while Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie take on the stronger Nurse-Bouchard pair for the Oilers.
While losing McDavid tonight will definitely hurt their chances, Tyson Barrie being one of the players out is probably a blessing in disguise for the club, as he’s usually been a drag on any pairing he’s played with, and the fact that he’s being subbed in for William Lagesson is an even better sign for Oilers fans. Lagesson has had solid results all around this year, but hasn’t had much playing time so far this season at the expense of a player like Barrie, so that will help the Oilers chances. Koekkoek hasn’t really been all that good this year, so that could hurt the pairing a little bit, but still, at Lagesson will be there to help stop the bleeding, as opposed to Barrie, who would’ve just cut the wound open more. Lagesson and Koekkoek also have barely played a minute together, so we don’t really know what they’d be like together, but it’s still better than anything with Barrie. That said, they’ll be up against Rasmus Sandin and Travis Dermott, who crush weak competition even better than Lagesson does, so it’ll probably be a good matchup for the Leafs.
Mike Smith will get the start tonight, and while he hasn’t played much this season, when he has, he has been pretty bad. Among goalies who have faced at minimum the same volume of work as Smith this season, Smith has the 11th worst 5v5 save percentage with 90.49%, the 7th worst delta Fenwick save percentage with -1.86%, and the 21st worst goals saved above expected with -3.01. The fact that the latter two stats are as low as they are despite just five games from Smith is pretty telling how bad he’s been in that short span, something also evidenced by his -2.6 goals above replacement, 13th worst in the league. Even if Jack Campbell’s numbers were average instead of how elite they’ve actually been, this still wouldn’t be a close goalie matchup.
While the Oilers haven’t looked great on their current slump, they aren’t quite as comically bad as they may seem sometimes this season, this matchup is just a situation where everything they can do well, the Leafs can do just as good or better. The Oilers have a high scoring top six with a power play that’s been good at times? The Leafs have that, except their players don’t do it at the expense of offense. The Oilers have a bottom six that can at the very least not bleed chances defensively? The Leafs have that, except their bottom six can chip in from time to time as well. The Oilers defense core has surprisingly worked well? So has the Leafs. The Oilers have bad goaltending? Leafs don’t. With a healthy lineup, this would at least be interesting, but without McDavid this really isn’t close. Draisaitl might burn the Leafs for a goal or two tonight, but he’ll probably get burned for three or four as well, and everything else in the lineup probably won’t be able to help much offensively to compensate.

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation