How Bowden Francis’ developed curveball has made him an intriguing bullpen option for the Blue Jays

Remember last season when the Blue Jays bullpen was really crappy?

We think we have it bad now, but the early season 2021 Blue Jays were a pain to watch once the starter was removed from the game.
To remedy this, the Jays traded first baseman Rowdy Tellez for reliever Trevor Richards, as well as a Triple A prospect. Now you may say, wow that trade really sucks as Richards has a 5.27 ERA and 5.11 FIP in 42.2 innings pitched. Not just that, but Tellez has gone on to have some success in 2022, posting a 117 wRC+ with 22 homers in 405 plate appearances.
While that may be the case in 2022, it cannot be understated how important Richards was to stabilizing the Jays bullpen in 2021 as he posted a 3.31 ERA and 4.61 FIP in 32.2 innings pitched.
However, this article isn’t going to focus on the trade and how it’s played about. This article will focus on how Bowden Francis has emerged as a legit bullpen option a year and a bit later.
Let’s dig into Francis’ stats:
For the 2021 season, Francis pitched as a starter. He posted a 4.19 ERA and 5.65 FIP in 73 innings pitched with the Buffalo Bisons. Prior to the trade, he had pitched with the Brewers Triple A team, posting a 3.49 ERA and a 3.78 FIP in 38.2 innings pitched. Not fantastic numbers, but solid enough.
Here’s a spoiler alert for the 2022 season: his numbers are utter crap. …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

2022 TLN Prospect Rankings: #12 Semyon Der-Arguchintsev

This past season was the start of something new between the Maple Leafs and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev.
Although the 21-year-old had one short stint of pro while on loan in the KHL, this would be his true taste of North American professional hockey. And it was a fascinating year to say the least.
It didn’t feel like there was much riding on this season for Der-Arguchintsev, but there actually was. This was his first full season in the AHL — in a prominent role albeit. It was SDA’s time to shine and to show what he could have for the organization in the future.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev
C | Toronto (AHL) | Age: 21 | 5-foot-10 | 165 lbs | Shoots: RAcquired: 2018 Draft, 76th Overall | 2021 Ranking: #16
Entering the 2021-22 season, the 21-year-old needed to add a few things to his toolbox to fit in well with the Toronto Marlies — gaining more weight and muscle was the biggest. Coming out of the Traverse City prospect tournament, it was evidently clear that if Der-Arguchintsev wanted success, he’d need to grow.
Over the course of the season, that happened. In his first 17 games, the 21-year-old had 13 points — four being goals and the rest coming as assists. This was the fiery start that Der-Arguchintsev needed, yet unfortunately after this huge …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Blue Jays-Red Sox 7/22/2022: A Comedy

Now THAT is how you start the second half of the season. The Blue Jays came back from the All-Star break and welcomed the Red Sox with a 28-5 beatdown at Fenway Park. It’s safe to say that this game was worthy of a mercy rule, and everyone in the ballpark would’ve been okay with it. Red Sox fans were booing in literally every single inning, even to cover up some “Let’s go Blue Jays!” chants.

It would be hard to mention every run scored by the Blue Jays tonight because it would simply have as many words as the United States Constitution. Tough night for those who took the under!
The best and most comical of the 28 runs came from Raimel Tapia, who hit an inside-the-park grand slam. Randal Grichuk could never! On a 0-0 offering from Red Sox reliever Austin Davis, Tapia skied a ball into deep center field, and judging on his body language, Tapia assumed that he would be out. On what should have been a routine fly ball, Red Sox CF Jaren Duran never saw the ball, and instead, stood completely still as the ball landed in front of the center field wall. Tapia went from “Damn, I’m out” to 355 mph in no time, and he cleared …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation

Fortnight on the Farm, Vol. 7

At the All-star break (throughout the full season leagues) is not really “halfway home” – we did that two weeks ago – but because it’s unusually late in the month, you can look at performance in July as a decent sample and maybe jumping off to a larger one, but of course, in a few cases observations are sullied by having changed teams or been injured.

Buffalo Bisons
There’s hardly anything worth reporting about the Bisons pitching staff except that the guys you’ve seen in the majors – Thornton, Gage, Saucedo, Lawrence – are generally doing fine here if they are healthy. Even Thomas Hatch has had a couple of perfectly fine starts since that disaster against Tampa which, to be honest, doesn’t reflect his abilities.
Offensively the big story now, with due respect to more highly ranked prospects, is 1B Spencer Horwitz. In 11 games since his promotion, he has a .869 OPS. Gabby Moreno just got back, no sample to speak of. Samad Taylor came off the IL for one game this month and went right back on it. Otto Lopez and Jordan Groshans remain deeply unproductive.
New Hampshire  Fisher Cats
The rotation is where the names will catch your eye on this team. Yosver Zulueta, whom you’ll recall stumbled in his first AA outing, bounced back in an impressive outing this month, throwing 4 innings of 2 hit, 1 run ball, and striking out 8. He might well …

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Author: Tammy Rainey / Blue Jays Nation

Alex Kerfoot is good, but sometimes you have to trade good players

Alex Kerfoot had a career year last season. Good for him. After a couple of years of feeling the weight of expectations for not being Nazem Kadri, he had a year he could hang his hat on. Unfortunately, Nazem Kadri really had a season and Kerfoot still had to feel the weight of that trade, as unfair as that is.
Still, Kerfoot had a good productive season putting up 51 points while only averaging 15 minutes a night and only getting second unit power play time. For the Leafs he was a chameleon, never really having a set spot in the lineup, but constantly blending into his surroundings, either as Tavares’ winger, or a part time center during Auston Matthews’ injuries, and Kerfoot spent plenty of time in the bottom six as well, but managed to produce in those situations too. He fit into the power kill philosophy on the penalty kill, and was generally pretty good. At $3.5M he has value, at only $750k remaining to be paid on his contract, he’s an absolute bargain.

It’s pretty easy to see that Kerfoot brought a lot to the table last season and even in the years prior to that was a very serviceable middle six forward. Even if Kerfoot isn’t living up to his career year he adds value to a team. For the Leafs though, it seems they need him to be at his career year levels. In fact, there seems to be a lot of banking on a career year or better for Leafs players this season and that’s a tad frightening.
The Leafs have an apparent interest in keeping Alex Kerfoot, as discussed by Frank Seravalli earlier this week. There is interest in him around the league, but with a definite shortage of top six talent in the free agency market, the familiarity with Kerfoot makes the case for why he’d stay.
That said, it feels like the easy way out. It’s also committing to once again losing an asset …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Spencer Horwitz is the exact prospect the Jays need right now

Another season, another Spencer Horwitz article.

While I don’t think Horwitz is necessarily untouchable, I do think the Jays should think long and hard about trading the 24-year-old lefty.
The first baseman really started to make waves in the 2021 season with the Vancouver Canadians. Horwitz slashed .290/.401/.445 with ten homers for a wRC+ of 131. Horwitz also had a 27-game hitting streak, a record for the Northwest league. I wrote about his 2021 season here.
The Jays sent him to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League where he posted a .375/.460/.484 slash line in 74 plate appearances. Although he only hit one homer, he had a walk rate of 12.16% while only striking out 14.86% of the time. Horwitz was by far the best Blue Jays representative on the team, eclipsing Gabriel Moreno and Leo Jimenez.
Spencer started the 2022 season in Double A where you guessed it, he absolutely raked (and improved). In 281 plate appearances, Horwitz slashed .297/.413./.517, along with tying his career high in homers with 10. While he struck out (19.2%) more than he walked (15.3%), his wRC+ of 156 led to a promotion to Triple A.
You can imagine how Horwitz has done with the Bisons. In 34 plate appearances, he’s slashing .333/.412/.567 with a homer. Much like previous levels, he’s kept the K% down (14.7%) while walking quite a lot (11.8%). While this is a sm …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation