TLN Top 20 Leafs: #20 Pierre Engvall

It’s time to kick start our Top 20 Leafs countdown. And to start it off we’ve got a player that we as Leafs fans have generally underrated since day one. Pierre Engvall was a 7th round pick. He then took four years to make it North America, all the while he had a hard time cracking our top twenty prospect list. Now here he is coming in at the bottom of the Leafs roster rankings. On one hand it’s amazing that he’s here, but on the other hand maybe we’re still not giving him as much respect as he deserves compared to some of the other players on this list.
When it came to ranking Engvall, there was a pretty significant range on him. One of our contributors had him as the Leafs 13th best player, some had him ranked exactly where he’s at, and 4 contributors left him off their rankings completely. Somehow all of this seems fair.
Five Interesting Stats
S%
GF%
TOI w/Mikheyev
SH TOI
Career GWG/G
11.5
54.05
282.5
22:50
26.7%
So here’s the thing on Pierre Engvall, he’s billed as a defensive specialist. Still, his 7 goals in 42 games is solid offensive production …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Drew Hutchison is the Tigers’ scheduled starter against the Blue Jays on Sunday

It’s time for the Blue Jays to start winning some fucking games.

After putting together an amazing, seemingly season-changing stretch when they returned to Toronto, the Blue Jays hit the road to travel west and fell completely flat.
They split a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, dropped two of three in Seattle and lost George Springer to an injury in the process, and then, worst of all, they capped the trip off by dropping both games in a two-game series with the lowly Washington Nationals, a team that traded away nearly everyone of note on their roster before the trade deadline.
At the beginning of September, the Blue Jays will play seven games that will ultimately go a long, long, loooooong way in deciding whether or not they’ll be able to make the playoffs. They host Oakland for three games and then they travel to the Bronx to play the Yankees four times.
These head-to-head games will be massive for the team to make up ground on two of the teams they’re chasing in the wild-card race. Before that, though, the Blue Jays have a prime opportunity to get hot and put pressure …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Around the NHL: Winners and losers from the start of free agency

The start of free agency is easily one of the most exciting times on the hockey calendar, as teams take this opportunity to bring in some players to help improve their roster, giving up no assets except cap space. However, in a flat cap era, cap space is an extremely important asset, and wasting it can ruin your team for years, even worse than a bad trade or drafting a bust with a high pick.
With that, there are always winners and losers in free agency. Some teams make out really well bringing in good players on low or market value deals, and others get greedy, sign a ton of okay players to contracts that won’t age well, and then pay for it down the road (just look at all the assets teams have had to give up to get rid of bad contracts this offseason).
So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest winners (and losers) from the first couple of days of free agency.
Loser: Edmonton Oilers
Let’s start with maybe the most tragic one (only because I feel terrible for Connor McDavid), but after already weakening the roster by bringing in Duncan …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Good Ross Stripling Has Arrived

Ross Stripling’s Blue Jays career did not start as expected after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2020 Trade Deadline.
In 15.2 innings in 2020, Stripling had a 6.32 ERA. The underlying numbers were better, a 3.70 FIP and 4.10 xFIP, but, given the cost of acquisition, this left a sour taste in people’s mouths. It didn’t help when to start 2021 Stripling was even worse with a 7.20 ERA in six starts, which had many believing the Blue Jays would be better off just cutting him loose.

Things change! After getting lit up by Boston on May 19, Stripling made some changes to his delivery, trying to hide the ball more, as you can see in this great video from Chris Black…

On the left: Ross Stripling’s start on May 19 vs BOS (he got shelled)
On the right: His last appearance (7 scoreless IP)
A bit more of a delivery…
But also, hands tucked closer to his body for majority of delivery, which hides the ball, especially when hands separate. pic.twitter.com/XA9FZZQ6YJ
— Chris Black (@DownToBlack) May 30, 2021

To say the changes had worked would be an understatement…

Innings
ERA
FIP
xFIP
BABIP
HR/FB

Before May 19
25.0
7.20
5.44
4.34
.392
19.4

After May 19
35.1
2.29
3.53
3.95
.202
10.5

*Stats …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Analyzing the up-and-down start to Alek Manoah’s big league career

Alek Manoah has had an up and down start to his Major League career.

He’s had very good outings in tough situations, pitching very well against the Yankees, White Sox, and Red Sox on the road, but he’s also struggled against weak opponents in the Marlins and Orioles.
His season earned run average of 4.18 doesn’t look great, especially when it comes with a 6.18 FIP and 4.52 xFIP, but prior to that Orioles start his ERA was a sparkling 2.66. He may not be the saviour of the rotation everyone expected but he has given the team quality innings and most importantly has taken the ball every turn through the rotation so the team doesn’t have to worry about a bullpen game once a week.
With five starts under his belt, this is a good chance to evaluate how Manoah is doing, what his attack plan for hitters has been, and how hitters made adjustments now that they have some video on him.
We will begin with the fastball. Manoah has thrown his fastball 42.9% of the time. He typically throws the fastball up in the zone, as he did in his first three starts…

There is nothing there in …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

TLN Three Stars: Game lost, Captain lost, and optimism lost

Let’s start with the most important thing on our minds following that loss to the Canadiens, that is the injury to John Tavares. You can find a summary of the incident here, and aside from Chris Johnston’s update that Tavares was taken to the hospital, we are still left wondering how he’s doing.
Now as for the game itself, the Leafs were victim to Carey Price playing like the Carey Price that used to be talked about as one of the greatest goaltenders in the world. His robbing of Marner on his one-timer attempt during a 2 on 1 with Nylander was the additional bad omen the Leafs didn’t need tonight. The Habs scored shortly after the Tavares injury, and the Leafs were able to hold on for the rest of the period, and actually rally as best they could in the second with a goal from Nylander, but Price was vintage Price, and that’s all they got before the predestined short handed goal by Paul Byron in the third that put emphasis on how toxic the Leafs powerplay has been this year. Arguably Jack Campbell should want that one back, but he’s probably the third …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs’ Second Last Game Facing Second Last Sens

As the Toronto Maple Leafs start to wrap up the 2021 NHL season, in which they’ve been crowned the champions of the North division, they’ll head to Ottawa to face the second last team in that same North division.
Of course, Ottawa will only hold on to being just second last if the Vancouver Canucks can’t finish out the year, or fail to post a record with a 50% points percentage or more in their remaining games. However, as it stands currently, the wordplay-ish title is technically correct — the best kind of correct.
Toronto holds a 5-3 record against the Senators this year, which is the worst head-to-head record that they have against any opponent this season. It’s not really all that surprising to learn that the Leafs struggle with the Senators the most, as anyone who’s watched hockey for a long time can tell you that in rivalry matchups, skill seems to become less of a factor than the emotional willpower of the team.
Tonight, Toronto aims to double up on the Senators in this last contest between the two teams this season.
Tale of the Tape
The Tale of the Tape for this contest comes …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

More fastballs, more strikes, more success for Robbie Ray

Robbie Ray has had a strong start to the season for the Blue Jays. His first two starts were very Robbie Ray-esque. Ray allowed two runs in 10 innings against the Yankees and Royals, with nine walks versus just six strikeouts. Ray limited the damage as he only allowed one home run in those two starts, even though the Blue Jays lost both of those games; they could have been much worse.

In his next two starts the home run was back, Ray allowed three homers accounting for all five of the runs he allowed. But he struck out 14 batters, didn’t walk anyone and pitched deeper into the games, throwing 12.2 innings. You total everything together and Ray has a sparkling 2.78 ERA but with a 4.73 expected ERA, a 4.83 FIP and 4.33 xFIP. Indicating Ray hasn’t pitched as well as his ERA suggests and that regression is coming.
Regression is certainly coming soon for Ray. A 93.5% left on base rate and a .237 batting average on balls in play is not sustainable over a full season. Ray however is doing certain things differently this year, which will help him continue to succeed even as certain things regress.
For Ray everything starts with the …

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Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors: Nuggets loss reveals worrying trend on defense

Toronto Raptors: Nuggets loss reveals worrying trend on defense

The Toronto Raptors didn’t start their West Coast road trip in the best fashion, as they were dominated in the fourth quarter by MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. While this Nuggets team is a playoff squad out West, Nick Nurse beat them earlier in the year, and they were playing this game […]
Toronto Raptors: Nuggets loss reveals worrying trend on defense – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

False Alarm! George Springer won’t make his debut on Tuesday

It turns out today won’t be the start of Springer Season after all.

Though there had been plenty of indication that today would be the day that George Springer finally makes his Blue Jays debut, that won’t be the case. Apparently, Springer ran at TD Ballpark in Dunedin Tuesday morning and his quad is still not back at 100%.

Multiple sources: George Springer will NOT make his #BlueJays debut tonight.
He ran at TD Ballpark earlier and the quad is still not 100% yet. Plenty more on #BlueJaysCentral at 6:30p.
— Ben Wagner (@benwag247) April 27, 2021

As much as this sucks, it really is better that the Blue Jays are taking things slowly with Springer and ensuring that he’s all good to go before bringing him back. It would really be awful if he came back a little bit too early and nicked or aggravated something and had to go back on the Injured List for another few weeks shortly after finally making his debut. The season is a marathon, not a sprint.
That said, this is obviously really disappointing as we had all built ourselves up for today finally being the day. At this point, I’m not going to …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation