Ilya Samsonov held off the Jets long enough for Maple Leafs’ scorers to show up

Some would call Thursday night’s matchup a measuring stick game for the Maple Leafs, others would say the same for the Winnipeg Jets.
It seemed as if there was more discussion about the goaltending heading into this game more than anything else. Ilya Samsonov started for Toronto, after coming in for relief on Tuesday, while the Jets went with none other than Connor Hellebuyck.
The first period was all Winnipeg with shots at the end of the opening frame being 16-6, not in favour of Toronto.

The Maple Leafs were the team to strike first, although they weren’t the ones driving play for most of the game. Auston Matthews, who we’ll discuss more of later, scored two quick goals in the second. His earliest being eight seconds into the period.
That seemed to give Toronto some life which allowed Mitch Marner to contribute on the score sheet, too. It was his franchise-leading 19th-straight game with a point at home.
After that, Winnipeg continued to drive play in all situations. All of that offensive pressure eventually led to a power play and Kyle Connor scored during the man advantage just after David Kampf had trouble clearing the puck out of the zone.
But that was the only goal the Jets could score because Ilya Samsonov was incredible on Thursday.

Toronto generated the only two goals at five-on-five while Winnipeg dominated in the shots department. By the end of the game, shots were 38-27 for the Jets — a far margin. Though at five-on-five, shots w …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

MacKinnon could return to Avalanche lineup on Saturday, no changes for Toronto: Leafs practice notes

MacKinnon could return to Avalanche lineup on Saturday, no changes for Toronto: Leafs practice notes

After a 6-3 loss to Arizona on Thursday night, the Maple Leafs got back to work with a practice in Denver before their game vs. the Avalanche on Saturday night.
It was a rough go versus the Coyotes on Thursday — especially for Matt Murray — who allowed four goals against for the fourth time this season. Toronto led 3-2 before Arizona came back, scoring four unanswered goals (two in an empty net).
“You could break it down a lot of different ways, and there’s a lot of different things that happened over 60 minutes. But, it really probably comes down to our inability to kill a penalty,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe in Arizona on Thursday night.
But when it comes to their next game, on New Years Eve game in Colorado, it doesn’t look like any of the Maple Leafs’ lineup is changing.

#Leafs line rushes at practice Dec. 30/22
Bunting-Matthews-NylanderJarnkrok-Tavares-MarnerKerfoot-Kampf-EngvallAstonReese-Holmberg-Hunt Extra: Anderson, Simmonds
Giordano-HollRielly-LiljegrenBrodie-TimminsExtra: Sandin-Benn @BodogCA @RinkWideTOR
— David Alter (@dalter) December 30, 2022

Wayne Simmonds and Joey Anderson are the odd forwards out, as is Rasmus Sandin and Jordie Benn on the back-end.
At this point, there’s really no reason to change the defence pairings. Morgan Rielly is just getting back and needs to find his rhythm. Plus, none of the other defencemen have really offered up a reason to be taken out of the lineup.
I’d say the same goes with the forwards. Anderson did play well when he was in the lineup, but Toronto wants to see what they have with Dryden Hunt. The 27-year-old played pretty good on Thursday night, leading the Maple Leafs with six hits in the game.
There was no word after Friday’s practice about who would start in Toronto’s net on Saturday night.
Both Murray and Ilya Samsonov haven’t had the best showings in their last three games. In fac …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Ten Blue Jays minor league players elect free agency, including Elvis Luciano

On Thursday, Blue Jays minor league players elected free agency.

Updated on the transaction page on Friday evening, there are 10 minor leaguers whose contracts weren’t extended/decided against signing with the Jays:
C Ryan Gold
RHP Jake Elliottt
RHP Elvis Luciano
RHP Brady Lail
LHP Trey Cumbie
RHP José De León
OF Yoshi Tsutsugo
RHP Eric Yardley
RHP Casey Lawrence
SS Eric Stamets
The most noticeable name is Elvis Luciano, who was a Rule 5 draft pick in 2019. The right-handed pitcher was the first player born in the 2000s to play in Major League Baseball. With the 2019 Jays, he had a 5.35 ERA and 5.56 FIP in 33.2 innings pitched, along with a 17 K% and 15.1 BB%, pitching in relief. 

At just 19 years old, Elvis Luciano has a scoreless @MLB debut in the books! #LetsGoBlueJays
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 1, 2019

This looks bad, but Luciano was only 19 years old and wasn’t ready for the big leagues, but had to remain on the Jays’ 26-man roster.
Luciano spent most of the 2022 season on the minor league injured list, as he had a stress fracture in his pitching arm. Last season in New Hampshire, he had a 3.16 ERA and a 4.54 FIP in 37 innings.
Other former major leaguers that elected free agency/weren’t signed are Casey Lawrence, Eric Yardley, Yoshi Tsutsugo, José De León, and Brady Lail.
In the mid-10s, De León was regarded as a top prospect, but injuries have hampered his career. He has an 8.44 ERA and 5.98 FIP in 48 innings pitched with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Cinncinati Reds. This season, the 30-year-old had a 4.35 ERA and 5.15 FIP, along with a 31.3 K% and 14.6 BB% in 10.1 innings with the Bisons.
Casey Lawrence is another name of note, as he was the only pitcher on the list that pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2022. While his 7.50 ERA and 6.34 FIP weren’t great, Lawrence was a guy who could eat innings in a pinch. He had a 2.79 ERA and 4.16 FIP in 126 innings pitched with the Buffalo Bisons.
We here at Blue Jays Nation wish nothing but the best for …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

Pre-Series Notes: Jays turn to the pen for game one, Berrios looks to continue strong September

It was a tough night for the Jays on Thursday losing 11-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays. That said, they still took the five-game series 3-2 and sit atop the wild card standings with a record of 81-63. Since being swept by the Los Angeles Angels in late August they have now won their last five series, including four and five game sets against the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles had the day off yesterday after completing a quick two game sweep of the Washington Nationals earlier in the week. They have fallen behind in the wild card race going just 7-6 so far in September. They are 4.5 games back of the Rays for the final playoff spot.
Things Worth Mentioning…
Tonight’s game will be broadcasted on AppleTVPlus.

#FridayNightBaseball is here.
Watch us face the Orioles live only on @AppleTVPlus tonight:
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 16, 2022

The game is free if you sign in to an Apple account. You don’t need to have a subscription.
Don’t forget to vote for Bo Bichette.

We’re proud to honour Bo Bichette as this year’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee
Vote for Bo at
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) September 15, 2022

Bo is this year’s nominee from the Blue Jays for the Roberto Clemente award. The Roberto Clemente award is an annual honour given to “the player who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”
The head-to-head…
Trevor Richards vs. Jordan Lyles
It will be a bullpen day for the Blue Jays tonight with Trevor Richards being used as an opener. He threw 29 pitches in relief in yesterday’s loss so he will likely pitch one inning at most. This will be Richards’ third start this season (all in September). The Jays are 1-1 in games he has started.
Richards allowed five runs and recorded just two outs against the Tampa Bay Rays last night. He has given up nine run …

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Author: Scott Ony / Blue Jays Nation

Blue Jays take series behind a strong start from Jose Berrios

Like Cam said on the podcast last Thursday, the Blue Jays have been getting extremely consistent starts from Jose Berrios. The Jays got another one from Berrios on Sunday afternoon, heavily contributing to a 4-1 win over Detroit. With that win, Toronto took the series, and are now 7-2 since the All-Star break.
Berrios went 7 innings, giving up only 3 hits, one run, one walk, and striking out six. His only blemish was a 4th inning home run by Javier Baez, which honestly turned out to be predictable; in his 1st inning at-bat, Baez hit three consecutive pitches to deep left field. All three were literally just foul, inches from being homers. Berrios eventually walked Baez in that at-bat, but he got Berrios back with a solo shot later on. It also just so happens to be that Berrios is Baez’ brother-in-law. Baseball is incredible sometimes.
Berrios fought through an inconsistent strike zone, and only needed 80 pitches to get through his outing. With this start, Berrios dipped his ERA down to 4.96. It’s the first time his ERA has been below 5.00 since June 15th.
Today‘s scoring was started by Matt Chapman, who has been on an absolute heater the last several weeks. Chapman hit a 2-run h …

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Author: Evan Stack / Blue Jays Nation