Pittsburgh Pirates claim Toronto Blue Jays catcher Tyler Heineman

Tyler Heineman’s time in Toronto is done.

Placing him on outright waivers, the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed the 30-year-old on Monday.
Heineman joined the Jays in March inking a minor league deal, and was selected to the big league roster on April 11th. He drew into 10 games with Danny Jansen on the IL and since he returned, there was really no place for Heineman on the roster anymore.
In those 10 games, Heineman batted .267 with four hits in 15 at-bats while snagging one RBI. He only appeared in two games in Buffalo getting one hit in eight at-bats.
Recently, Heineman was at the center of some controversy when Yimi Garcia hit Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson. As the dust settled, the umps determined that Heineman and Donaldson had some previous words during the game, and somehow thought that had to do with Garcia’s errant pitch.
Nonetheless, the Jays three catchers on the active roster: Jansen, Alejandro Kirk and Zack Collins, with Gabriel Moreno on the 40-man in the minors.
A few other notes from today: the Jays placed LHP Tim Mayza on the 15-day IL with left forearm inflammation, while LHP Andrew Vasquez was recalled from AAA and will be active tonight against the Rays ahead of a six-game homestand.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director a …

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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

Pre-Series Notes: Robbie Ray isn’t scheduled to start for the Mariners as they head to Toronto

Another series loss, this time to the Rays in Tampa, has the Blue Jays at 18-17 for the season.

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, it isn’t all too surprising the Blue Jays have a mediocre record in mid-May given the schedule they’ve had early on. That said, I also wouldn’t blame anybody for being uninspired by this group right now, especially based on how they’ve played against the Yankees and Rays, the teams they’re competing with for the American League East.
Next up, the Blue Jays will face a handful of teams they might be competing with for wild-card spots down the road. They’ll face the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins later in May and will kick things off by hosting the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners are also off to a disappointing start this year. After bullshitting their way to a 90-72 record due largely to an absurd record in one-run games, but after signing the reigning AL Cy Young winner in the off-season, the Mariners came into 2022 with legitimate playoff aspirations.
So far not as good as Seattle is 16-19 on the season.
Like the Blue Jays, Seattle started off quite well but they’ve gone cold since the start of May. They held an 11-6 record after sweeping the R …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 73: Yusei Kikuchi’s best start as a Blue Jay salvages a difficult series against the Yankees

For the first time all season, the Blue Jays have lost a series.

The Yankees rolled into town on a nine-game heater and proved, well, why they’re on a nine-game heater. New York took the first two games of the series with ridiculously effective pitching and some clutch hitting and then the Blue Jays edged out a win in the finale to save themselves from the sweep.
Me and BK talked about why the bats are struggling, whether or not adding Teoscar Hernandez will be the shot of life the bats need, and what Yusei Kikuchi did differently in the best start of his season. We also talked about the possibility of Josh Bell becoming a Blue Jay and looked ahead to the four-game series coming up in Cleveland.
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Bluelines: Once more unto the breach

It’s playoff time. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!! We finally made it. I feel like I’m going to spend the next few hours running through walls in anticipation.
Leafs are the game one favourites at -125
Here we are living in a world where the Leafs are the favourites against the current two time defending Stanley Cup Champions. Something had to go right to get here, but it’s a close one with Tampa paying +105 if they win.
A look at the Leafs playoff futures:

Maple Leafs Playoff Futurespic.twitter.com/TrVnS229HO
— PointsBet Canada (@PointsBetCanada) May 2, 2022

These are some real tall orders and definitely getting ahead of ourselves, but personally, I don’t mind dipping my toes in the water on that Tavares bet with a small amount of coin. With the Matthews line drawing a lot of the tough pairings, and Tavares has proven himself to be a clutch performer in the past, I don’t mind trying hoping for the best on this one.
The Leafs and Lightning both at +1000 to win the cup
Where the Leafs show a slight advantage is in the Eastern Conference matchup. The Leafs are a +500 to win it, and the Lightning a +525. The Leafs are second to the Panthers (+200) in that regard, and are tied with the Lightning for 4th best odds to win the cup.
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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Marlies eliminated, Growlers look to close out first round series, NCAA transfer portal

Nobody tell Jim Mora, it’s time for the playoffs! The Toronto Maple Leafs begin their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, but before we get to the rest of our series preview content here on The Leafs Nation, it’s your weekly Leafs prospect roundup as more and more of Toronto’s prospects have their seasons come to an end.
We do have a couple of news items to get to in this one regarding two prospects entering the NCAA transfer portal, but we begin this week’s edition with the biggest headline of the week in the Toronto Marlies failure to make the playoffs.
Toronto Marlies
As outlined last week, the Marlies needed to capture four out of six possible points to guarantee themselves a spot in the 2022 Calder Cup playoffs. They recorded three heading into their final game of the year and with Rochester’s win on Friday, the Marlies had to at least force overtime to make the postseason.
They fell 5-2 to the Belleville Senators instead.

Final. #MarliesLive pic.twitter.com/mU9YVv9Lht
— Toronto Marlies (@TorontoMarlies) April 30, 2022

It was a difficult season for the Marlies. Young players were thrust into major roles to varying degrees of success and players in significant positions missed lengthy spells due to injury. Those two factors don’t usually combine to result in a playoff team.
Still, given the Marlies resources and expanded AHL playoff format, a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs is the bare minimum and the 2021/22 Marlies failed to reach that expectation.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and Mikhail Abramov were tasked with leading the way down the middle with little professional experience to lean on, a …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs vs. Lightning: Who has the advantage on the blueline?

We know the opponent, it’s time to start diving into the matchups. The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking on the back-to-back defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Today, we begin breaking down the individual matchups in the upcoming series, beginning on defence. In past seasons, the defence has been a major criticism of the Maple Leafs, but enter the 2022 edition of the postseason with a very deep group. With as many as eight legitimate NHL options if everyone is healthy, Toronto will have some tough decisions to make for Game 1 and beyond.
On the Lightning side, the defence will consist of the clear group of seven that they have used almost exclusively all season long. How those players line up, and who is on the outside looking in, remains to be seen. In the final week of the season, Tampa Bay experimented with different pairings from their usual lineup construction and even dressed seven defencemen, as did Toronto.
The 1st Pair
Both Tampa Bay and Toronto broke up their most-used defence pairings late in the season. Fo …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

The schedule for the Maple Leafs playoff redemption tour

It’s been a long time coming, but we are finally at the point where the Maple Leafs can begin righting the wrongs of last season. Sheldon Keefe let it slip in his media availability following the Leafs clinching second place in the Atlantic that Toronto would indeed be playing on Monday night to kick start the 2022 playoffs, but we now have the full first round calendar against the Lightning, including that all important Game seven at home.
Monday, May 2: Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Wednesday, May 4: Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Friday, May 6: Maple Leafs at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET (TBS, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
Sunday, May 8: Maple Leafs at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET (TBS, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Tuesday, May 10: Lightning at Maple Leafs, TBD
*Thursday, May 12: Maple Leafs at Lightning, TBD
*Saturday, May 14: Lightning at Maple Leafs, TBD
Here’s a look at what the Leafs are getting themselves into with the Lightning:
Lightning has struck twice. That’s more than enough

Interestingly enough the Leafs manage to go the entire round without either a back to back or a two day off section in the schedule. There wasn’t any attempt to force a Saturday night game for the Leafs in the first four games, and the NHL left the possibility of a Saturday night game until game seven.
You’ll probably notice the slightly later start time for some of those games, that appears to be an attempt to stagger start times in the first round between other series going on. Boston and Carolina are the 7pm start time games. The downside is the later start for the Leafs, the upside is there will probably be hockey you can watch instead of intermission panels in the first round.
So now we play the waiting game and enjoy one last weekend with our families before the all consuming NHL pl …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Past playoff failures mean the Leafs are dealing with tough expectations

One year ago around this time, the Leafs were settling into clinching the North Division. They cruised through most of the season, and even when they took their foot off the gas the lead they had built was insurmountable enough that Toronto easily took the North. In contrast, the Canadiens spent much of their last month clawing their way back up the standings past a Flames team that had run out of gas. The Maple Leafs were primed to easily march through two rounds of North Division competition and face whatever the Pacific Division could throw at them. Seemingly there was never going to be a better year to believe in the Leafs as a Stanley Cup contender.
Obviously, the Leafs failed. There is no other way to put it. And that set off the vitriol of criticism around pretty much every member of the Leafs top four forwards, Kyle Dubas, Manny Malhotra, and eventually pretty much every Leaf at one point or another. Kyle Dubas doubled down on his group and was backed up by Brendan Shanahan. With that doubling down seemed to be the continuation of the preceding year’s expectations to not only win a playoff round but put forth a legitim …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Kevin Gausman sets franchise record walkless streak

Early on in his time in the six, Kevin Gausman has been everything and more for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Last night he went six innings against the Boston Red Sox striking out nine batters, allowing four hits and just one run. Of his 88 pitches, 62 were called strikes and 19 of them were whiffs.
But that’s not the most significant part as Gausman set a franchise record walkless streak facing 91 batters allowing exactly zero walks. By the end of yesterday’s 6-5 come from behind win, that rose up to 95.
As noted by Chris Black, the previous record was held by Paul Quantrill in the 2001 season, when he went walkless against 90 batters. Jimmy Key hit the 80 mark in 1990, while J.A. Happ hit 73 in 2017.

“Howdy. I’m the Splitter Sheriff” – @KevinGausman
pic.twitter.com/zR5rEnUwCB
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 27, 2022

According to Baseball Savant, his K% is in the 84th percentile, his BB% is in the 95th percentile, his whiff% is in the 88th percentile and his chase rate? All the way at the top in the 100th percentile. Solid numbers to start the year.
A lot of this is coming from Gausman’s splitter, which has absolutely been carving opponents up in his four games and 24.2 IP. He’s thrown it 112 times so far this season allowing a .125 batting average and an impressive whiff% of 51.8 percent.
The Jays play their third of four games against the Boston Red Sox tonight before the Houston Astros and New York Yankees visit the Rogers Centre.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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Author: Zach Laing / Blue Jays Nation

The depth of skill on the Leafs should make life easier for their star offensive talent

The last time the Leafs were in the playoffs it didn’t go so well. This is a statement that seems to ring true every year, but last year seemed to carry with it the highest expectations of a season since the glory days of Pat Quinn. Frankly, the Leafs weren’t supposed to lose, and whether you want to brush it off as Carey Price playing some of the best hockey of his career, or the impact of losing players like Tavares and Muzzin, and others like Hyman and Foligno not being at 100%, the decision is up to you, but with Tavares out of the round due to his injury, and the Canadiens effectively neutralizing the Matthews and Marner line, it really just left William Nylander to carry the load. That didn’t work, and there probably needs to be steps taken to avoid that happening again.
One of the things that perhaps needs to be addressed is that the Canadiens didn’t really shut down the Matthews-Marner-Hyman line. Carey Price did. Ben Chiarot certainly threw some hits, but it didn’t impede Matthews, Hyman, and Marner being 3 of the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation