Injuries, inconsistencies are severly testing Blue Jays’ bullpen as trade deadline nears

Like most clubs, the Toronto Blue Jays have relied heavily on their bullpen throughout the first half of the 2022 season and while that’s resulted in several one-run victories, it’s also led to a very taxing workload, particularly as of late.

When your starting rotation pitches deep into games, more often than not, your bullpen will be well-rested when called upon to record the last few outs. That was the case for the Blue Jays early on, especially when starters Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah took the mound. And Yusei Kikuchi for a brief time, too.
Lately, however, Toronto’s starting rotation has largely struggled to cover many innings as José Berríos and others have failed to provide length. Currently, their starters are tied for the 11th-fewest innings pitched (125.1) among all 30 teams in June, according to FanGraphs. Not to mention, they also rank 17th in ERA (4.45) and OPP AVG (.259). That’s less than ideal.
Add in the season-ending injury to Hyun Jin Ryu, forcing Ross Stripling out of his multi-inning role and back into the rotation before he could be fully stretched out, and this results in an unsustainable workload for the bullpen. And the cracks are starting to show.
This month, the Blue Jays’ bullpen has been one of the most overworked units in the majors, as they’ve faced the fourth-most batters (427) and have logged the fifth-most innings pitched (98.1). As you can imagine, covering all these innings hasn’t been a recipe for success. In total, they’ve posted the second-worst OPP AVG (.274), the fifth-highest ERA (4.94) and the ninth-lowest left-on-base percentage (68.7 per cent).


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Author: Thomas Hall / Blue Jays Nation

Toronto Raptors free agent profile: Bucks SG Pat Connaughton

Toronto Raptors free agent profile: Bucks SG Pat Connaughton

The Toronto Raptors have already done most of the heavy lifting when it comes to building their squad into a viable playoff team, but Masai Ujiri might need one or two more big-name free agent signings to fill in the cracks on the roster. Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton could be Ujiri’s perfect veteran bench […]
Toronto Raptors free agent profile: Bucks SG Pat Connaughton – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Raptors G League coach Patrick Mutombo joins Suns as assistant

Raptors G League coach Patrick Mutombo joins Suns as assistant

The Toronto Raptors have been one of the league’s most consistent winners over the last decade, as Dwane Casey and Nick Nurse have made them a ubiquitous postseason presence and NBA champion. Assistant coaches like Patrick Mutombo rarely get tons of credit, but they are integral parts of the squad. Mutombo joined the Raptors in […]
Raptors G League coach Patrick Mutombo joins Suns as assistant – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

The Dubas playbook includes looking at RFAs that might not be qualified

One of the things I like most about Kyle Dubas is that he approaches free agency. Last year he went all-in on Bunting’s upside and rolled the dice on a couple of free agents (Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie) that didn’t receive qualifying offers from their current team. To me, that’s a far better way to spend free agency than throwing money at a player exiting their prime. Instead, he’s paying young players for the players they are today knowing there could still be some untapped potential.
Elliotte Friedman’s radio hit on The Jeff Marek Show today brings people like me some joy. 
The gist of it is that it is highly likely that there could be more restricted free agents than ever before that won’t be receiving qualifying offers. That’s exciting because there are definitely some good names out there.
The two main driving factors in players not receiving a qualifying offer are if they have arbitration rights. Arbitration rights mean that teams would essentially have to accept the arbitrator’s ruling up to $4.5M and in a lot of cases there is the potential for some overpayments. There are 46 arbitration eligible restricted free agents this offseason, including Pierre Engvall, Joseph Duszak and Ondrej Kase. It’s entirely possible the Leafs will be one of the teams forced to cut their losses with good players because of the leverage the player …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Why Nick Robertson is deserving of an extended look with the Maple Leafs this fall

The thing that Nick Robertson needs most is a full-time NHL gig and I think he’ll get that with the Maple Leafs next season.
After the 20-year-old returned from a four-month layoff due to injury, there was a different look to his game. Robertson seemed to be as confident as ever at a time when it just didn’t seem possible. Coming off an injury like a broken leg, there’s usually a period where a player is getting used to everything again.
Not Robertson, though.
The work that he and the Maple Leafs’ return-to-play staff did together allowed for Robertson to come back to the Marlies as good as ever. The 20-year-old averaged a point-per-game in his final 26 games of the season.
It wasn’t just the points that made Robertson stand out more this time around in the AHL. He seemed more confident with and without the puck, not forcing plays to come to him, but getting in better spots for better looks.
It also seemed like the 20-year-old got stronger on the puck while he was nursing his broken leg.
Robertson wasn’t getting pus …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Timberwolves trying to take Masai Ujiri from Raptors is total nonsense

Timberwolves trying to take Masai Ujiri from Raptors is total nonsense

The Toronto Raptors have been one of the most consistent winners in the NBA over the last few seasons, as Masai Ujiri has done an impeccable job of turning them into a solid franchise and sustaining that success. Teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves have tried their hardest to emulate that philosophy. MLB legend Alex Rodriguez […]
Timberwolves trying to take Masai Ujiri from Raptors is total nonsense – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Was Raptors’ Nick Nurse disrespected in Coach of the Year voting?

Was Raptors’ Nick Nurse disrespected in Coach of the Year voting?

The Toronto Raptors were one of the most surprising teams in the NBA last season, going from the No. 4 overall pick to a No. 5 seed that won two playoff games. Nick Nurse was able to pull off some miraculous feats in getting a somewhat thin Raptors roster as far as they went. In […]
Was Raptors’ Nick Nurse disrespected in Coach of the Year voting? – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Leafs Prospect Roundup: Kressler’s Game 7 heroics, Marlies end of season recap

One more, folks! With most leagues around the world wrapped up or in the midst of their playoffs, just about every Toronto Maple Leafs prospect has finished their 2021/22 season. As such, rather than give you the same update every Monday morning on the three Maple Leafs prospects that are playing in their respective playoffs, this will be the last prospect roundup for the season.
Don’t worry, though, as we’ll still have lots of prospect coverage here at TLN as we look back on various prospects’ seasons in the coming weeks and look ahead to the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
But before we get to all of that, I’ve got one more prospect roundup in store for you! And we’ve got quite a bit to get to.
Braeden Kressler | C | Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Undrafted free agent signing Braeden Kressler had a tough 2021/22 campaign, interrupted with injury and a move down the Flint Firebirds’ lineup after a strong development camp and rookie tournament performance with the Maple Leafs that saw him earn a contract.
A huge showing that helped Flint prevail in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Owen Sound Attack made that disappointment and frustration go away.
Lining up as the fourth line centre, Kressler was instrumental in Flint surviving a fi …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Opinion: The NHLPA needs to get it right when they replace Donald Fehr

In the days leading up to May Day, one of the most important days in organized labour, the NHLPA decided to make a change at the top:
From Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff:
For the first time in the 55-year history of the NHL Players’ Association, it appears a peaceful transition of power will be in order for hockey’s player union.
The NHLPA announced on Friday night that the union’s executive board voted this week to appoint a search committee to begin finding a successor to executive director Don Fehr.
To say the NHLPA is a mess is a bit of an understatement. The past few years have seen a frozen salary cap, few developments to benefit player safety, two missed Olympics, and numerous ignored cases of sexual and racial abuse. Little was done to benefit struggling alumni and their families. In fact, it’s hard to see what if anything was gained by the NHLPA. Donald Fehr was just quicker to compromise with ownership to keep the lights on and I guess with short careers, missing as few games as possible to a lockout seems like the right decision at the time.
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Donald Fehr’s time as the Executive Director of the NHLPA was simply about achieving the best possible deal when it comes to escrow payments. The players hate escrow. Rightfully so, but the fight for escrow cost the players in so many other areas, and honestly for the little return players receive from the owners in their collective agreement, for over half the league it probably would have been more beneficial to disband the NHLPA and negotiate directly with the teams without the restrictions imposed on them in their binding contract.
When it gets to the point where the union is hurting its members it’s time for a change, and to be fair to Donald Fehr, the NHLPA seemed to be there before his arrival and him being bad at achieving meaningful results might still be regarded as an upgrade over some of the hucksters who have occupied his office previously.
The problem with the change is it seems to be an exercise in maintaining the status quo, not improving. The search committee is going to be made up largely of players, and that is important as it is their interests at stake here. It just might be asking a lot of players to know the finer points of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs vs. Lightning: Leafs edge the Lightning when it comes to the forward group

The Leafs can go up against most forward groups in the league and end up feeling pretty good about how they measure up to the opposition. Tampa Bay is one of the few teams in the league that does warrant a bit of a closer look, and depending on which group is clicking at the moment either one of these teams could feel they have the best group.
Given that we’re already pretty familiar with who the Leafs have, let’s start by diving into what makes the Tampa group so special.
From a high end production standpoint it was Steven Stamkos taking the reigns this season from Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos found his way over the 40 goal mark again, and crossed the 100 point mark, tying Auston Matthews for 6th in the league in scoring at 106 points, albeit Stamkos played 81 games.
Looking at who is next on the weapons list you have Nikita Kucherov who missed a substantial amount of time again this season and was held to just 69 nice points. The interesting aspect there is he put up those numbers in just 47 games. If he had been healthy he would have been scoring at a McDavid pace.
The next player …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation