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Blue Jays' pitching finally backing elite bats – MLB.com

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For nearly two years, the Blue Jays were best known as baseball’s nomads. Calling Dunedin, Fla., and Buffalo, N.Y., home while the Canadian border was closed, and thanks to a handful of 2020 split doubleheaders where they were the “home” team in someone else’s park, the Jays have had six different “home fields” in the last two seasons. (A number that will rise to seven when they do it again in Anaheim on Tuesday.)

For the last two months, they’ve been something far different. Since June 19, they’re 27-15, the best record in the American League. Only four teams in the AL have a weaker remaining strength of schedule than the Blue Jays, who are done with the Red Sox but still have 17 more to play against the Orioles and decimated Twins.

The Blue Jays might be in fourth place in their own division, but they’re just one game out in the loss column from a Wild Card spot, and only two from the first Wild Card spot. All year, the non-travel story of their season has been “run differential,” in that they’ve played like one of baseball’s best teams, yet not had the record to show for it, thanks largely to repeated bullpen meltdowns. Finally, finally, they’re getting the results to go with those impressive numbers, and it’s not too late to find them boosted into October because of it.

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Here’s how the Blue Jays have made it back to this point — and what they need to do in order to keep it going.

Let’s start with two charts. The first one is just for fun. This is the win probability chart of Sunday’s wild 9-8 comeback win over Boston, which shows you in visual form just how stunning of a victory it was. Springer’s go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning was the single biggest play of the season for Toronto.

The second is the important one. All year long, we’ve talked about their run differential, in that they score many more runs than their opponents do, yet haven’t had the results to show for it. On July 1, for example, Toronto had outscored its opponents by 64 runs, the seventh-largest figure in baseball. The six teams ahead of the Blue Jays were over .500 by at least 15 games. Toronto, meanwhile, was merely 41-38.

As things stand today, the Blue Jays have outscored their opponents by 123 runs, the most in the AL East, and the fourth-most in baseball behind only the Dodgers, Giants and Astros. But more importantly, look at the trend. It was good to start. It’s improved each and every month.

Sometimes there’s a hard-to-find secret to how teams or players turn their seasons around. Maybe it’s a new pitch or swing or team-wide change in approach. And sometimes, it’s pretty simple. This is one of those cases:

The pitching stopped being terrible.

That’s it! That’s the entire trick. Look, it’s not the offense, which is all but tied with the Dodgers as baseball’s second-best run scoring unit behind Houston; after a decent start, Toronto’s offense has been consistently very good.

April: 4.46 runs/game, 11th
May: 5.50 runs/game, 6th
June: 5.46 runs/game, 3rd
July: 5.22 runs/game, 5th

So far in August, they’re holding steady, at 5.33 runs/game.

(If that consistency is surprising, given that George Springer missed almost all of the first three months of the season and has been red-hot in the second half — entering Sunday, he was batting .353/.411/.776 since the All-Star Game, then singled and homered against the Red Sox — it’s because his performance is making up for disappointing second-half lines from Randal Grichuk and Cavan Biggio, as well as the fact that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been more “pretty good” than “all-world” as he was in the first half.)

It’s not the defense, which was very bad to start, got a little better, but has generally been consistently unimpressive. We’ll use Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric for this look; overall, the Jays are 23rd in MLB here.

April: -10, tied 30th
May: +4, 10th
June: -3, 21st
July: -7, 27th

It is the run prevention, which in most cases is “pitching+defense,” but as we just showed, it’s not really the fielding that’s showing up in Toronto.

April: 3.75 runs allowed/game, 8th
May: 4.61 runs allowed/game, 17th
June: 4.42 runs allowed/game, 13th
July: 3.73 runs allowed/game, 4th

So far in August: Just 3.11 runs allowed/game.

This is, overwhelmingly, it, though it’s maybe not the it you think it’s going to be, because if you’re a Blue Jays fan, or even a baseball fan who has watched at least one Toronto game this year, you know what the team’s primary weakness has been: the bullpen. There was the time Tyler Chatwood walked five as the Blue Jays blew a 4-0 lead to Cleveland. There was the time that Anthony Castro entered with a 5-3 lead and proceeded to go homer, double, wild pitch, strikeout, wild pitch, as they lost 6-5 to the Yankees. There were so many times.

“No one’s panicking,” manager Charlie Montoyo said after relievers Patrick Murphy and Jeremy Beasley allowed five runs in the eighth inning in a loss to Baltimore on June 18, which is definitely a thing managers say when they know everyone is panicking. He was right; note we said above that they have the second-best record in baseball since June 19.

So you might be thinking: “Well, I’ve seen my team make just a ton of bullpen roster moves, and the pitching staff is allowing far fewer runs, so they finally fixed that leaky bullpen, right?”

Sort of, but not exactly. Let’s stipulate that yes, they did make just a ton of moves, understandably, because the April-to-June Toronto bullpen was tied for baseball’s second worst in high-leverage spots.

This is where we’d like to show you that in July and August, the bullpen, reinforced by a ton of new faces, has been markedly better in high-leverage situations. We can’t. Not because they haven’t or haven’t been good … because there haven’t been high-leverage situations, the kind of plate appearances defined by the right combination of inning, score, outs and runners on base.

April-June Blue Jays bullpen: 198 high-leverage plate appearances (14th most)

July-August Blue Jays bullpen: 17 high-leverage plate appearances (fewest, by a lot)

In 32 games since July 1, the Toronto bullpen has seen all of 17 high-leverage situations, an average of barely one every other game. The next fewest is by Kansas City, with 48; the most is Cincinnati, with a whopping 122 such plate appearances. It’s nice, we guess, that the Blue Jays have the second-highest strikeout rate in those spots, but it also doesn’t matter, because we’re talking 17 high-leverage plate appearances.

That, in large part, is thanks to the improved starting rotation. (And the offense, of course, though that’s been good all season). Toronto’s rotation was 22nd-best in April, 19th-best in May, and 18th-best in June, as it struggled to find reliable arms around Hyun-Jin Ryu, Robbie Ray, and at times, Steven Matz.

In late May, rookie Alek Manoah arrived, and he’s been strong (2.57 ERA in 10 starts). José Berríos was acquired from the Twins on July 30 at high cost, and he’s been spectacular (one run allowed in 10 innings.) Ross Stripling, who seemed on the verge of losing his job as his ERA soared past 7.00 in mid-May, has a 3.39 ERA over his last dozen starts. Ryu overcame a June slump, and the July/August rotation has been spectacular: 4th-best FIP, 2nd-best ERA. Blue Jays starters have thrown the 10th-most innings during that span after throwing the fifth-fewest in the first three months.

That’s a good way to get past a problem that was crippling your season, anyway; refuse to allow it to happen in the first place.

That’s not to say that the bullpen isn’t improved, because it is; it would almost have to be, given all the moves they made.

Compare the 14 pitchers on the Opening Day roster to what you have today, and there’s overlap of exactly five names: Ryu, Matz, Stripling, Jordan Romano, and Rafael Dolis. Think about all that’s happened since.

Tanner Roark, T.J. Zeuch, Joel Payamps and Chatwood, all members of the Opening Day roster, have been designated for assignment, as was early replacement Travis Bergen. Julian Merriweather, so incredibly impressive in early April, has been hurt all year. David Phelps got hurt. A.J. Cole got hurt. Tommy Milone got hurt. Tim Mayza got hurt. Castro got hurt. Nate Pearson made one appearance, then got hurt. Trent Thornton and Ryan Borucki, mainstays of past Toronto staffs, got sent down. We joked after the bad Baltimore loss on June 18 that the Blue Jays needed to completely renovate the bullpen, and they basically did.

Meanwhile, veteran relievers Brad Hand, Joakim Soria, Adam Cimber and Trevor Richards were acquired via trade, and those four have posted a 1.76 combined ERA for Toronto.

But that’s not what’s fueling this; not right now. It’s that the offense has been so good, and the revamped starting rotation (Ryu’s clunker on Sunday aside) has been so strong, that even though the bullpen has been almost completely reinvented, the Blue Jays aren’t even giving the relievers a chance to break things, and if “avoid the problem” isn’t the solution you might have wanted, or would hope to have in October, it’s at least working right now.

In their first 10 games back at the Rogers Centre, the Jays went 8-2, capped off by Sunday’s monumental comeback. “It felt like a playoff game,” said Montoyo. As the Red Sox continue to implode, as the Blue Jays start to soar, maybe in two months Montoyo won’t have to rely on things feeling like playoff games. Maybe there will just be playoff games.

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A Look At Today’s Best Live Dealer Online Casino Games

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Online Casino Games

Some of the most popular games you can play at fully licensed online casinos today are live dealer games, such as Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, TV Game Show-themed live dealer games, and Live Dealer Slots. Here is a closer look at some of the best live dealer games from three leading software providers – Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and OnAir Entertainment.

All of these state-of-the-art live dealer games are now available to play in the real money mode at a fully licensed online casino called Lucky Spins Canada, which is free to sign up to and is currently offering all new Canadian players up to 500 FREE SPINS for Play’n GO’s iconic Book of Dead online slot, plus a 100% matching deposit bonus worth up to C$500.

Top 10 Live Dealer Games in the Spotlight

Here are ten of the best live dealer casino games that you must check out. These games have wide betting ranges that cater to low rollers and high rollers alike (and pretty much all other betting ranges in between low rollers and high rollers), and you can often play one round/hand/spin from as little as C$0.10 to C$0.50 up to C$1,000.00 or more.

The top ten live dealer games from Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, OnAir Entertainment, Betgames.tv, Ezugi, and eBET that you must check out include the following mixture of live table & card games, live slots, and television game show live dealer games:

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  • Live PowerUp Roulette from Pragmatic Play
  • Live Andar Bahar from Ezugi
  • Live Teen Patti from Ezugi
  • Live XXXtreme Lightning Roulette from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Crazy Coin Flip from Evolution Gaming
  • MONOPOLY Live from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Wheel of Fortune from Betgames.tv
  • Live Airwave Roulette from OnAir Entertainment
  • Live Black Sports Arena from OnAir Entertainment
  • Bet On Poker Live from Betgames.tv

How old do I have to be to play live casino games?

To play live dealer games at online casinos, such as Lucky Spins, you generally need to be at least 18 years old. However, always check because, in some regions where online gambling is legal, it could be 21 or 20 years old.

What devices can I play live dealer games from?

You can play live dealer games from all of the providers mentioned above using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Just make sure that it has decent Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Most games can be launched instantly in your web browser, plus you also generally have the option to download and install a free casino app directly onto your smartphone or tablet and then play from within the secure app.

What to remember when playing for real money

When playing for real money, don’t forget to set deposit limits where possible. Don’t ever chase your losses because it may result in you losing even more money, and don’t gamble just for the sake of it. Try and have fun, and always remember to gamble responsibly. Gambling is meant to be fun, so if you aren’t having fun anymore, it might be a good idea to take a break from gambling for a while.

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Gambling in Ireland vs. Canada

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Regulation of Online Gambling in Ontario: The Fight Against Black-Market Operators Continues

Gambling has traditionally played a significant role in Irish society. Naturally, the advancement of technology has changed how Irish gamblers conduct their business. Because of cell phones, placing bets is now simpler than ever (You could check here for a few trustworthy ones). However, Irish individuals must be cognizant of the country’s licensing laws.

Irish gamers can wager on bingo, lotteries, casino games, poker, sports, and more about the regulated and licensed gambling websites, making internet gambling in Ireland a multi-million-dollar business. This is not so dissimilar from the humongous gambling industry in Canada. For the past couple of years, gambling practices have been on the rise in Canada. So in today’s article, we’ll be looking at how gambling has fared in Ireland vs. Canada.

 

Ireland

According to the most recent statistics from Ireland from 2022, approximately half of the Irish population (49%) partakes in gambling, while its estimated prevalence for gambling addiction is 0.3%, meaning there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. Since only a small percentage of those with an issue with betting seek treatment, there is a need to try and understand Irish gambling behavior and treatment adoption.

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According to industry statistics, Irish gamblers ended up losing over €1.36 billion the year before last, or around €300 on average for every person, ranking them as the fourth-largest gamblers throughout the EU. According to industry researchers H2 Gambling Capital, Ireland places 14th internationally for the biggest median gambling losses, comfortably ahead of the UK but behind Sweden (€325 per adult), Malta (€334), and Finland (€342).

Revenue rose €51.9 million in conventional betting duty revenues and €40.6 million in online betting receipts in 2019, almost twice as much as the corresponding amounts from the preceding year ($28.9 million & €21.7 million, respectively). Sports betting is the most well-liked online form of gambling, comprising over 41% of the industry and bringing in €10 billion in 2019, claims the European Gaming and Betting Association.

Instead of using desktop computers, over 44% of all internet wagers are placed from a phone or tablet. By 2025, it is anticipated that approximately 6 out of 10 online wagers will be placed using mobile devices. Despite representing just 1.1% of the total population, Ireland generates 2.6% of Europe’s online gambling market in terms of revenue, according to the H2 data.

 

 

Canada

Like many other nations, Canada has a large gambling industry. The majority of gamblers don’t suffer any consequences, but a small percentage will. The number of gambling options in Canada has grown over the years, and new gambling innovations like online poker & sports betting have increased the significance of more thorough and ongoing oversight.

A study used information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to assess gambling and gambling-related issues among adults aged 15 and over. Those who may be at risk of developing a problem with gambling are identified using a Problem Gambling Index. This evaluates problem gambling behavior and the effects of that behavior on the individual or others.

Of the 18.9 million Canadians aged 15 and over, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) reported betting in the previous year, & 1.6% of those gamblers were exposed to a substantial risk of gambling-related issues. Men were more prone than women to file gambling in the previous year across all age categories. Additionally, men were more likely to have a relatively high risk of developing gambling-related issues.

Though they were more prone to developing gambling problems, people in lower social households were less inclined to wager than those of relatively high-earning households.

 

For instance,

 

  • 1% of Canadians at significantly higher risk for gambling issues were among the 71.5% of those living in higher-earning households who reported betting in the last year.
  • 8% of people from low-income families gambled in the preceding year, and 2.7% of them were at moderate to high risk for developing gambling addictions.

 

The likelihood of gambling-related issues rose with the quantity of casino games played.

In the multivariate analyses, the majority of factors, such as engaging in various gambling activities, living single (or separated or divorced), being unmarried, and possessing poor or fair mental well-being, remained independently related to gambling problems.

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Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman

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John Herdman, Head Coach of Canada, reacts during a press conference at the Main Media Center on Nov. 30, during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.

Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.

Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”

Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?

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Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.

Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?

But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.

Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.

In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.

Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.

A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.

That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.

So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?

This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.

As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.

Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.

Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?

Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.

Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?

Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.

If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.

Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.

So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.

Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.

Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.

A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?

Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.

Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.

At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.

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