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Blue Jays To Acquire Jordan Hicks From Cardinals

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3:21pm: Toronto officially announced the trade. To clear a roster spot for Hicks, right-hander Mitch White has been designated for assignment.

3:05pm: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports that the full trade will send Hicks to Toronto in exchange for Kloffenstein and fellow Double-A right-hander Sem Robberse.

2:58pm: Per Robert Murray of Fansided, Double-A right-hander Adam Kloffenstein is headed to St. Louis in exchange for Hicks, though Murray notes it’s unclear if other players are involved.

2:36pm: The Cardinals have begun their selloff by trading right-hander Jordan Hicks to the Blue Jays, per Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. The return headed back to St. Louis is not currently known. Hicks had previously been reported to be discussing an extension with the Cardinals ahead of the trade deadline on August 1, though those discussions seemingly stalled out earlier in the week.

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Hicks, 26, was a third-round pick in the 2015 draft by the Cardinals. He made his big league debut back in 2018 and threw 77 2/3 innings in his first big league season, with a 3.59 ERA and 3.74 FIP. While he generated an impressive 60.7% groundball rate in his rookie campaign, he posted a lackluster 20.6% strikeout rate and struggled badly with his control to the point of walking 13.3% of batters faced. Early on in his sophomore 2019 season, Hicks required Tommy John surgery. That surgery began a series of injuries and setbacks that would limit him to just 38 2/3 innings of work from 2019-21.

Finally fully healthy in 2022, the Cardinals decided to try using Hicks as a member of the rotation. That experiment did not go well, as Hicks posted a 5.84 ERA and 5.54 FIP in 24 2/3 innings of work across seven starts while walking a whopping 16% of batters faced over that stretch. While he pitched a bit better upon returning to the bullpen, he nonetheless finished the 2022 campaign with 4.84 ERA and 13.3% walk rate in 61 1/3 innings of work.

The 2023 campaign started off difficultly for Hicks once again, as he yielded a whopping nine runs (eight earned) in just 5 2/3 innings of work in his first seven appearances of the year. Since then, however, he’s settled in as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball over the past few months. Since April 18, Hicks sports a 2.25 ERA and a sterling 1.92 FIP in 36 innings of work. He’s cut his walk rate to 10.4% in that time, a figure that, while somewhat elevated, is more than made up for by a phenomenal 34.4% strikeout rate. Hicks also sports a characteristically excellent 58.3% groundball rate this season, a figure that has led him to allow just two home runs all season, and none since he got his season back on track in mid-April.

Hicks’s dominant arm makes him a perfect candidate for Toronto’s bullpen, as the Blue Jays lost closer Jordan Romano to the 15-day injured list earlier this weekend thanks to lower back inflammation. While it’s possible Romano will return fairly quickly after the minimum 15-day stint, he’s been plagued by the issue since it caused him to depart the All Star game earlier this month. Still, it would hardly be a surprise to see the Blue Jays take additional time to ensure their closer is fully healthy upon his return given both the nagging nature of the issue and the importance of Romano, who leads the AL with 28 saves this season and sports a 2.79 ERA in 42 innings this season, to the club’s success.

In return for Hicks’s services, the Blue Jays are paying a hefty prospect toll. Robberse appears to be the headliner in the deal as the club’s seventh-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline and their sixth-best prospect according to Fangraphs. Originally signed out of the Netherlands back in 2019, the 21-year-old hurler sports a 92-94 mph fastball, quality secondary offerings in both a changeup and a slider, and plus command. In 113 1/3 innings of work at the Double-A level, Robberse owns a 3.97 ERA and a strikeout rate of 22%.

Kloffenstein, meanwhile, goes unranked on both Pipeline’s and Fangraphs’s lists. Fangraphs describes Kloffenstein as a pitcher with a four-pitch mix highlighted by a sinker and a slider, though it ultimately pegs him as more of an innings-eating, depth starter type. That evaluation, however, is from prior to the 2023 campaign, where Kloffenstein has impressed to this point. Toronto’s third-round pick in the 2018 draft has shoved across 89 innings of work at Double-A this season to the tune of a 3.24 ERA with a strikeout rate of 27.6%, a figure well above his career rate of 23.5% entering the 2023 campaign.

Both Kloffenstein and Robberse clearly fit the mold of return the Cardinals have reportedly been looking for in dangling their rental arms this summer: controllable, upper-level starting pitching prospects. Both Robberse and Kloffenstein project as starters going forward and have over 100 innings of experience at Double-A, with Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat noting that both hurlers are set to be promoted to Triple-A by the Cardinals organization. Given that promotion, it seems reasonable to assume both pitchers will be on the big league radar for sometime in 2024, barring injury or ineffectiveness changing the timeline.

The deal also spells the end of White’s time in Toronto. A second-round selection by the Dodgers in the 2016 draft, White impressed with a 3.44 ERA and 3.78 FIp in 49 2/3 innings of work across his first two seasons in the majors. He continued his success in a Dodgers uniform in 2022 with a 3.70 ERA and 3.95 FIP in 56 innings of work, but the club dealt White to Toronto at the trade deadline last season. Since joining the Blue Jays, White has struggled mightily, with a 7.60 ERA in 55 2/3 innings of work. While he posted a 4.03 FIP that far outstrips his results as a member of the Jays, his walk rate has ticked up to 11.7% this season, a level unlikely to be sustainable given his mediocre 21.7% strikeout rate. Going forward, Toronto will have one week to either waive or release White, assuming he himself isn’t traded before the deadline on August 1.

 

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Garnacho on target as United beats Crystal Palace in League Cup defence

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Seven months after lifting the trophy, Manchester United made a successful start to its defense of the English League Cup on Tuesday by beating Crystal Palace 3-0.

Alejandro Garnacho and Casemiro fired the holders into a 2-0 first-half lead at Old Trafford and Anthony Martial added a third after the break in the third-round match.

It is now back-to-back wins for Erik ten Hag’s team, which has endured a disappointing start to the season.

The dominant performance against an understrength Palace followed Saturday’s narrow victory at Burnley and will give United fans hope the team has turned its form around.

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“The mood is always good, but of course when you are not winning at United there is disappointment, and there is frustration, but the togetherness is always there,” Ten Hag said. “We know we are not now in the position where we want to be. So we have to build up, we have to catch up and then you have to go from game to game, working on the process and working on the results. Don’t get too far ahead.”

The League Cup ranks fourth among English soccer’s most important trophies. But Ten Hag still savored last season’s success.

Victory against Newcastle in February’s final at Wembley Stadium ended the club’s six-year wait for a trophy and saw Ten Hag deliver silverware in his first season at the club. He went on to also reach the FA Cup final, only to lose to Manchester City, and also guided United back into the Champions League to mark an impressive campaign.

Things have not gone so well this term, with his team losing four out of five games before beating Burnley 1-0.

This latest victory was far more convincing, even if Palace benched regular starters Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Joachim Anderson and was also without forward Odsonne Edouard.

Ten Hag also made changes with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Rasmus Hojlund on the bench and Christian Eriksen absent.

Mason Mount, however, made his first appearance since Aug. 19 after returning from an injury.

Garnacho fired United ahead in the 21st minute after converting Diogo Dalot’s cutback in the box.

His low shot had too much power for Palace goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who had only just come on as a substitute for the injured Dean Henderson.

Johnstone was tested again moments later when Dalot blasted an effort from an angle, which the keeper blocked.

He was beaten again, however, in the 27th, this time by Casemiro, who headed in Mount’s corner to double United’s lead.

Martial added a third 10 minutes into the second half when firing across goal after meeting Casemiro’s looping ball to the far post.

United plays Palace again in the Premier League on Saturday and the Londoners showed their threat when twice forcing saves from ‘keeper Andre Onana later in the match. But manager Roy Hodgson did not sound confident about securing a different outcome when the teams next meet.

“We are going to have to become a totally different team in the way we approach the game and the way we play the game,” he said.

CUP UPSETS

Third-division Exeter produced a shock 1-0 win against Luton to knock the Premier League club out of the competition. Luton made 10 changes from the team that picked up its first topflight point of the season against Wolverhampton on Saturday, but the result will still go down as a big upset. Demetri Mitchell scored the winner in the 83rd, but Exeter had to see out the game with 10 men after he was sent off in the 88th.

Wolverhampton was also eliminated after throwing away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at second-division Ipswich. Hwang Hee-Chan and Toti Gomes had seemingly put the visitors on course for the next round after goals inside the first 15 minutes. But Omari Hutchinson, Freddie Ladapo and Jack Taylor sealed a comeback win for Ipswich.

BURNLEY ADVANCES

Burnley is still waiting for its first win in the league this season, but it is powering on in the cup after a 4-0 win against Salford City, the fourth division club co-owned by Manchester United greats including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough beat Bradford 2-0 and Port Vale won 2-1 against Sutton United.

Fourth-division Mansfield beat third-division Peterborough 3-1 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation time. Lucas Akins’ penalty to even the score in the 93rd had sent the game to a shootout.

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James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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Matt Irwin Deserves a Spot on the Canucks’ NHL Roster, Right?

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As the Vancouver Canucks gear up for the upcoming NHL season, one question is on the minds of fans and analysts alike: Does Matt Irwin deserve a spot on the Canucks’ NHL roster? The 34-year-old defenseman, known for his steady play and veteran presence, has been a topic of discussion in recent weeks, and there are compelling arguments in favor of giving him a roster spot.

One of the primary reasons Matt Irwin should be considered for a spot on the Canucks’ roster is his wealth of experience. Irwin has played over 400 games in the NHL, with stints on multiple teams, including the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, and most recently, the Buffalo Sabres. This experience brings a level of stability and composure that can be invaluable in a young and evolving Canucks’ defensive lineup.

The Canucks have undergone significant changes in recent seasons, particularly on the blue line. Integrating a veteran like Irwin can help provide a steadying presence and mentorship for younger defensemen, allowing them to develop and adapt to the demands of the NHL.

Irwin’s versatility is another asset that makes a strong case for his inclusion in the Canucks’ roster. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the ability to play in various defensive pairings and adapt to different playing styles. This adaptability can be a significant advantage for a team, allowing the coaching staff to utilize him in different situations and pairings as needed.

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Furthermore, Irwin is known for his reliability and consistency. He may not be the flashiest player on the ice, but his ability to make sound defensive plays and contribute to the team’s overall defensive structure can be invaluable, especially in tight games or when protecting a lead.

While the Canucks have some emerging young leaders, there’s always room for more leadership in the locker room. Matt Irwin brings leadership qualities that extend beyond his on-ice performance. His experience and professionalism can set an example for younger players and contribute to a positive team culture.

Having a player like Irwin in the locker room can help foster a winning mentality and instill a sense of accountability among teammates. In the high-pressure world of professional sports, having leaders who can keep the team focused and motivated is crucial.

Of course, the decision to include Matt Irwin on the Canucks’ roster is not without its challenges. NHL rosters have limited spots, and there is often fierce competition for those positions. Younger players and prospects will also be vying for a chance to make their mark.

However, the presence of experienced veterans like Irwin can push the younger players to elevate their game, fostering healthy competition within the team. Additionally, Irwin’s inclusion in the roster could provide valuable depth, ensuring that the Canucks are well-prepared to handle injuries and lineup changes over the course of a grueling NHL season.

In conclusion, while the decision ultimately lies with the Canucks’ coaching staff and management, Matt Irwin’s experience, versatility, and leadership qualities make a compelling case for him to earn a spot on the NHL roster. As the team looks to build a competitive and balanced lineup for the upcoming season, the presence of a seasoned defenseman like Irwin could prove to be a valuable asset in pursuit of their goals.

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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada

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Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.

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Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

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