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SIMMONS: Blue Jays needed to sign Hyun-Jin Ryu to let baseball know they're back in the game – Toronto Sun

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Hyun-Jin Ryu is huge.

As in heavier than David Wells. As in 75 pounds more than Marcus Stroman. Huge, as in the largest signing and most significant gamble made by Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, the previous baseball twins of do-nothing and say-nothing, who suddenly have something to say and sell and something to be proud about.

Ryu is a giant from South Korea who doesn’t just pitch. He conducts the orchestra. He controls the environment. He throws what some baseball people call the best changeup in the game.

He doesn’t walk people. He doesn’t give anything away. He’s the ace the Blue Jays haven’t had since that moment in time when Aaron Sanchez led the American League in earned-run average. Ryu led the National League in the same category this past season, which at the age of 32 was his healthiest, strongest, and most complete big-league season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. L.A. wanted him back, but he opted not to return after the Blue Jays dangled $80-million U.S. at him.

There were other teams chasing Ryu. The Los Angeles Angels had interest, as did the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.

And this is where Shapiro and Atkins need to be congratulated: They beat somebody to the finish line. Finally. They weren’t just chasers of Ryu. They won the gold medal in this race.

Being in the race is meaningless off-season talk, especially around here. We’ve heard too much of it over the years. Who cares who is chasing whom? Winning the race — getting your man — that’s all that matters, an indication to Blue Jays fans that they are at least serious about becoming competitive.

Before this signing, with all the garage-sale junk the Jays have accumulated in recent years, it was hard to take Shapiro and Atkins all that seriously. It was hard to believe they weren’t doing anything but paddling in circles.

The Ryu signing may not be a ticket to the post-season, but it is an indication of the credibility of management. This signing paints the Blue Jays as players. This signing brings a certain respect we haven’t seen since 2015. Not unlike the Russell Martin signing in Toronto, this is an overpay, a Lou Lamoriello signing — to use his terminology, too much money, too much term. But to get free agents to come to Toronto, at this time in Blue Jays history, to get them as the Jays languish near the bottom of the American League, they have to overpay and oversell.

And they have done that here.

Ryu,  by the way, is not a sure thing. No free agent ever is. But here’s what we’ve been able to find out about him. He’s considered both a good guy and good pitcher, and he was very popular with Dodgers players and management.

What some wonder about now is the adjustment he will have to make from pitching at Dodger Stadium to pitching at Rogers Centre.

It’s not just National League to American League. The free outs are gone with the switch of leagues. The earned-run average always goes up with that kind of move.

It’s throwing in a pitcher-friendly stadium to throwing at the home-run haven we have in downtown Toronto that will represent a challenge for Ryu.

At home, last season, Ryu was 10-1 with an earned-run average of 1.93. On the road, his ERA rose to 2.72.

He started 29 games: The Dodgers won 20 of them and he ended the season with 182 innings pitched, the most he had thrown since he was a rookie. And the question with Ryu has always been about health. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, he made just 40 starts. In three of his six big-league seasons, he pitched from beginning to end. In between, he couldn’t be relied upon.

One of the two National League scouting eyes I talked to about Ryu said he can really pitch, he really challenges hitters and, in his words, he called him “legit.” But then he listed three words as his cons: Durability, durability and durability.

Was 2019 an indication that he’s gotten past his arm and shoulder troubles.

“How healthy is he doing to be? How many innings is he going to log?” He meant this season and the years that follow.

We don’t care how much it cost to sign him. It’s not our money. We care that Rogers and Atkins and Shapiro are finally using the necessary money to enhance the Blue Jays’ roster and reputation, both of which are in need of some repair.

Hyun-Jin Ryu is not the saviour of anything that doesn’t happen every fifth day during the upcoming season. But he’s a message that Toronto can be a destination. He’s the front end of an improving starting staff on an improving team.

Finally, the Blue Jays stopped chasing, stopped stalling, started spending and came home with a giant-sized, left-handed gift for the holidays.

ssimmons@postmedia.com

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TNF: Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons 10/29/20 NFL Picks, Odds, Predictions – Sports Chat Place

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Atlanta Falcons (1-6) at Carolina Panthers (3-4)

NFL Football: Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 8:20 pm (Bank of America Stadium)

The Line: Carolina Panthers -2.5 — Over/Under: 49
Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers meet Thursday in week 8 NFL action at Bank of America Stadium.

The Atlanta Falcons look for their second road win to rebound from a ritual 1-6 start to the NFL season. The Atlanta Falcons have won five of their last seven road games. Matt Ryan is completing 66.4 percent of his passes for 2,181 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions. Ryan has one or less touchdown passes in four of his last five games. Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones have combined for 1,062 receiving yards and eight touchdowns while Russell Gage has 31 receptions. The Atlanta Falcons ground game is averaging 105.4 yards per contest, and Todd Gurley II leads the way with 485 yards and seven touchdowns. Defensively, Atlanta is allowing 29.6 points and 425.9 yards per game. Foyesade Oluokun leads the Atlanta Falcons with 49 tackles, Grady Jarrett has 2.5 sacks and Blidi Wreh-Wilson has one interception.

The Carolina Panthers look for a spark of consistency after splitting their last six games. The Carolina Panthers have lost six of their last seven home games. Teddy Bridgewater is completing 72.2 percent of his passes for 1,930 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. Bridgewater has two touchdown passes in three of his last four games. Robby Anderson and DJ Moore have combined for 1,207 receiving yards and four touchdowns while Mike Davis has 37 receptions. The Carolina Panthers ground game is averaging 105.4 yards per contest, and Davis leads the way with 284 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Carolina is allowing 24 points and 351.1 yards per game. Shaq Thompson leads the Carolina Panthers with 60 tackles, Brian Burns has three sacks and Donte Jackson has two interceptions.

Wonder who the Top Experts Picked? Click Here To Find Out

The Falcons are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 road games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The Panthers are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 home games, 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games as a favorite and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. The over is 4-1 in Falcons last 5 road games. The under is 4-1 in Panthers last 5 games overall. The Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings. The home team is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 meetings.

The Atlanta Falcons continue to blow fourth quarter leads and at this point players have to be ready for the season to be finished. Frustration has to be setting in and confidence can’t be high, and the Falcons remain one of the worst defensive teams in the league, ranked 31st in total yards and passing yards. The Panthers continue to be hit or miss, but one of their three wins this season was a seven-point win on the road against the Falcons and they just took the Saints down to the wire as big underdogs last week. Neither of these clubs are worldbeaters, but the Panthers have no question shown more fight this season and look like a decent team overall. Not sure how anybody backs the Falcons with confidence given the constant collapses. 

I’ll lay the small chalk with the Panthers at home.

See Who The Experts Picked To Win This One

Randy’s Pick
Carolina Panthers -2.5

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.

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Byfield named to Hockey Canada WJC select camp roster – NHL.com

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The camp will be held at Westerner Park Centrium from Nov. 16-Dec. 13 in Red Deer, Alberta.

Alexis Lafreniere, chosen No. 1 by the New York Rangers in the 2020 draft, was not one of the 46 invitees that includes 26 forwards, 15 defensemen and five goalies. The forward played for Canada in the 2019 and 2020 WJC, and he was named the tournament most valuable player in 2020.

Lafreniere could still be added to the team; the Rangers want Lafreniere to attend NHL training camp, but Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney said more clarity on Lafreniere’s status is expected in about 10 days.

“(Rangers general manager) Jeff Gorton and I had a good chat,” Renney said, “and [I] gave Jeff the opportunity to understand our timetable of what might be coming up with respect to this camp … and well beyond that. With that being said, Jeff was certainly open-minded to the idea, was hoping that his player would have the opportunity to join the NHL team in New York as of now, actually, to begin skating with the club.” 

The event is the final step in picking the team that will play for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. The tournament, to be held Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2021, will be played entirely at Rogers Place in Edmonton without fans in attendance in a secure-zone bubble, similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The IIHF initially was going to utilize Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta as joint hosts.

“I think having an opportunity to be together for 51 days will be special,” Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. “Fortunately for everyone, we’ll have time to be really well prepared so we’re really grateful for it. the coaches spent so many hours on video for scouting and getting prepared. Close to 90 players had been scouting through video and I think we’re really excited and really confident with the group we will have in Red Deer. We can’t wait to get into the bubble.

“This has never happened in the past where Team Canada had the chance to meet together for this long (in a selection camp) and to grow their structure and to grow their chemistry for that long. I think it will be unique, and it will be an outstanding opportunity for us.”

Byfield, a forward, is one of six returnees who helped Canada finish first at the 2020 WJC, along with defensemen Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche, 2019 NHL Draft, No. 4) and Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks, 2020, No. 6) and forwards Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres, 2019, No. 7), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals, 2019, No. 25) and Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils, 2020, No. 18).

To ensure the health and safety of all participants and the community, Hockey Canada will be adhering to enhanced measures around testing and team protocols.

“Although this has been a difficult year for our athletes and staff, we are excited to unveil the 46 players who will compete for a spot on Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada. “We know our athletes are excited for the opportunity to defend gold on home ice this year, and we expect a highly competitive selection camp with a number of difficult decisions to be made when it comes time to select the players who will wear the Maple Leaf in Edmonton in December.”

The selection camp will include practices, three intra-squad games and six games against a team of U SPORTS all-stars before the team enters the bubble in Edmonton in preparation for the 2021 WJC. The camp will take place in a bubble and will be closed to the public and media.

Canada will be in Group A, along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany. Group B will include the United States, Russia, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic. Canada plays the opening game of the round-robin portion against Germany on Dec. 26. 

The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.

Canada, which defeated Russia 4-3 in the 2020 championship game at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic, finished first at the event for the 18th time. 

Vancouver (Western Hockey League) coach Michael Dyck and Saskatoon (WHL) coach Mitch Love will be assistants under Tourigny, the coach of Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League. Love and Tourigny were assistants to coach Dale Hunter at the 2020 WJC.

HOCKEY CANADA WJC SELECT CAMP ROSTER

GOALIES: Brett Brochu, London, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Dylan Garand, Kamloops, WHL (New York Rangers); Taylor Gauthier, Prince George, WHL (2021 draft eligible); Triston Lennox, Saginaw, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Devon Levi, Northeastern, HE (Florida Panthers)

DEFENSEMEN: Justin Barron, Halifax, QMJHL (Colorado Avalanche); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Lukas Cormier, Charlottetown, QMJHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert, WHL (Montreal Canadiens); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Mason Millman, Saginaw OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Minnesota Wild); Owen Power, Michigan, BIG10 (2021 draft eligible); Matthew Robertson, Edmonton, WHL (New York Rangers); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (New York Rangers); Donovan Sebrango, Kitchener, OHL (Detroit Red Wings); Jordan Spence, Moncton, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings)

FORWARDS: Adam Beckman, Spokane, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan, QMJHL (Dallas Stars); Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Graeme Clarke, Ottawa, OHL (New Jersey Devils); Kirby Dach, Saskatoon, WHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Tyson Foerster, Barrie, OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Gage Goncalves, Everett, WHL (Tampa Bay Lightning); Ridly Greig, Brandon, WHL (Ottawa Senators); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Edmonton Oilers); Seth Jarvis, Portland, WHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (Washington Capitals); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (New Jersey Devils); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Val-d’Or, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (Winnipeg Jets); Samuel Poulin, Sherbrooke, QMJHL (Pittsburgh Penguins); Jack Quinn, Ottawa, OHL (Buffalo Sabres); Jamieson Rees, Sarnia, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Cole Schwindt, Mississauga, OHL (Florida Panthers); Xavier Simoneau, Drummondville, QMJHL (2021 draft eligible); Ryan Suzuki, Saginaw, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Philip Tomasino, Oshawa, OHL (Nashville Predators); Shane Wright, Kingston, OHL (2022 draft eligible); Connor Zary, Kamloops, WHL (Calgary Flames)

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Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Falcons' TNF win over the Panthers | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections – Pro Football Focus

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Thursday Night Football featured two division rivals who played just 18 days ago. The Falcons dominated time of possession most of the game, but their drives kept ending in field goals, which kept the game close. The game featured plenty of stars in the fantasy football world, but none of them had a great game — some performances were quite disappointing.

As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action — and how we should react to anything new.

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers

Winner: WR Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers

Samuel had the winner spot locked up early in the second quarter after scoring his second touchdown of the game. He ended up with three carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, along with four catches for 31 yards and another TD. Samuel’s fantasy stock was on the rise earlier in the week after the release of Seth Roberts, which helped lead to more playing time for Samuel. While this game was a step in the right direction, Christian McCaffrey will return soon and command a ton of touches. There is the possibility McCaffrey and Mike Davis seeing the field at the same time, which could cut into both Samuel’s playing time and his carries.

Loser: WR Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons

Gage was held to two catches on three targets for 25 yards. With Ridley missing two-thirds of the game, this should have been an opportunity for Gage to have a bigger role in the offense. He had seen his targets rise in recent weeks, leading to back-to-back games with over 50 yards. Instead, Ridley’s injury led to more targets for Julio Jones and Hayden Hurst. Even if Ridley misses time, it would be hard to trust Gage with how few targets he had in this game and earlier in the season when Jones was out.

Waiver Wire Target: RB Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons

Hill has spent the season as the No. 2 running back behind Todd Gurley II. Coming into Thursday night, he had put up a higher yards per carry and more than double the yards per route run. This week, Hill saw his biggest role in the offense in over a month. Despite having seven fewer carries than Gurley, Hill ended up with nine more rushing yards. He saw three targets and was the only halfback targeted in the Falcons offense. He only had two catches for nine yards, but if he continues to outplay Gurley it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hill’s playing time continue to rise.

Injury: WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Ridley left the game early in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He was off to a strong start with three catches on four targets for 42 yards before the injury. The Falcons have struggled to keep all three of their wide receivers healthy, with both Julio Jones and Russell Gage missing time in recent weeks. While Olamide Zaccheaus typically replaced Jones, and Brandon Powell replaced Gage last week, it was Christian Blake primarily replacing Ridley Thursday night. Blake caught both of his targets for 14 yards. If Ridley were to miss any time, Blake would be a good waiver wire target. He might not be someone worth starting right away, but there would be high upside in the Falcons offense.

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