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Dolphins vs Bills 2021 final score, immediate reactions for Week 8

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Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins finished their annual home-and-home series against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday with a visit to Orchard Park. The game proved to be a better one for Miami, who lost 35-0 to Buffalo in Week 2, but it was not enough to end the Dolphins’ losing streak. With today’s result, Miami has now lost their last seven games, and they have lost seven in a row to the Bills.

Miami played well early in the game, but once again, penalties, dropped passes, and offensive confusion ended any chance the Dolphins had to win. The Dolphins are now 1-7 on the season.

Final Score

Dolphins 11 – Bills 26

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First Quarter

The Dolphins won the coin toss, electing to defer to the second half. The Bills received the opening kick, returning it to their own 23. Quarterback Josh Allen looked to running back Devin Singletary on first down, picking up just a yard on the pass to the flat. Singletary then picked up four yards on the ground on second down before an incomplete pass as Miami safety Jevon Holland flushed Allen out of the pocket led to a three-and-out punt.

Okay, that was a good start from the defense. They were quick to the ball to make a tackle and Holland continues to be a force on defense. He made the tackle on the run from Singletary, then pressured Allen. He also returned the punt. He is going to develop into a special player.

Miami’s first possession was a solid drive, taking what the Bills would give them and making it work. Running back Myles Gaskin started the drive with a one-yard run, then quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had to throw the ball away as he was nearly sacked. Facing a 3rd-and-9, Tagovailoa threw a jump ball to DeVante Parker who, despite having a defender hanging all over him, came down with the 23-yard reception. Miami continued to attack the Bills on both the ground and through the air, never looking to force anything but keeping the ball moving. The drive stalled at the Buffalo 18-yard line, however, with Jason Sanders setting up for a 36-yard field goal. He completely miss-kicked the ball, however, and Miami came away with no points on the drive.

The Dolphins offense really did just take whatever the Bills were willing to give them. Tagovailoa had a couple of really pretty throws, with Parker’s 23-yard reception and a ball through three defenders to Parker for an eight-yard gain highlighting the drive. Do not know what happened on the kick from Sanders, but what is about an extra-point distance kick just came out sideways.

The kick was Sanders’ 100th field goal attempt, with him converting 84 of them. That makes him eligible for the all-time list among kickers; two weeks ago he was a top-ten kicker in terms of field-goal accuracy, but now he will come in at 21 with an 84-percent conversion rate.

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The Bills took over at their own 26-yard line after the miss, losing a yard on the first play as defensive lineman Christian Wilkins stuffed Singletary in the backfield. After Singletary picked up six yards, the Bills were called for a false start, setting up a 3rd-and-10 play. Allen was flushed from the pocket on the play, then scrambled into a wide-open space on the field, picking up 34 yards on the run. The drive did nothing else, however, as they only picked up another yard. Buffalo converted on a 57-yard field goal to score first. Bills 3-0.

The Dolphins forgot about all the times Allen has run all over them. There was just no one anywhere near the line of scrimmage – or for the first 33 yards of the run. Other than that play, however, Miami held the Bills to six yards on five plays, not including the five-yard loss on the false start. The defense has the ability to slow the Bills offense, but they have to do it for the entire game if Miami is going to be anywhere near competitive today.

Miami started the drive with a false start, setting up a 1st-and-15 from their own 20-yard line. Tagovailoa went back to his favorite target early on the day, finding Parker on a slant that picked up 14 yards. Gaskin then picked up five yards to convert the first down, with Miami able to quickly make up for the penalty. Running back Salvon Ahmed lost three yards on the first down play, ultimately leading to a 3rd-and-13 attempt, with the Bills called for an illegal hands to the face penalty, giving the Dolphins a free first down. Tagovailoa came back to Parker for a 15-yard gain on first down, only to have offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg called for a false start on the next play. After an incomplete pass and a sack of Tagovailoa, the first quarter came to an end.

Miami has gotten so good at the good play-false start combination this year.


Second quarter

Tagovailoa was forced to throw the ball away on the 3rd-and-20 screen pass attempt after the break and the Dolphins punted.

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The 3rd-and-long screen pass. Sigh.

The Bills started the drive with an 11-yard pass from Allen to Gabriel Davis, followed by an eight-yard screen pass from Allen to Diggs. After that, however, the drive stalled, and Buffalo was again forced to punt, with former Dolphins punter Matt Haack shanking the kick only 19 yards and giving Miami good field position.

The Miami defense is playing well right now. Nothing spectacular, but solid play and keeping the Bills offense from finding a rhythm

Starting at their own 35-yard line, Miami picked up two yards from Gaskin, then two yards from Ahmed. Facing a 3rd-and-6, Tagovailoa threw a pass out to the flat for Gaskin, who broke a tackle and picked up 22 yards. Ahmed then picked up eight yards on two carries before a two-yard loss from Gaskin led to another field goal attempt from Sanders. This time he connected on the 51-yard try. Tied 3-3.

The run-pass option on third down ran Gaskin straight into the blitz from the Bills. Just not a great play in that situation. But, Miami is now tied up and has scored against the Bills for the first time this year.

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Buffalo picked up 20 yards on first down as Allen threw complete to a sliding Cole Beasley down the seam. After that, however, the Dolphins defense stepped up, with Wilkins pulling down Diggs on a screen pass that picked up three yards, then cornerback Byron Jones broke up a deep shot to Emmanuel Sanders, then the pass rush nearly got to Allen who threw a duck to no one. Buffalo punted.

That was a gorgeous pass breakup from Jones, who lept and got a hand on the ball over his head. If he had not gotten there, that could have been a big play for Sanders down the sideline.

Miami started deep in their own territory as Holland was lost four yards to the Dolphins’ seven-yard line on the punt return. Ahmed was able to break through for a 12-yard gain on second down, giving the Dolphins a little breathing room. Tagovailoa then found Parker for an eight-yard gain before Gaskin picked up three yards on a 2nd-and-2 play. Tagovailoa threw to tight end Mike Gesicki for three yards on the next play then Ahmed picked up a yard. On 3rd-and-6, Tagovailoa connected with running back Patrick Laird for an 11-yard gain, appearing to give Miami a first down, but an illegal shift penalty negated the gain an set up Miami with a 3rd-and-11. After an incomplete pass, Miami punted.

The penalties are absolutely killer for this team. After being so disciplined last year when it came to penalties, the Dolphins are just giving away too many yards in penalties this year. It seems like every time the team does something good, they have a penalty either negate it or on the next play. It kills so many offensive possessions or gives the opponent a free set of plays.

Buffalo began the drive with a 15-yard pass from Allen to Zack Moss, taking the clock to the two-minute warning. Allen came back after the break with a seven-yard pass to Davis, who got out of bounds to stop the clock. Allen then went back to Moss for another eight yards and a clock stoppage as he ran out of bounds. With the ball at the 50-yard line, Allen threw two incomplete passes followed by a six-yard pass to tight end Timmy Sweeney. On 4th-and-4, Allen appeared to think he had drawn the Dolphins offsides, but no flag was thrown and linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel crashed through the line, appearing to get the sack but the call was changed to an intentional grounding penalty, giving Miami the ball at the Buffalo 41-yard line.

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Good defense continues for Miami. The offsides probably should have been called, but the intentional grounding would still have given the Dolphins the ball.

Miami started with the ball at the Buffalo 41 and with 46 seconds to play in the half. A Tagovailoa pass to tight end Adam Shaheen picked up eight yards, with the Dolphins using their first time out. A Gaskin run for one yard turned into a bigger play as the Bills were called for a horse collar tackle, giving the Dolphins 15 free yards and a first down. Tagovailoa then found Gesicki in the middle of the field for a five-yard gain, followed by a timeout. After an incomplete pass, Miami faced 3rd-and-5 from the Buffalo 12-yard line, with the snap hitting Gesicki as he went in motion, leading to a recovery from the Bills and Miami losing a golden opportunity to take the lead at the half.

How does that happen? Twice. Gesicki was nearly hit with the snap on the illegal shift play earlier in the game, then had the same thing happen on this play, but the ball actually did hit him. Just horrible execution by the Dolphins.

Allen knelt to kill the clock.


Third quarter

Miami started the half with the ball at their own 21-yard line after Jaylen Waddle’s return. Myles Gaskin picked up two yards to start the drive, then Tagovailoa found Parker for a yard; a flag was thrown on the play for an illegal shift as Gesicki was again trying to get receivers into the right formation, but the penalty was declined. Tagovailoa scrambled for six yards on 3rd-and-7, leading to a three-and-out for Miami.

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Whatever is happening with these illegal shifts and Gesicki being hit by the snap have got to be fixed. I have never seen this just complete breakdown. Once in a game can be understood, but this is at least the third time it has happened.

The Bills began with the ball a their own 21-yard line after the punt, then continued to mirror Miami’s first possession of the second half. Singletary was stuffed for a two-yard loss, followed by two incomplete passes, including one in which Emmanuel Ogbah batted the ball down at the line of scrimmage. The Bills punted on the three-and-out drive.

Miami’s defense is in this game. Again, it is nothing spectacular, but it is solid play from everyone and it is disrupting the Bills. Maybe they finally realized the 2021 season has begun?

The Dolphins’ drive started with a one-yard loss on a hot-read pass into the flat for Gaskin, only to have it blown up as soon as he caught the ball. Two more incomplete passes led to a second straight three-and-out for the Dolphins to start the half after having none in the first 30 minutes.

The Bills dialed up the pass rush on that possession and Tagovailoa never had time to even try to find a receiver.

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Buffalo muffed the punt, with the ball rolling back into the endzone but the referees called it a touchback. Miami was called for an illegal use of hands on the first play, moving the Bills from the 20- to the 25-yard line. On the next play, an offensive holding penalty backed up Buffalo into a 1st-and-20 from the 15-yard line. A six-yard run from Moss was followed by a batted ball at the line of scrimmage by Wilkins to set up 3rd-and-14. Allen had time to work through his progressions and eventually find Beasley, who picked up 15 yards. Allen again had all kinds of time to find Moss for four yards on the next play, with Beasley picking up 10 yards on the next play to move the ball to the 50-yard line. Allen went right back to Beasley on the next play, picking up six yards. Allen again went quick to Beasley on the pass, adding another three yards and bringing up 3rd-and-1. Allen looked for the quick throw, pulled it down, somehow slipped through a sack from Elandon Roberts, then ran for a five-yard gain. Moss picked up seven yards on the resulting first down. Singletary then picked up 13 yards to move into the redzone and set up 1st-and-10 at the Miami 16. A Singletary run for two yards was followed by a screen pass to Davis, a pass that was nearly batted down at the line but turned into a three-yard gain. Allen threw an incomplete pass into the endzone on 3rd-and-5, but Andrew Van Ginkel was called for pass interference, giving the Bills a 1st-and-Goal at the eight-yard line. The Dolphins blitzed and were able to get the pressure on Allen, with Jaelan Phillips called for a facemask on the play, but Allen was able to find a wide-open Davis in the endzone for the score. Bills 10-3.

The Bills went to short, quick passes on the drive and Miami could not stop them. The penalties obviously cost the team again, but the pass interference likely prevented a touchdown on that play, so it may have been the right move for Van Ginkel to basically tackle Sweeney. Miami’s defense needs to get back to what they were doing earlier and not let this drive change their execution for the first 41 minutes of the game.

The Dolphins started their possession at their own 17-yard line after the facemask penalty led to a short kick from the Bills. Ahmed ran up the middle for a yard on first down, then caught an outlet pass for a six-yard gain. On 3rd-and-2, Tagovailoa threw a pass toward Gaskin, but the running back turned the wrong way and could not bring in the pass. Miami punted after another three-and-out.

A long drive by the Bills followed by another three-and-out from the Dolphins. The defense is going to be gassed.

Buffalo’s offense came out again looking for short passes. After an illegal hands to the face penalty on Miami on the first play, Allen threw incomplete, then to Beasley who turned upfield for a 17-yard catch and run. Singletary picked up six yards on a run before a screen pass to Diggs turned into an 11-yard gain and the end of the quarter.

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Miami’s defense is struggling with the quick passing attack. They have to find a way to disrupt this momentum from the Bills.


Fourth Quarter

The final period started with a two-yard scramble from Allen, then a false start penalty was called on the Bills. An incomplete pass on a screen pass set up 3rd-and-13. The Dolphins blitzed to try to create pressure, but Allen found Beasley on a crossing route to pick up the first down. The Bills tried to break out a trick play as Allen threw a backward pass to Beasley who target Davis in the endzone, but Xavien Howard was able to break up the pass. Allen then came back with a slant pass to Diggs for the touchdown. Bills 17-3.

The Dolphins stuck with the Bills for the entire first half, but the offense did nothing in the third quarter and now Buffalo has started to put this game away. The Dolphins defense is looking tired. Miami needs a good drive and a touchdown here if they are going to climb back into this contest.

Miami’s offense picked up their first first down of the second half on the second play of the drive, with Parker able to turn up field on a short pass to gain 12 yards. After an incomplete pass and a sack that was negated by an offsides penalty, Gaskin ran for no gain to set up a 3rd-and-5. Tagovailoa was able to find Waddle for 10 yards, keeping the drive alive. Tagovailoa then found Parker for four yards before two incomplete passes set up a 4th-and-6 play. The pressure nearly got to Tagovailoa on the play, but the quarterback stepped up in the pocket and found Gesicki for 40 yards. On 1st-and-Goal from the four, Tagovailoa scrambled for a three-yard gain. On second down, Tagovailoa scored on the sneak, then found Gesicki in the endzone for the two point conversion. Bills 17-11.

That was a NEEDED drive, even if just for the defense to get some air. The score keeps the Dolphins in the game, and the two point conversion means a touchdown wins the game rather than tying it. No issue with that, even if they had not converted as they would still need a touchdown, but with the two point conversion on that score. The Dolphins need to get back to Parker getting the ball.

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Buffalo’s drive started at their own 20, with Allen finding Sweeney for 13 yards. A one-yard gain on a pass from Allen to Moss was followed by an 11 yard gain on a pass to Sweeney. Diggs lost a yard on a screen pass, then Allen threw incomplete on a deep try to Sanders. Allen was then able to find Beasley over the middle for 20 yards to convert on a 3rd-and-11 attempt. Allen then tried to run an option, with the pitch falling to no one and becoming a fumble out of bounds for a four-yard loss. An illegal contact penalty on an incomplete pass then gave the Bills another first down, moving the ball to the Miami 35-yard line. Allen then ran for a 12-yard gain down the right sideline. Moss ran for three yards, then picked up eight yards on a pass from Allen. Buffalo, on 1st-and-10 from the Miami 12, lost a yard. The Bills were then backed up 15 yards on an illegal low block, bringing up 2nd-and-26 from the Miami 28-yard line. Beasley caught a short pass for four yards to set up 3rd-and-22. Moss picked up three yards on a screen pass, allowing the Bills to run the clock all the way down before calling a timeout. The Bills then extended the lead to nine with a 39-yard field goal. Bills 20-11.

The Dolphins used all of their timeouts on the Bills drive, so they are going to need a quick score and then an onside kick to come away with a win.

On first down, Tagovailoa was able to find Laird for a 10-yard catch-and-run, then followed that with an incomplete pass as Parker dropped the ball in his hands and an offensive holding penalty. Tagovailoa fumbled on the next play, with Miami able to recover as the ball rolled around. On 3rd-and-26, Tagovailoa looked deep for Parker, but Jordan Poyer was able to jump the route and pick off the pass.

Well, that would be the game. Tagovailoa was trying to make something happen, but it is once again too little too late for the Dolphins offense. This seems to be the script for this year, start well, give up points in the middle of the game, then try to make a comeback late. They just can never complete the come back.

The Bills started with the ball at the Miami 11-yard line, with Moss picking up four yards, then running for no gain. Allen then ran for the score. They did not score on a two-point conversion attempt. Bills 26-11.

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After the kickoff, Tagovailoa threw a screen to Gaskin, but it lost two yards. Gaskin then rushed for seven yards to kill the clock and end the game.



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2022 Fantasy football draft prep: Rankings, NFL rookies, strategy, top 150 players by dialed-in experts

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In the span of a month, Rashaad Penny went from one of the Fantasy football busts to a savior last year with the Seahawks. After gaining a total of 78 rushing yards through Week 13, he averaged 134.2 over his final five games and led his position in Fantasy points over that stretch. Now, owners are conflicted as to which Penny will show up this year and where to take him in their 2022 Fantasy football rankings. With Chris Carson (neck) retired, Seattle drafted Kenneth Walker III in the second round and traded away Russell Wilson. Whether you’re hunting for a Fantasy football top 150 you can trust or position-specific rankings that can help you identify potential 2022 Fantasy football sleepers, breakouts and busts, be sure to see what the team at SportsLine has to say.

Prepared by SportsLine Fantasy experts Jacob Gibbs and R.J. White, this is a must-have guide for any Fantasy player preparing for snake, auction or best ball drafts. Gibbs is a data-driven prodigy who called Patrick Mahomes‘ monster 2018 season. He uses a data-driven approach that has helped him consistently provide accurate rankings at every position. He has proven to be one of the nation’s most accurate Fantasy rankers in recent years, posting the eighth-most accurate results over the past three seasons, according to Fantasy Pros.

White is SportsLine’s No. 1 NFL expert since 2017 who got his start in the Fantasy industry, with his work appearing at AOL Fanhouse, Fantasy Café and other sites prior to joining CBS Sports. This duo brings decades of Fantasy experience and can give you a huge edge in your league.

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The 2022 guide not only ranks the top 150 players in standard and PPR leagues, it reveals must-see sleepers, breakouts and busts, breaks down the top rookie QBs, RBs and WRs, tells you which coaching moves will translate to massive Fantasy success and gives you updated mock drafts that can guide your selections. The Fantasy Football Draft Bible also offers detailed strategy tips for whichever league you play in: snake draft, auction or best ball. Head to SportsLine now to see the 2022 Fantasy football draft bible.

Top 2022 Fantasy football picks

The Fantasy football draft bible includes 2022 Fantasy football breakouts you’ll need to know before you go on the clock including:

Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: A fifth-round pick, Allgeier had a highly productive career at BYU, where he ranked third in rushing yards (2,731) and second in rushing TDs (36) among all NCAA players over the last two seasons. He joins a Falcons team that ranked 31st in rushing yards last year but found surprising individual success utilizing Cordarelle Patterson in the backfield. However, Patterson is expected to spend more time at receiver than running back in 2022, which paves the way for Allgeier to be an early-down grinder for a retooled Falcons offense.

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans: After being a part of a committee at Florida, Pierce was a fourth-round selection and will be in another committee with the Texans. He never had more than 15 carries in a game throughout his college career, but his production was nearly unparalleled in terms of raw stats and advanced metrics. Pierce ranked 24th in carries among SEC RBs, but was third in both rushing TDs (13) and total TDs (16). His ability to shed would-be tacklers should also carve him a sizable role in a Texans offense that ranked last in the league in rushing yards in 2021. Get the full Fantasy football draft guide over at SportsLine.

How to find proven 2022 Fantasy football rankings

SportsLine’s Fantasy football 2022 draft guide has also identified a massive bust you need to steer completely clear of. This player is going off the board in the fourth or fifth round in many leagues, but could completely sink your playoff hopes. You can only see who it is here.

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So what is the value of every single player for your 2022 Fantasy football rankings? And which huge bust can sink your season? Visit SportsLine now to see the complete 2022 Fantasy football draft bible, all from a team of proven Fantasy analysts who can give you a huge edge in your league



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2022 MLB Field of Dreams Game: TV channel, time, live stream, four things to know for Cubs-Reds in Iowa

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On Thursday, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds will meet in Dyersville, Iowa, for the second edition of Major League Baseball’s Field of Dreams Game. The game is a living tribute to the iconic 1989 film “Field of Dreams” that starred Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Amy Madigan, and the late Ray Liotta that was in part an exploration of baseball nostalgia. 

While opinions vary on how effective the movie is, there’s no disputing that it’s one of the most discussed and recognizable baseball films ever made (it was also an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture). The film hinges on the decision made by Costner’s farmer character to carve a baseball diamond of his corn field — at great personal risk and expense — all because a mysterious whispering voice told him to: 

That field will be visited by the ghosts of long-ago baseball players and by a lost presence in Costner’s character’s life. But enough spoilers. 

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The dimensions of the movie field itself — now a prominent tourist destination in Iowa — aren’t such that a major-league game can be played on it, but a nearby field constructed for last year’s inaugural FoD Game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox certainly captured the essence of things. People, there was lots of corn. Construction, however, will apparently prevent MLB from hosting a game in Iowa next year.

Now let’s set the scene for the second edition of the Field of Dreams Game by running down the essential things to know. 

How to watch the Field of Dreams Game

Where: Dyersville, Iowa | When: 7:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 11
TV channel: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Odds: Cubs -105; Reds -115; O/U: 9 (via Caesars Sportsbook)

Featured Game | Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs

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Now for a few things to know about the 2022 edition. 

1. The Reds and Cubs will be wearing throwback uniforms

Given that the movie Field of Dreams draws heavily from the Deadball Era of more than a century ago, the two competing squads will be outfitted appropriately. It says here they’ll look pretty darn good. First up, the Cubs: 

And: 

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This is a bit of a mashup that works very well. The jersey and pants are from the Cubs’ pennant-winning campaign of 1929, and the hat is from the 1914 season. 

Now for the Reds: 

That ensemble was featured prominently during the 1914-20 period, and you may consider the Reds’ batting helmet to be the early favorite for “best thing going” when it comes to the uniforms of the 2022 FoD game. 

MLB has leaned into having mic’d-up conversations with players in the dugout and even on the field while the game is ongoing, and not surprisingly that’s going to be the case on Thursday night. The lucky/afflicted players for this game will be Reds first baseman Joey Votto and Cubs outfielder Ian Happ. They’ll be rocking the two-way mic at some point during the game. Given Votto’s engaging presence and sense of humor, he could be an ideal fit for this sort of thing. 

3. The ballpark will be the star

Much like last year, the specially constructed FoD ballpark will be the story of the night. As noted above, the field from the movie isn’t suitable for MLB competition, but the one that’s being used captures the same essence thanks to grace notes like the manual scoreboard and the 159 acres of surrounding 10-foot corn stalks. Adding to the ambience is the fine mesh seven-foot high green chain link fence that makes it look like, yes, they’re playing right in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. 

Also, each team will have a throwback logo carved into the corn just beyond the right-field wall. Regard: 

4. It’ll be hard to top last year’s edition

The first FoD game, unlike this year’s model, involved contenders and eventual playoff teams. As well, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson provided one of the most memorable closing acts of the season against the Yankees:

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As well, MLB notes that last year’s game “delivered nearly six million viewers and marked the most-watched single regular season baseball game on any network since 1998.”

Given that the Reds and Cubs are both near the bottom of the National League Central standings and at most are competing for draft position in 2023, the stakes are obviously much lower. That said, the venue and the visuals are the real stars of the FoD game, and those will be in peak form once again. 



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Equipped with revamped slider, Mitch White brings versatility to Blue Jays

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MINNEAPOLIS — The moment Mitch White knew he needed to do something about his slider was right about here:


That was last May, when White — making only his sixth big-league appearance after winding a half-decade path up the Los Angeles Dodgers system — was trying to earn a save in the second game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field.

White’s not a closer and has zero reservations about that fact. But it was extras (remember, doubleheaders were seven-inning games last season) and the bullpen was in a real bad way. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was out of options. So, with a two-run lead and a baserunner starting the inning at second, out to the mound White went.

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It was going well until it wasn’t. White got a quick out on a groundball before winning a long battle with Tony Wolters, earning a strikeout with an inside curveball. But after falling behind Javy Baez, 1-0, White tried to dot his slider on the outside edge but missed, leaving it up and over for the Cubs second baseman, whose eyes lit up. Tie game.

“He got me pretty good,” White remembers. “And after that I was like, ‘my slider sucks. I need to figure this out.’”

At the time, White was throwing what’s called a bullet slider. Think of the one Michael Fulmer’s flummoxed hitters with this season. Tight, vertical, and firm, the pitch is thrown anywhere from the high-80’s to low-90’s, sacrificing movement for velocity. As a pitcher, you’re thinking not so much about manipulating the pitch, but moreso about throwing the hell out of it. As hard as you can. It worked for White over a lot of years at a lot of levels. But the hitters at the highest one are pretty good.

So, White went back to the lab with Dodgers assistant pitching coach Connor McGuiness to revisit a grip change they’d discussed in spring training. The inspiration came from Blake Treinen, the all-star Dodgers reliever who, in 2021, halted an odd, two-year slide in his results when he started throwing his slider with a spike grip like one would a curveball. The adjustment juiced the pitch’s horizontal movement, helped Treinen rediscover his elite form, and was so effective that the Dodgers started implementing it developmentally throughout their system.

White was one of the guys they thought it could work for. But it wasn’t until Baez’s bomb that he finally took the plunge and started throwing it. Suddenly, White’s slider was sweeping five inches further across the zone. He was getting more swings with it and missing more barrels. He finished 2021 with a 35.7 per cent whiff rate on the pitch, allowing a strong .204 wOBA against it (and a .170 xwOBA that suggests White deserved even better).

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That’s just one of the things that the Toronto Blue Jays have liked about White for some time, and one of the reasons why they sought to acquire him at last week’s trade deadline when the Dodgers, motivated to move White in his final option year ahead of an impending roster crunch next spring, made him available.

Another would be the 94-mph fastball with above-average spin that plays up off the rest of his repertoire and has gotten him outs consistently since his MLB debut. And then there’s the curveball, changeup, and two-seamer, rounding out a deep, still-developing repertoire that gives Toronto’s pitching department plenty to work with.

“We’re excited to have him. We’ve had discussions about him in the past — he’s someone that’s been on our radar for a while,” says Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker. “He has a very comfortable, easy delivery. The ball jumps out of his hand. I like the way he spins the ball a couple different ways. He spins it very well. And he’s still developing. The changeup’s effective, but it’s something I think we can continue to develop here. I think that’s a pitch that could be better for him in the future.

“He’s someone that we’ll continue to get to know. But just from seeing him on video, talking with him, watching him throw a side — he seems to have a good feel for what he’s doing. And that’s nice. To be successful at this level, you’ve got to know who you are and what makes you good.”

Part of that is White’s comfort in a variety of roles, something the Dodgers used to their advantage over the last two seasons. Los Angeles utilized him for one-inning relief, had him pitch bulk outings behind openers, and used him as a rotation fill-in for two-and-a-half months this season. And you can expect White to do something similar in Toronto, both pitching out of the club’s bullpen and covering a spot in its rotation when needed, assuming the role Ross Stripling held with the club out of spring training.

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And, look, you’re going to hear White compared to Stripling a lot. It’s almost too easy. A couple right-handed, control-and-command, kitchen-sink-throwing swingmen acquired at the trade deadline from the Los Angeles Dodgers. A pair of guys who could easily hold down back-end starting jobs on plenty of teams but, because the Dodgers are the Dodgers, often found themselves on the outside of a stacked rotation looking in. White assumed Stripling’s role in Toronto’s rotation, for crying out loud, when the incumbent ended up on the injured list this week. And he might just inherit it long-term if Stripling departs in free agency this winter.

But as far as comparisons go, Stripling’s not an undesirable one. We’ve all seen how valuable his versatility’s been to the Blue Jays this season and last. It’s not so easy oscillating between starting and relief throughout a major-league season, repeatedly reverting routines and amplifying demands on body and mind. It’s like asking a track athlete to compete in the 100m sprint one week and the 1,500m run the next, while excelling at both.

For his part, White has three different conditioning and arm care routines — one for when he’s pitching out of the bullpen, one for when he’s starting, and another for when he’s transitioning between the two. And he takes different approaches to attacking hitters depending on his role, as well.

“It’s about managing that arm health and taking care of everything — making sure you’re physically ready to go. And then beyond that, there’s the mental challenge of flipping a lineup over a couple times, understanding that you can’t always go with your plan A. You’ve got to mix it up,” White says. “And just through the experience of throwing more, you get comfortable feeling those things out. Feeling hitters a little more. Versus in the pen, where it’s like, ‘All right, I’m going to come at them with my best stuff. I don’t really need to get too cute. Just attack.’”

That’s why White’s continual work on his repertoire has been so key. He has to be two pitchers at once. And while he’s found what works as a reliever, leaning on a fastball that plays up in shorter stints and that sweeping slider, he’s still a work in progress at a starter. And the Blue Jays feel there’s more upside he can tap into as he continues making adjustments.

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While White’s fastball and slider are an effective combination against right-handers, he offers lefties a completely different look, utilizing curveballs and changeups to help neutralize the platoon advantage. The Blue Jays see some opportunities for White to improve those two pitches, his changeup in particular. And they believe his slider can be deployed against left-handed hitting, as well, provided he’s able to locate it in advantageous areas of the strike zone.

White’s obviously open to ideas. He’s already decided to experiment with some glove-side two-seamers — a new pitch White began implementing earlier this season — in his next bullpen after watching Alek Manoah and Jose Berrios using it to great effect against right-handed hitters. Stripling added a sinker himself this year and has used it effectively as a soft-contact generating weapon against right-handers. Don’t be surprised to see White start doing the same.

Advancing White’s approach will be an ongoing process, of course. The Blue Jays haven’t thrown too much at him yet, encouraging the 27-year-old to continue doing what he was doing to produce the 3.47 ERA he held over 10 starts with the Dodgers this season. But White’s open-minded and unafraid of trying new things, like with the slider he overhauled thanks to Treinen’s spike grip. And with the benefit of a full camp in Dunedin, Fla. next spring, a little tweak here, a little adjustment there, the evolution of Mitch While will continue.

“It’s interesting — a lot of pitchers are very different in the way that they approach the game. And you can learn something from everyone,” White says. “I learned a lot from Clayton [Kershaw.] He’s old school. He doesn’t love all the numbers and the Edgertronic and the Rapsodo and the technical side. So, I’d talk to him about approach and reading hitters and what his game plan is.

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“Then there’s a Tyler Anderson or a Tony Gonsolin — they’re more involved in pitch design, figuring out how to make my slider move a little bit more in this direction, that kind of stuff. Everyone’s a little different. And you can pick up little pieces from everyone.”

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