Tuesday, May 3, 2016

One to Fourteen

Game 25, May 1, Slugger Field, Louisville, Kentucky
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 0
Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds): 3
Wrap, Box, Courier-Journal

Game 26, May 2, Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 9
Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates): 2
Season: 12-14; Trip: 2-1
Wrap, Box

Last night was a big change from being one-hit and shut out on Sunday to a 14-hit blowout on Monday. Daniel Robertson led the charge with walk, 2 singles, a double, and a triple (4 RBI). And several more had a multi-hit game: Taylor Motter, Richie Shaffer, and Jake Goebbert.  The only Bull who did not get a hit was returning catcher Luke Maile, who had his first game behind the plate since coming off the disabled list over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Adam Wilk, who had not previously gotten much in the way of run support, got his first win on the year in a 7 inning, 0 earned run outing.

Outside the game —
  • Andrew Bellatti went on the disabled list when Luke Maile came off. Mikie Mahtook remains on the list.
  • The Gwinnett Braves had their roster shredded with three players being called up (including former Bull Reid Brignac) and two or so Atlanta Braves being optioned down. Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Win!

Game 24, April 30, Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, Kentucky
Durham Bulls: 3
Louisville Bats: 1
Season: 11-13; Trip: 1-0
Wrap, Box, Louisville Courier-Journal

Both the wrap and the Courier-Journal stories laud the performance of Durham Bulls outfielder Dayron Verona. Wish that I’d seen the plays. Worth a read.

Then there was Taylor Motter’s 4th home run (he playing third base for just the third time this season). And Kyle Roller’s 3rd homer. (Note that as early as we are in this season, five different players have begun a game at third base for the Bulls—basically every infielder on the roster.)

Jamie Schultz had a great start. His game score of 72 was the best of any Durham starting pitcher since his own 71 back on April 24th. He only let up 2 hits and threw 6 K’s over 6 innings.

Outside the game —
  • Guess we aren’t the only ones upset about home field losses. Check out the Courier-Journal link. Seems that the Bats aren’t doing good at home either.
Chart

I like the Game Score stat as a way of looking at starting pitchers and, in context, it gives some indication of the importance of starting pitching. Here are the scores of the last 15 games. The circled scores are the anomalies. They mark scores that were above average, yet the Bulls lost (4 of them) or below average, yet the Bulls won.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

What If?

Game 23, April 29, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Louisville Bats: 4
Durham Bulls: 2
Season: 10-13; Home Stand: 1-5
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

For the stats geeks, one play made all the difference. For the fans, not so much. As Blake Snell started the 6th he was moving into unknown territory, having not gone more than 5 innings this year. He gave up a single. The next play was a very hard grounder just to the left of second base. Bulls shortstop Daniel Robertson knocked it down, but could not start the double play. Result: runners on first and second, no outs. In our section of the stands, the ruling was 3-1 to call the play an error on the shortstop. The official scorer called it a hit. Snell then got an out, but next gave up a home run and the Bats were ahead 3-2. He walked the next two batters and was pulled from the game. His replacement, new guy Danny Farquhar, let one of the baserunners in. So all four runs were charged against Snell and his ERA went up quite a bit. If it had been an E6, some of those 4 runs would have been unearned.

On the other hand, the Bulls had their first error-free game in a long while. They committed 11 in the previous six games.

This was as dismal a home stand as I can remember. Unless something got on track on the bus ride to Louisville, it’s not going to get much better. The Bulls play five games games against the very same teams they just played in Durham — two against Louisville and three against Indianapolis.

Outside the game —
  • Joey Rickard, who was a great-looking young Durham Bull at the end of last season, went to the Baltimore Orioles in a Rule 5 draft action. He beat the Rays the other day.
Chart: ERAs and FIPs

The ERAs and FIPs(Fielding Independent Percentages) of the Durham Bulls pitching crew, sorted by innings pitched. the usual early season, small sample warnings apply.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Again, and Again, and Again

Game 21, April 27, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Bats: 6
Bulls: 2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Relief crew lets another get away.

Transactions —
  • Kyle McPherson to extended spring training. Not sure what that means.
  • Justin Marks, left-handed relief pitcher assigned from the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Stats.

Game 22, April 28
Bats: 8
Bulls: 3
Season: 10-12; Home Stand: 1-4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

How much more could go wrong? Rain delays game forever; pitcher Matt Andriese gets called for two balks; manager gets tossed; new guy doesn’t pitch very well, but isn’t helped by the three unearned runs; and the “closer” lets an inherited runner in and gives up a home run. The back-to-back home runs by Taylor Motter and Richie Shaffer in the 4th were fun, though.

The Bulls new pitcher, and sole left-handed reliever, Justin Marks, made his first appearance.

Pitching Chart

The Bulls are still just 22 games (193 innings) into the season. Nevertheless, the ERA trends are disturbing. Added to that are the ugly defensive numbers: 15 unearned runs and worst-in-the-league 23 errors.

click for larger image


Standings

Bulls slide below .500. Gwinnett moves back up into first place.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Louisville Bats

The Louisville Bats come to town today. They are the Cincinnati Reds Triple-A team. Even though they are currently 3rd in the IL West, they lead the Bulls in every category, especially hitting. Note also that the Bulls have slipped to last place in the International League in batting average and their pitching is now in 12th. These are going to be challenging games.


April 27, 2016
W-L
RS
RA
Diff
BA
Rk
OPS
Rk
ERA
Rk
Louisville Bats (Reds)
9-8
70
69
1
.274
2
.739
2
3.43
8
Durham Bulls (Rays)
10-10
71
87
-16
.229
14
.654
12
3.91
12
RS=Runs Scored; RA=Runs Allowed; Rk: IL Ranking; Source:http://bit.ly/1NvBdKI

Turn the Page

Game 20, April 26, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Indianapolis Indians: 9
Durham Bulls: 0
Season: 10-10; Home Stand: 1-2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

“Just turn the page and move on,” said Kyle McPherson, as quoted in the Herald-Sun. That’s good advice from someone who gave up 7 runs on 6 hits (4 homers and a BB) in 1/3 of an inning.

But up to that point the hitters had not been doing all that well, either. In fact, this was the worst hitting performance of the year.

Too bad, because Mayo Acosta’s brilliant defense was keeping the Bulls in the game until the 9th. He was credited with 4 “caught stealings” and the Bulls were only two runs behind. Then came the 7 run shelling of McPherson that was ended by first baseman Cameron Seitzer taking the mound for the last two outs.

Outside the game —
  • Pretty nifty video starring in Mikie Mahtook.
  • Commentary on the value of some of the Bulls key players — “expendable

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What a Difference a Day Makes

Game 19, April 25, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Indianapolis Indians: 12
Durham Bulls: 1
Season: 10-9; Home Stand: 1-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

On Sunday we saw the best Bulls run differential of the year, +6. On Monday we saw the worst, -11.

Austin Pruitt, who, until last night, had a stellar start to his season, in just 3.2 innings saw his ERA go from 1.89 to 3.57. His FIP grew from 2.40 to 3.60; his WHIP from a superb 0.68 to a still pretty good 1.10. What hurt the most was what happened after a brilliant catch and throw home by Dayron Verona in the 2nd inning, that made up for the two singles that opened the inning. Pruitt then walked the next three batters, pushing in a run. A Taylor Motter home run kept the Bulls in the game, but 3 Indian runs in the 3rd and 4 more in the 4th could not be overcome.

The Bulls' new pitcher came in for the 9th, right-handed (of course) Danny Farqhar. Not an auspicious beginning as he gave up 2 more runs. Farquar is a 29 year old who opened the season with the Rays after several years with the Mariners. This year he’s only had 5.1 innings in 6 appearances. He’s does have 185 innings of major league time so its a puzzle that he has not made more appearances with the Rays.  However, the Rays sent him down essentially in exchange for Jhan Marinez. With his time in service it’s surprising that he had options left. Stats.

Cole Figueroa was one of my all-time favorite Bulls and it was mostly good to see him again. I’d rather he’d been able to stick with the Yankees or the Pirates, and I’d rather he did not get his first hits this year against the Bulls — a single, a double, and a triple with 3 RBIs. Maybe he’ll go back up to the Pirates before we play against him again.

Cupholders!

Now for something much more important than my usual geek stuff. You may never have noticed that the front row of the Terrace View seats don’t have cupholders — they don’t. That's a circumstance that has led to more than one spilled cup of beer over the years. Mike Birling, the justly famous general manager of the Durham Bulls, promised that cupholders for those seats would be part of the multi-million dollar renovation a a couple of years back, but they weren’t. In our annual conversations on the topic since then he has assured me (and others) that he’d take care of it. Several years on, after a visit to a local auto parts store, we’ve fixed the issue ourselves. Voila! Cupholders!