Monday, May 23, 2022

Week 7: Mo' Betta

click for a larger image

The Durham Bulls had another winning series down in Jacksonville, although they did not move up out of 5th place. Nevertheless, their overall play is much better and they took 4 out of 6 games from a good team in that team's home park.

Another nice trend is getting more innings out of the starting pitchers and improvement in their ERAs. 



The Charlotte Knights are coming to town and they are not having a good year, so far. The White Sox franchise is in 8th place and they have some obvious pitching problems.


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Week 6: More Light

 

The Durham Bulls moved up into 5th place in the International League East. They won their last four games here at home, the first at-home winning series of the year. Rochester (the Nationals franchise), however, is on a terrific run and is well ahead of everyone in the league, including the Bulls next opponent, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Stats

Not much change from last week. The most significant uptick was in team OPS which went from .722 to .742, from 14th to 9th in the overall International League. 

A trend that started the prior week, but continued this last week, was getting more innings out of starting pitchers. 

A trend that has not improved was roster turmoil. In the last week (since May 10th) the Bulls have seen 15 roster changes. 

Overall, it was fun watching the Bulls this week, the most fun we've had this year. Here's hoping they keep it up.


Monday, May 9, 2022

Week 5: A Glimmer of Light?

 


The Durham Bulls went 4-2 while on the road in Buffalo against the Bisons, their first winning series of this season. They are coming home in a 7th place tie with Charlotte in the International League East. 

On the week, modest improvements across the board. The team OPS was up a tiny fraction to .722 from .700. The team ERA improved by -.34, down to 4.86.

I don't know if this is a trend, but two of the Bulls' starting pitchers went 5 innings and one pitcher went 4⅔. The other three went just 2 innings each. I think it's the first time this season that any starting pitchers have gone for 5 innings. Will have to track that for a while.

The Bulls are back in town for a 6-game stand against the Gwinnett Strippers. They are, for some odd reason, in the International League West and in 5th place (tied with the Memphis Redbirds who beat up the Bulls the week before last).

Monday, May 2, 2022

Week 4: Not Getting Better, In Fact ...

 

The Durham Bulls only won one game in this last 6-game homestand. That was last Thursday. Ryan Boldt hit three home runs in that game. 

The Bulls are dead last in their division and are tied with the Louisville Bats for the worst record in the International League. This year is the ugliest start since I've been writing about the Bulls, and possibly the worst start in Durham Bulls history. I don't know how to find the numbers for season starts, but the Bulls have only finished below .500 in 4 seasons in their history. At their worst, they never finished at their current .333.

Why? Hard to say just yet. We can point out that they don't seem to have any legitimate starting pitchers and they only have a couple of position players on the Rays' 40-man.

They are off the Buffalo to play the Bisons, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Will a change of scenery help? We can only hope.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Week 3: 50-50

 

The Durham Bulls went 3-3 over in Norfolk last week. They ended the week at 7-11 and tied for 8th place in the 10-team International League East Division. That's a tick upwards from last week.

Key stat changes are dismal but slightly better.

Batting: OPS - .720, 12th in 20 team IL, + .046 from last week.

Pitching: ERA - 5.16, 14th in IL, -0.27 from last week

Pitching: WHIP - 1.534, 16th in IL, -.034 from last week

Pitching: OBA (Opponents Batting Average) - .262, 18th, -.007 from last week

This week begins with an oddity, an 11:00 am day game — Education Day. Busloads of school kids at the park. If you haven't been, try it. Sort of fun listening/watching young folks. 

The Bulls are playing the Memphis Redbirds, the St Louis Cardinals Triple-A team,  They are 9-9 on the year. 

Lastly, Tyler Zambro, the Bulls pitcher who took a line drive to his head last year, is back with the team. Nice to see him on the field.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Two Weeks Into Season — Not Looking Good

The first two weeks

The Durham Bulls' season comes in 6-game chunks, Tuesday thru Sunday. We are two weeks into the season and the Bulls have faced two teams: the Nashville Sounds and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. They have played just 12 games. How are they doing? Not good at all.

This is not the sort of team that we are used to seeing here in Durham. 

How grim is it?

The Bulls are in 9th place in the 10-team East Division.

Batting: The team OPS is .674, 14th in the 20-team International League

Pitching: The team ERA is 5.43, 17th; the WHIP is 1.534, also 17th, and the OBA (opponents batting average) is .269, the worst in the entire IL. 

So this team has a long way to go. We can only speculate about the causes. Certainly, the pitching could be much, much better. They have 18 pitchers on the roster, most of them quite young. Plus there has been a lot of roster turmoil in the first two weeks of the season, something like 30+ transactions, many involving pitchers.

Nevertheless, in two short weeks the Bulls have dug themselves a hole that will take some time to get out of. They are off to Norfolk for a six-game stand with the Baltimore franchise, the Norfolk Tides, then come back to town for six games against the Memphis Redbirds. We'll see.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Durham Bulls Basics — Part I

The Bulls are 9 games into the season and doing OK (3-4). More about that in another post. But first: 

The Durham Bulls are the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays. 

What is Triple-A?

Every major league baseball team (there are 30) has 4 "affiliates" arranged in levels ranging from Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, and Single-A.

During the pandemic year Major League Baseball blew up the minor leagues, and the outcome was 120 teams scattered all around the country (10 of them in North Carolina, by the way). Triple-A accounts for 30 of those teams.

Triple-A baseball is organized into two leagues: 20 teams in the International League and 10 in the Pacific Coast League. There used to be a more even division of teams between the Pacific Coast League and the International League, but that's another (and not very interesting) story.

The Durham Bulls are in the International League's East Division and play most, but not all, of their games against the 10 teams in that division. In general, the teams play 6 games, take a day off for rest or travel, and play 6 games. 

Teams in the East division the Bulls will play this year are:

Jacksonville (Fla) Jumbo Shrimp (Miami Marlins): 12 Home, 12 Away 

Charlotte (NC) Knights (Chicago White Sox): 6 Home, 15 Away

Worcester (Mass) Red Sox (Boston Red Sox): 6 Away

Buffalo (New York) Bisons (Toronto Blue Jays): 6 Away

Norfolk (Virginia) Tides (Baltimore Orioles): 9 Home, 12 Away

Lehigh Valley (Penn) Iron Pigs (Philadelphia Phillies): 6

Rochester (New York) Red Wings (Washington Nationals): 0

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Penn) RailRiders (New York Yankees): 6 Home

Syracuse (New York) Mets (New York Mets): 0


Teams played outside the division are:

Memphis (Tenn) Redbirds (St Louis Cardinals): 12 Home, 6 Away

Louisville (Kentucky) Bats (Cincinnati Reds): 6 home

Nashville (Tenn) Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers): 12 Home, 6 Away

Gwinnett (Georgia) Stripers (Atlanta Braves): 6 Home, 12 Away


Season

75 home games, 75 away games

Nothing has been announced yet about the post-season, assuming that there will be one. No surprise since the International League website doesn't even have the updated division breakout.

How do the Bulls stack up?

Triple-A is the peak of minor league baseball and their players are all in the second tier of their team's rosters. That means that the quality of baseball at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is superb. Every player on the field wants to play his next game in the major leagues.

The Durham Bulls are the most successful team in recent International League history. Since 2002, the Bulls have won the championship 7 times and came in 2nd place 5 times. The only other team in the league to even come close are the Columbus Clippers (Cleveland Guardians) with 4 wins. 

4/15/22 10:58: edits to schedule — 6 games added since I did the numbers.