Monday, June 19, 2017

Back From the West

Over the last several days, the teams of the International League South Division all played teams from the IL West. They did not do well.

The Bulls were 2 and 4 (1-2 against Columbus; 1-2 against Toledo). Gwinnett was also on the road and did a bit better going 3-3 (3-0 against Toledo; 0-3 against Louisville). Norfolk, at home, were 2-4 (0-3 against Indianapolis; 2-1 against Louisville). Over in Charlotte, the Knights went 3-3 (2-1 against Louisville; 1-2 against Indianapolis).

The result? Not much change over the last week. Today the Bulls start a home stand against South Division opponents (Norfolk and Charlotte).

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Meanwhile, to our surprise, the Rays aren't doing too bad this year. They're being helped immensely by young Jacob Faria, who is 3-0 since being called up a few days ago.

Matchup: Bull v Tides
Looks at bit like it did a few days ago.

Friday, June 16, 2017

On the Road in Ohio

Lots of very odd things going on up in Columbus, Ohio.

But let's start with the greatest loss to Bulls fans: Craig Albernaz is gone from the roster. Now, that happens to be a very good thing for Mr. Albernaz — he's off to be the manager of the Hudson Valley Renegades. That's a big deal. And we wish him the very best.

Replacing him as a coach is Rafael Valenzuela, about whom we know very little.

About those three games in Columbus ...

The first point to be made is that we sure hope the Bulls don't meet the Clippers in the playoffs, in seven games this year, the Bulls have lost six. In these recent three games, the Bulls lost two, but had their best hitting night of the year in the third.

For weirdness, it was hard to beat the first game that the Bulls lost 3-2. The starting pitcher (Yoel Espinal in a spot start) had a no-hitter for his entire 2 1/3 innings pitched, but also walked 7 batters and left the game with 2 runs scored and took the loss. The third run scored was unearned (in the 8th against Jeff Ames).

As mentioned, in game 2 the Bulls hitters had one of their best days of the year and shut out the Clippers 11-0, the biggest run differential this year. Unfortunately, last night the Bulls turned around and got shut out 8-0.

They are off to Toledo for three games against the Mud Hens (and the Rays are just down the road in Detroit). The Mud Hens have lost their last three games and don't match up well against the Bulls. In Durham last month the Bulls took two out of three games.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bulls Hitters So Far

Overall, the Bulls hitting crew is tied with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for batting average, and is 4th in the IL in OPS. This list is limited to those players with more than 50 plate appearances and is sorted by wOBA (weighted on-base average). Another stat in the table isn't very typical either, wRAA, which purports to measure a player's contribution.

What jumps out at me is how miserable a year Casey Gillaspie is having, so far. Undoubtedly he will improve, but it has to be extremely frustrating for him this year. Another prospect who is not having a good year at bat is Willy Adames, but not as bad as Gillaspie.

Of course, I have to point out that Dayron Varona was making a significant contribution to the team before getting released.

Update: I failed to credit the source of these data. My apologies to Fangraphs

Bulls Sweep Charlotte; Home Tonight

In addition to winning three games in a row (and improving their record to 8 of last 9 games), a couple of interesting things happened while in Charlotte.

Starting pitcher Jacob Faria, who was doing a fine job for the Bulls got called up to Tampa Bay and had a very successful debut last night down in St. Petersburg. Looks like he will come right back, though.

Reliever Yoel Espinal provided some thrills with an ugly start to the 9th inning last night — a walk, a home run, another walk — and then he struck out the side.

In the same game, Blake Honeywell had his best start of the year and Shane Peterson's two home run game was a big deal.

Overall, the Bulls return for four games against the Norfolk Tides before heading off to Columbus, Ohio.


The Tides are not having a good year, and the issue looks to be pitching, although their fielding is nothing special.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Nice Time at Home; Off to Charlotte

That was a very successful home stand. The Bulls won 5 out of 7 in mostly well-played games. As a result, they are 13 games above .500 and well ahead of the Gwinnett Braves, who are 6 games back.

Notable for the homestand was the appearance yesterday of the 26th (!) pitcher to appear on the mound in a Durham Bulls uniform this year. He was young Mr. Diego Castillo who came up from Montgomery for his first AAA appearance.

Also of note was the arrival of Alec Sole, winner of last year's WDBB Moonlight Graham Award. He got his first AAA hit! Congrats!

On a sad note, Dayron Varona was released. I really liked watching him play this year and last year, but time and competition with youngsters coming up were not in his favor. Here's hoping he finds another team.


The Bulls are off for a short visit to Charlotte. The Knights are just back from a not-very-successful trek up North. They lost five games in a row. Their defense isn't helping. .66 unearned runs per 9 innings is not a good number.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


Well, that was a disaster of a road trip. The Bulls lost five and won just one game. And the Bulls come back to play seven games against the very same teams (double header tonight!). Here's hoping they can do better at home.

What went wrong? Let's start with ...


Starting pitching has not been the Bulls strong point this season, but they're still a pretty good crew. Also, they've stayed below the league average in ERA. Nevertheless, over the six-game trip, their combined ERA went from 3.47 to 3.78 and they took the blame for two of the five losses. The relief crew, a great bunch by any measure, went from 2.63 to 2.73 and took the blame for three of the losses.

Particularly noticeable was the starting pitchers giving up 6 home runs (the relievers gave up 2) and the poor road performance of Blake Snell and Brent Honeywell.

Overall, Rochester and Pawtucket scored 30 runs (all earned, so you can't blame the defense) and the Bulls scored just 14. The team ERA went from 3.09 to 3.30.

Click on chart for larger image

Which brings me to ...

The hitters did particularly poorly over the duration of the trip. The team OPS (On Base Percentage plus Slugging) dropped from .759 to .728.

Meanwhile, the Gwinnett Braves were at home winning 6 of 7 games and climbing back to within 2½ games of the Bulls.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Matchup: Bulls vs PawSox

Seems like the entire Northeast got rained out yesterday, so the Bulls moved on to Pawtucket, Rhode Island for four games against the Boston Red Sox AAA team.

The Bulls split their two games with the Rochester Red Wings, with a very dramatic comeback win in the second game. The rained out game, by the way, will be played as part of a double-header the day the Bulls come back to Durham.


Most years Bulls/PawSox games are terrific contests, especially when the Red Sox Nation turns out in force at the DPAC. This year the PawSox aren't doing so well. We'll have to see. The Bulls lead them in every category except fielding.

Thanks to Hank chasing down Taylor Guerrieri's status. Doesn't sound good.