Saturday, September 24, 2022

Durham Bulls: 5 Games Left

 The Bulls lost last night and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders won. That pulls the RailRiders to within ½ a game. Standings.




Friday, September 23, 2022

Durham Bulls: 6 Games Left

 Bottom of the 10th heroics last night kept the Bulls 1½ game lead intact. Standings.




Thursday, September 22, 2022

Durham Bulls: 7 games Left

 An ugly loss last night, but the RailRiders and the Jumbo Shrimp also lost. Bulls remain 1½ games up. Standings.



Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Durham Bulls: 8 Games Left

 Thought I'd start posting this chart. Bulls kept their 1½ game lead. Standings.




Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Week 24: Good Week in Georgia; Now for the Last Hurrah


After a tough two-loss start, the Bulls won four in a row down in Lawrenceville, Georgia. They are now back for their last home games and 1½ games ahead in the IL East. The roster is newish, but they are still playing terrific baseball. Standings.

The Bulls have six home games against the Norfolk Tides and three away games against the Charlotte Knights. That's it. End of season. No more Bulls baseball in 2022. Unless they win the IL East, then at least one game out in Las Vegas.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (in second place) have six away games against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs followed by three home games against the Buffalo Bisons. Both teams have winning records and could prove a challenge to the RailRiders. The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (in third place) had a tough time last week and they finish out their season with six home games against the Charlotte Knights and three away games against the Norfolk Tides. They could easily come back into the running if the Bulls slip.

Looks like every game is going to count.

Matchup


Norfolk is on a streak. They've won 8 of their last 10 games and 5 of their last 6. We can expect every game to be interesting and something of a lineup mismash as the two managers juggle chaotic roster moves — the Tide's parent club is making a run at a wild card slot; the Bulls' parent club is trying to hang on to theirs.

American League Wild Card

Speaking of the AL Wild Card, Baltimore has faded recently, falling almost out of contention. Will they be raiding the Tides? Probably. Will the Rays raid the Bulls? Of course they will.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Week 23: Blown Out by RailRiders; Blown Up by Rays

 With the notable exception of the 9th inning heroics on Friday, this was not a good week for the Bulls. They lost 4 out of 6 games against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the New York Yankees franchise. Their lead in the IL East dropped from 3½ games to 1½ games. Standings. The second-place teams, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Miami) and the RailRiders, are in a tie. 

Mostly last week the Bulls were not even close. The RailRiders scored 37 runs, the Bulls just 20. Only one starting pitcher went more than 3 innings. The relievers' ERA grew from 4.34 to 4.63 in one week. 

It would be nice to put the week in the past (usually a good idea in baseball), but we Bulls fans are suddenly faced with an ugly reminder of minor league baseball reality. Their parent, the Tampa Bay Rays, are off to a very tough set of games against the Toronto Blue Jays, including a doubleheader. This allows the Rays, absolute masters of roster manipulation, to shake things up. Throw into that mix the fact that at least one Ray (Brooks Raley) is not vaccinated against Covid and is not allowed into Canada. Then we see that the Bulls who are off to Georgia are not the Bulls who played in Durham last week. Six recent Bulls are in Toronto, Cooper Criswell, Javy Guerra, Keven Herget, Josh Fleming, Jimmy Yacabonis, and Yonny Chirinos. A couple are on the "taxi squad" — I have no idea what that means. But the roster on the Bulls' website isn't even close to being accurate. 

Any help coming? Hard to say. Cooper Criswell is reportedly on his way back after his start last night. Available? Who knows. Pitcher Trevor Brigden is coming up from Montgomery. 

On the positive side in the coming week, the Bulls' main competitors are facing tougher competition than the Bulls this week. The RailRiders are up against the 69-65 Worcester Red Sox, and the Jumbo Shrimp are playing the IL West leader the 81-53 Nashville Sounds.

Matchup


The Bulls are down in Georgia playing the Atlanta Braves' affiliate, the Gwinnett Braves. As with the Bulls, the Braves' parent team is trying to win its division or at least a wild card spot. Unlike the Bulls, the Braves have had a much tougher year. They are in 8th place in the IL West. Nevertheless, their pitching is pretty good. Much may depend on how well the Bulls pitcher chaos sorts itself out.

Rules

Rules that the Bulls have played under for the last couple of years (mostly) are coming to the major leagues. Pitch clock and bigger bases we've seen. What we haven't seen are the limits on positioning of infielders. Interesting that the MLB players union voted against the changes, perhaps because they could not find any internal consensus among the membership. I like the changes, with the possible exception of the freebie runner on 2B in extra innings, but the major leagues are already doing that. Should probably be noted that I'm not a fan of the tie-breaker in tennis either.


Monday, September 5, 2022

Week 22: Bulls Back Home, In First Place, But ...


The Bulls had a terrific week over in Charlotte, winning 5 out of 6 games. None were blowouts (except for the loss). The Bulls return home with a solid 3½-game lead over the second-place teams in the International League East (Jacksonville and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre). Standings.

With just 21 games left in the season (12 at home), the Bulls are in the home stretch.

But ...

Matchup

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are on quite a run since the All-Star break, almost the reverse of their parent club, the New York Yankees. The RailRiders have pulled up into a second-place tie with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. They have the potential to make a run for the lead in the IL East.


In fact, the Bulls and RailRiders show very little difference in their aggregate stats. The Bulls have an edge in hitting and run differential. But the RailRiders' pitching looks very good. This should be a week of very challenging ball for both clubs. And Wander Franco will likely be on the field doing a rehab tour. If the Bulls have a lot of trouble with the RailRiders, then the end of the season gets much more competitive.

The Bulls play today at 5 o'clock, take a day off, and then play 5 in a row. Then the Bulls trek down to Gwinnett to play the Braves, come back home to play Norfolk, and wrap up the season with three games in Charlotte. 

We would, of course, prefer for the Bulls to then travel out to Las Vegas for a championship round. We'll see.