Thursday, August 10, 2017

RailRiders Come to Town

The first three games of this home series left a lot to be desired. Three unearned runs last night pretty much doomed the Bulls (and there was another unearned run in the first game). One out of three to the worst team in the west isn't good. On the other hand, the Bats pitching was pretty good.

But the Bulls are still cruising toward the IL South championship.



Today sees the best team in the International League visit the DBAP. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (isn't that a name?), the Triple-A team of the New York Yankees, just swept the Gwinnett Braves (thank you very much), but now the Bulls have to think to the future and the Governors' Cup. As can be seen, the RailRiders lead the Bulls in every category except defense. And the Bulls starting rotation is in a bit of turmoil for these four games.



How are the races looking? Well, Columbus obviously has a shot at winning in the West and Rochester is chasing Lehigh Valley for the wild card. August is interesting.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Marjama and Garton Gone; and More

Mike Marjama is (was), from this fan's perspective, the best catcher the Bulls have seen in a long while. His available stats are far better than either Curt Casali or Michael McKenry. So what have the Rays done? Traded him to the Mariners. What about the Bulls 4th best relief pitcher, Ryan Garton? Sigh. Traded to the Mariners. For what? or Whom? See limited discussion here and here.

Speaking of the Rays, they sent former Bull, but not a particular fan favorite, Tim Beckham to Baltimore. That means that the only former Bulls on the Rays active roster (position player) are Evan Longoria—who played in just 31 games on his way up 10 years ago and has been back for a couple of rehab stints and Daniel Robertson, who put in 118 games as a Bull last year. On the DL is Kevin Kiermaier who had brief stints with Durham in 2012, 2013, and 2014 before getting his call-up.

Odd set of games over in Norfolk. Two losses and a one-run win. One of the losses was yet another bullpen day. Perhaps with Blake Snell back for a while, we won't see so many of those.

Matchup

The Cincinnati Reds AAA team, the Louisville Bats are not having any better year than their parent club. The hitting for average isn't so bad, but the pitching is not good and the fielding is awful.



The big deal comes later in the week when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders come to town.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Thinking About September

The Bulls swept the Charlotte Knights in three well-played, well-pitched games. Meanwhile, we're thinking about the playoffs.

Here's how it works: The West plays the South and the North plays the Wild Card in the first round. Columbus jumped into the lead over Indianapolis yesterday. And the wild card will obviously go to whomever comes in 2nd place in the North.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Back from the Nawth; Home for Three Days

The Bulls start a very short, 3-game, home stand tonight after a successful 5 win, 2 loss road trip. They return solidly in first place in the South Division, 14 games ahead of the 2nd place Gwinnett Braves.



Two of the road games were "bullpen games". That is, the Bulls used only relievers in the games. That's something of a pattern for 2017. This year the Bulls have had 9 bullpen games, and won 7 of them.

On the field, the biggest change was the result of the Rays trading Casey Gillaspie to the White Sox. That's meant that Jake Bauers has been playing a lot of first base (the last five games). It also means that we might be seeing Gillaspie on the field in a Knights uniform tonight.

To fill the Gillaspie spot a young infielder, 24-year-old Grant Kay, was called up from Montgomery for his AAA debut. He's done very well, hitting .455 in 11 ABs, stolen 4 bases, and committed no errors in 3 games at 3B.

Overall, the Bulls' bats are not particularly hot since the All-Star break, but they are doing OK.



Matchup

Charlotte, currently in last place, is in town for the next three games. As can be seen, their problem is pitching and fielding. Their hitting is pretty good.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Wins, Trades, & Matchups

The Bulls took 3 of 4 up in Buffalo and are moving on to a re-match with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Four decent games, including a solid outing by new guy Michael Roth. That's going to be important since roster turmoil is surely going to get worse before it gets better (if it ever gets better).

The big news is that Casey Gillaspie has been traded to the White Sox for a pitcher who has gone on the Rays 25-man. Gillaspie was assigned to Charlotte by the White Sox, so the Bulls will be seeing him in the Knights' dugout next Tuesday. I'm guessing that the change in uniform will help him regain his stroke and that could mean trouble for Bulls' pitchers next week. After a tough 2017, we can only wish Mr. Gillaspie well. We've enjoyed watching him at 1B.

In other news, Jamie Schultz, last seen in a Bulls uniform for one inning in the second game of the year, April 7th, is back from the disabled list.

Matchup

Meanwhile, the IronPigs split a four-game series with the Gwinnett Braves since last the Bulls saw them. They are just 1-1/2  games back in the North Division and hold a 3-1/2 game lead in the IL wild card race. The Phillies have been shuffling the IronPigs roster at least as much as the Rays have been shuffling the Bulls roster.



Monday, July 24, 2017

Buffalo and Then Allentown

Not a bad home stand, 4 wins and 3 losses against very good teams. Since one pitcher, new guy Michael Roth accounted for 2 of the 3 losses, we can (as is our wont) blame the quality of the Tampa Bay scouting team for some of the Bulls' troubles. And it really does seem as if starting pitching tells a lot of the story for this stand as the starting crew got 4 above average Game Scores in all four wins, and the below average scores for all three losses.



But, there was the oddity last night of the Iron Pigs breaking the tie of a Bulls wild pitch that let a batter get on base after a strike out (and eventually score) and a walk-off after an IronPigs wild pitch let a runner get to third base and then score on an infield single.

Nevertheless, the Bulls still have a big lead in the South Division.


Matchup

The Bulls are off to Buffalo for four games, then to the IronPigs home for three games. The Bisons are having a tough year, but, as we've seen, the IronPigs are a very, very good team.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

IronPigs Come to Town

The Bulls did a fine job against the leading team in the IL West, the Indianapolis Indians, taking 2 out of 3 games. And they stayed well on top of the IL South.




But today they come up against a rarity for 2017 — a team with a better won-loss record than themselves. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs are the Phillies' AAA franchise and they have been having a great year. They come to town having won 6 of their last 7 games, and firmly back in contention for the IL North leadership. About the only area where there's much of a gap between the two teams is in defensive performance.