Saturday, August 10, 2013

Painful Night

Season: 74-47; Home Stand: 2-5; Home Games Left: 8
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Merrill Kelly likely went into the 2nd inning feeling just fine, even though the evening was one of those oppressively warm steam baths we’ve been having of late. Nine batters later he had not recorded a single out and he was pulled from the game. His ERA balooned up to 3.45 from 2.59. (For the game it was a spectacularly awful 54.00!)

The Durham Bulls continue to slog through their worst home stand of the season. You know something’s not quite right when the highlights of a (so far) seven day home stand are a grand slam by a rarely used catcher and a scoreless inning pitched by that same catcher — Craig Albernaz. Don’t get me wrong, I am an obvious fan of Mr. Albernaz. Who else, beside quite possibly Albernaz himself, is going to point out that after four relief appearances he has not given up a single run. His ERA (0.00) is matched only by rehabbing major leaguer Brandon Gomes.

From a great distance there seems to be two issues at hand. First, the starting pitcher pitch counts are getting up there. Martin has just gone over 2,000; Odorizzi is at 1,800; Buschmann & Kelly started the season in Montgomery, but they have thrown 1,100 and 1,000 pitches since coming to the Bulls, so they are probably close to 2,000 as well. Montgomery had his time on the DL, but has thrown 1,400 this season with the Bulls. It’s August. I appreciate that if they were major leaguers they’d be looking at another four or five starts after September 1st, but they aren't major leaguers. Is this some late-season kind of slump for them?

The second issue is similar. The position players being run a bit ragged.

Here’s an oddity: some major league position players play more baseball (more ABs) than a minor leaguer, but many play less, a lot less. The Rays are carrying 11 pitchers and 14 position players at the moment. That will change in a few days to 12 pitchers and 13 position players. But the spread in playing time is significant. Regulars have played in over a 100 games, others are in the 80’s. The Bulls, on the other hand, are doing well to have 12 position players on the roster (they have 11 at the moment). Only a core of 5 players are over 100 games. Of those only one player (Tim Beckham) plays the same position all the time, although Mike Fontenot could probably be considered the “regular” second baseman. My point is that Montoyo is only resting two players a game while the Rays get to rest 5. With Guyer and Thompson out for the year, Bourgeois called up, and Duncan in a bit of a slump, the team is under stress.

And I have to keep reminding myself that this is the best team in minor league ball. They really are very, very good. This will sort itself out. But some days are just painful to watch.

Outside the game —
  • Interesting piece on visiting rehabber Brandon Gomes a few days ago by Robbie Knopf over at Rays Colored Glasses. What happens to the Bulls when Gomes goes back to the Rays? After Lueke's trouble last night, you have to wonder. 
  • Want to feed your inner stats geek? Try this look at  tRA over at DRaysBay. Don't blame me if you bruise your forehead on your keyboard after your eyes glaze over. Underneath it all is a very interesting insight into how to measure pitchers.

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