Friday, April 18, 2014

Kelly Resets the Bulls

Season: 11-4; Home Stand: 1-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Merrill Kelly was a big deal for the Durham Bulls last year. He’s back in town and keeping the Bulls on track this year. He’s only had four appearances, two in relief and two starts. But he nevertheless has the most innings (18), most wins (3), and a very nice 1.50 ERA.

Last night he got only slightly off track in the second inning when a walk, single, and a double put two runs across. Otherwise, he was untouched for the rest of the game. Those two hits were the only hits of the game for the Tides.

And then there’s the rehabbing major leaguer, Juan Carlos Oviedo, who got in his inning last night. Oviedo is on his way back from surgery and a stellar career as a closer. Mostly, we here at WDBB are not big fans of the Bulls' role as a place for rehabbing ball players to work on their ouchies. More often than not their constraints mean that the Bulls have to work around them and they don’t really help the team win ball games. Oviedo seems to be an exception. Apparently he’s on a “one-and-done” rule. He’s made six appearances in relief, each for one inning. His very first time out he got touched up for 3 hits and two runs and threw 14 pitches. Those were the last runs scored on him and he’s only given up 1 hit in the last 5 games. His WHIP is a stellar 0.67 and his “efficiency”/pitches per out is an equally stellar 4.28. He doesn’t count against the Bulls 25 man limit, so in his case, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Lastly, Kirby Yates had a two-inning save. He did let two guys get on base — a rarity. But his 5 saves and ERA of 0.00 are the best in the International League. You just know he’s going to get some time with the Rays this year.

Sometimes we’ve participated in that great debate regarding shortstops — do you want a strong arm or a quick release? Last night Ray Olmedo made his case for the quick release faction. My notes show three very smooth plays where the ball seemed to barely touch his glove before it was on its way to 1B. You don’t see a clothesline throw from Mr. Olmedo and he often throws sidearm. But it does not seem to matter. He is so often positioned just where he needs to be and the transfer is so smooth that he gets the out anyhow. Fun to watch the veteran at work.

Lastly, kudos to Jerry Sands for his 1st inning 2 RBI shot to right field and to Mike Fontenot for his very hard hit grounder that just ate up Norfolk’s 2B and brought the winning run home.

Outside the game —
  • Chris Gimenez, a catcher we liked to watch last year, appears to have found a home with the Round Rock Express, the AAA, Pacific Coast League, team of the Texas Rangers. There was a moment when he might have come back into the Rays system. Guess not.
  • The Bulls have four games in Norfolk then drive past Durham to go to Charlotte for four games. One of the IL schedule quirks for this year.

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