Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Once More Into the Breach

International League Governors' Cup

What a terrific time to be a Bulls fan. Here we are with a team full of players on very few radars except ours. They have every incentive to just keep on chasing after the cup for the next couple of days against a team that by most statistical measures has an edge on them.

The Bulls are up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to play for the International League’s Governors’ Cup against the Boston Red Sox's Triple A club ... again. Last year the series started in Durham and moved to Pawtucket. This year the series starts in Pawtucket and moves to Durham this Thursday.

Let’s start with the best single page matchup article. It’s over in the Hit Bulls Win Blog. There we find out that the Boston Red Sox have ripped off a couple of key players from Pawtucket, but that they’ve also called up a very hot, famous Cuban defector, Rusney Castillo, from AA. More on Castillo from the Providence, RI paper here.

Mostly we agree with the author of the Bulls Blog on their assessments. Plus the trash talk near the end is worthy of a look.

Left out was the projected starting rotation, possibly because Charlie Montoyo has not yet announced it. Our best guess is that he will use the same rotation we saw against Columbus: Alex Colome, Enny Romero, Matt Andriese, Nathan Karns, and Mike Montgomery. If experience counts, then that is a formidable lineup and certainly the match for Pawtucket. We have to note, however, that of the four starts last week, only one starter (Andriese) got a win.

We all know that the Bulls bullpen has both front line and second line talent in Merrill Kelly, Adam Liberatore, Josh Lueke, C.J. Riefenhauser, Jake Thompson, Doug Mathis, plus new guys Cory Burns and Bryce Stowell. The actual roster, of course, will likely shift around a lot. At a guess they are carrying at least three, and probably more, players who aren’t on the roster, but who could jump up if needed.

But this is WDBB, so we’ve got to put some numbers up there even if we have to make the contradictory assertion that for a short playoff season, then don’t mean all that much.

The item that jumps out of the seasonal stats is the runs scored. Those guys scored a ton of runs during the year. And they scored 17 more in their 3-game first-round playoff series against Syracuse. The Bulls only scored 15 runs over 4 games.

What needs to happen? Good pitching. Good defense. Keep the pressure on with aggressive base running. Look for Nick Franklin to add some value as he seeks a callup. Look for Ray Olmedo to do something special either on the field, at bat, or in the dugout.

Expectations? Too much time off for both teams. Expect some mistakes, maybe some rust. Maybe some end of season lack of focus. On both sides. Expect Patrick Kinas to call a good game.

Hopes: At least one Bulls win in Pawtucket.

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