If we're talking history, the last time the Bulls met the Clippers in a playoffs (2011) the Clippers blew by them in 3 games. So that doesn’t look so good.
Managing? Well, Columbus’ Mike Sarbaugh has two Governors’ Cup championships and a National Championship as well. And the Clippers have had much the same sort of roster turmoil as the Bulls this year, as the Columbus Dispatch links below will show.
On the other hand, if pitching really is the key, then the Bulls are leading off with three strong candidates — Alex Colome, Enny Romero, and Matt Andriese. Plus, even though Tampa Bay did grab two relievers up, the Bulls still have Merrill Kelly, C.J. Riefenhauser and a couple others for long relief. Adam Liberatore and Josh Lueke for endgame are without peer in the International League.
Then there’s the “diamond”, the defensive capabilities of the catcher, middle infielders, and center fielder. The Bulls are as good as any team in the league at those positions, and they have remarkable depth.
Lastly we have to remember that this is baseball, a game of inches and fractions of inches, where a tiny mistake or a little bit of luck can mean everything. This has been a 144 game grind for the Bulls. As Charlie Montoyo (quoted in the Herald-Sun) said before they left.
“Making big plays when you had to, making big pitches when you had to,” Montoyo said. “I don’t take this year for granted for sure because you don’t see many teams win a division last in hitting or even fourth or fifth in pitching. But we were and so we ground it out. A bunch of good professionals out there.”These professionals have it within them to keep on winning games. Let’s see what happens.
Background Cup Coverage —
- Under ordinary circumstances I don’t link to newspapers with paywalls, and Durham’s Herald-Sun is the only home town newspaper in Triple-A baseball that has a paywall. But this is a good piece by Steve Wiseman, who has done some good work this year. So maybe check out a newsstand near you (are there newsstands any more?).
- Up in Columbus, the Dispatch has done a couple of pieces here and here, about their team.
- The International League has a backgrounder here.