Thursday, June 30, 2016

Geltz Does a Bateman

Game 81, June 30, 2016, BB&T Park
Durham Bulls: 3
Charlotte Knights: 2
10 innings
Season: 36-45; Trip: 2-1
Wrap, Box, Charlotte Observer
Game Score: Schultz 63; Season Avg 55 (16 starts, 81.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .632; Season .658; Diff -.026
Tm wOBA: Game .289; Season .297; Diff -.008

Joe Bateman was a reliever for the Durham Bulls several years ago (2009-2011, stats). Bulls fans will remember that he was famous for getting into very difficult situations, and then getting out of them. Last night Steve Geltz "did a Bateman."

After Geltz's colleague, Mark Sappington, threw the ball away to allow a tie game in the 8th, the Bulls came back in the top of the 10th on Jake Goebbert's third RBI of the game that drove in Johnney Field (who was running for Mayo Acosta). The Bulls were up 3-2 when Mr. Geltz came in for his Batemanesqe moment(s).

First, he gave up a single to Charlotte's Jacob May. The next batter popped up to Geltz. But May stole second base and then went to third base on a Geltz wild pitch. That put a runner at 3B, one out, and  former Bull Jason Bourgeois at bat. Bourgeois at-bat went on and on and on, reaching 11 pitches before striking out. Two outs. Another former Bull came to the plate, Jerry Sands. He hit a fly ball to Dayron Varona in center field to end the game.

My cardiologist has a mixed opinion regarding pitchers like Steve Geltz (and Joe Bateman). Yes, it's probably a good thing to get your heart rate up from time to time. No, it's probably not a good thing to do it at 10 o'clock at night sitting in front of your computer staring at the MiLB streaming video.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Die By the Home Run; Live By the Home Run

Game 79, June 28, BB&T Ballpark, Charlotte, North Carolina
Durham Bulls (Rays): 4
Charlotte Knights (White Sox): 5
Game 1: 7 innings

Game Score: Pruitt 36; Season Avg 56 (16 Starts, 92 Innings)
Tm OPS: Game 1.047; Season .653; Diff +.394
Tm wOBA: Game .457; Season .293; Diff +.164

Game 80, June 28
Durham Bulls: 7
Charlotte Knights: 2
Game 2: 7 innings
Season: 35-45; Trip: 1-1
Wrap, Box, Charlotte Observer

Game Score: Markel 60; Season 60 (1 Start, 3 innings)
Tm OPS: Game 1.158 (season high); Season .659; Diff +.499
Tm wOBA: Game .494; Season .297; Diff +.197

Lots of Bulls hitters had a big day in the first game. Luke Maile had a home run. Richie Shaffer had a home run. Cameron Seitzer went 3 for 3. The Bulls outhit the Knights 14 to 8. But the Knights' two home runs were more timely than the Bulls' home runs. The Knights' home runs came in one inning and one was a grand slam. And that was enough.

The Bulls kept it up in the second game with Dayron Varona hitting two home runs and earning a nasty brushback in his last at bat. J.P. Arencibia hit two doubles and a single and broke through the Mendoza line.

Two home runs, three doubles, a triple, five singles  added up to the best Tm OPS of the year. But it needed decent pitching. They got it from a bullpen crew.

Outside the game —
  • Austin Pruitt and Dylan Floro were picked for the International League All-Star Team. Game to be played in Charlotte on July 13th.
  • Jaff Decker has been DFA'd. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rainy Day Notes

Last night's game in Charlotte got rained out and it looks like the Bulls and Knights will play a double-header this evening starting at 6:05. Assuming usual IL rules, they will be 7-inning games.

Meanwhile —
  • Demonstrating yet again that WDBB doesn't understand modern baseball, we heard manager Jared Sandberg say in his daily radio interview yesterday evening that Cameron Seitzer "had a good 3-0 swing last night." Our view, as we expressed yesterday, was incredulity that a batter with a .174 batting average, with runners on 2nd and 3rd base and two outs, would be swinging away on a 3-0 count. Seitzer flew out to right field to end the inning. 
  • Left-handed starting pitcher Adam Wilk has gone on the disabled list. His last outing was tough, but his numbers (except for won-loss) were just fine. Hope he's back soon.
  • In a bizarre move, Danny Farquhar is back to Tampa Bay. He was called up to a game in Baltimore, sent back to the Bulls, and then called back up in the space of a couple of days. Don't know if he actually made all those trips. Hope not.
  • Right-handed reliever Ryan Webb, who had been with the Bulls on a rehab assignment, has been designated for assignment. That puts two Rays pitchers in "DFA Limbo", Webb and Andrew Bellatti.

Monday, June 27, 2016


Game 77, Saturday, June 25, DBAP
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies): 7
Durham Bulls (Rays): 1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Marks 56; Season 50 (10 starts, 53.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .558; Season .651; Diff -.093
Tm wOBA: Game .253; Season .294; Diff -.041

Game 78, Sunday, June 26, DBAP
Lehigh Valley IronPigs: 3
Durham Bulls: 2
10 innings
Season: 34-44; Home Stand: 4-3
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Faria 76
Tm OPS: Game .485; Season .648; Diff -.163
Tm wOBA: Game .219; Season .293; Diff -.074

After a four-game sweep of Charlotte and getting our hopes up, the Bulls lose three to the Iron Pigs. Let's just add a couple of observations to the wrap and Herald-Sun reports.

Jacob Faria's Triple-A debut was quite good. He lived up to his promise. Now the Bulls have four good starters in the mix.

Just what is Dylan Floro? We've watched him all last year as a starting pitcher. This year he looked to be a long reliever. Then he moved into a closer role and did OK (4 saves, 2 blown saves) at that. Seems to me to be a tough deal to change roles in mid-game, as he had to do last night. At a distance, he doesn't seem to be being treated right this year.

Why is a sub .200 hitter swinging away on a 3-0 count with runners in scoring position (Seitzer, 4th inning)?

Sounds a bit like the guys in the press box are paying attention to other issues as well. Here's a quote from the Herald-Sun:
Sandberg said he was not alarmed at four batters in two days watching called third strikes with runners in scoring position. “It’s part of the game. Hitting’s not easy,” he said. A hitter’s decision to swing “depends on the pitch sequence, pitch type, their approach.”
By the way, the Bulls dropped back to third place in the South Division.

Outside the game —
  • Steve Geltz is coming back.
  • So is Tyler Sturdevant.
  • Danny Farquhar got called up under the double-header roster expansion rule, pitched one inning, giving up a home run, and was immediately sent back. At least I think that's what happened.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays have lost eleven games in a row. Rays bloggers are speculating about whether or not Rays leadership will blow the team up and hope for better luck next year.  Unfortunately for those of us watching their careers, the Bulls who've been called up in recent weeks don't seem to have been able to take advantage of their opportunity (Taylor Motter, Nick Franklin, Jaff Decker).
Road to .500

A while back broadcaster Scott Pose made the observation that this year it looks like a team could take the IL South Division just by playing .500 ball. I thought I'd put together a "Road to .500" chart to see how the Bulls were doing toward that goal. From mid-season, 72 games, here's how it's going.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Streak Ends

Game 76, Friday, June 25, DBAP
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia): 4
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 1
Season: 43-32; Home Stand: 4-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Wilk 73; Season Avg 54; Diff +19
Tm OPS: Game .485; Season .682; Diff -.197
Tm wOBA: Game .201; Season .294; Diff  -.093

Adam Wilk deserved better. He's had three good starts in June, but only one win. Last night he was fine until the 6th. And even then only let two runs in.

About the only other bright spot in the game was new guy Eury Perez's first at bat, a double. Plus he scored the first run.

Statistical trivia: The Bulls baserunners have only stolen 1 base in the last 16 games.

Outside the game —
  • If you want to dig deeper into the Bulls current opponent, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, check out Kram's look at the 'Pigs at mid-season. Very different from WDBB's approach (here). Nice piece of work on his part. He obviously knows his players well.
  • Reliever Andrew Bellatti has been DFA'd. Remember him? He made 6 appearances for the Bulls at the beginning of the season, none very successful. He gave up 5 runs in 5⅓ innings and then went on the disabled list. I wonder how that works. If a team dumps you, are you on your own for medical care/rehab? If he clears waivers, is Tampa Bay stuck with him? I assume he's down at their facility at Port Charlotte, Florida.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Short and Sweep

Game 75, Thursday, June 24, DBAB
Charlotte Knights: 1
Durham Bulls: 9
5 innings
Season: 34-41; Home Stand: 4-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Pruitt 57; Season Avg 58 (16 starts, 86 innings)
Tm OPS: Game 1.167 (season high); Avg .654
Tm wOBA: Game .508 (season high); Avg .295

The shortest game of the year was one of the most thrilling — home runs, manager tossed, storm clouds hulking over the outfield walls, an exceptional play at 3B, a win (and 4-game sweep), and a move into second place in the IL South.

Let's work this back to front, because the end of the game saw a very professional, yet nearly unique play. Weather began closing in around the DBAP in the 3rd inning. I started moving toward the exit above center field in the 4th inning when the rain started blowing in. What was urgent at that time was to get in 5 innings before the weather halted the game. The Bulls were ahead 9 to 1 and if they didn't "finish" soon the game would have to be resumed at some date in the future. The Bulls had a quick bottom of the 4th. Now, if they could just get through the top of the 5th.

The first Charlotte batter of the 5th, Nicky Delmonico, floated a popup over third baseman Richie Shaffer's head The wind scrambled things up and the shortstop, third baseman, and left fielder ended up in a cluster around the ball. Richie Shaffer's throw came in to the pitcher Austin Pruit in the middle of the infield and Delmonico figured he could make it to an open third base. He had not counted on the sheer baseball smarts of catcher J.P. Arencibia. Arencibia was at the bag, took Pruitt's throw, and made the out. I don't think I've seen a catcher cover third base before except for  a rundown. Terrific play. Perhaps the game-winning play.

But wait. There's more. The rains intensified. The next batter grounded out, but it took six pitches to get there. The rain was getting harder. On the fourth pitch to the next batter, a fly ball went to left and Jake Goebbert laid himself out  for the inning-ending out. If Goebbert doesn't make that play, the game would be suspended. Instead of eventually being called. Boom! I'm running for my car. The tarp is coming out as the skies opened up.

From Charlotte's point of view, I'd guess they'd put it down to sheer bad luck in the 2nd inning. Their pitcher, Scott Carroll had K'd the side in the 1st inning. But Dayron Varona led off the 2nd inning with a home run (his 9th). Then J.P. Arencibia and Luke Maile singled and a passed ball put runners on second and third. Juniel Querecuto K'd for the first out and Cameron Seitzer's ground ball didn't go far enough so that J.P. Arencibia was caught trying to get home. That put runners on 1B and 3B with two outs. It looked like Charlotte was going to get out the  inning.

Not so fast. Charlotte's third baseman's throw on Johnny Field's ground ball bit the dirt, skipped past the first baseman, a run scored, and Bulls went on the second and third base. Things came undone. Two singles, two walks, and a double later, 6 runs had scored in the inning, Carroll had thrown 65 pitches, and he was out of there.

It could have been even worse. Of course, J.P. Arencibia was in the middle of it. On his second at-bat of the inning, he lofted a ball over the Blue Monster that the ump called a home run. That would have been three more runs. It was an obviously bad call to those of us on the first base side of the field (although we were not going to say anything!) and Charlotte players and their manager erupted and got an umps' conference. The umps reversed the call and Jared Sandberg jumped into it. He must've said something ugly, because he got tossed just as the Bulls baserunners were going back to their bases and Arencibia went back to bat. His objection and ejection were particularly silly on Sandberg's part. If anyone should have seen it was foul it would have been Sandberg from his 3B coaching position. What was there to argue about? By my count, that was the third time this season he's been tossed this year.

By the way, Arencibia drew a walk. Pitchers were changed. Luke Maile flew out to end the inning with the bases loaded. 12 Durham Bulls came to bat in the inning.

In the 3rd inning the Bulls added three more runs on a Jake Goebbert sac fly and a Richie Shaffer double. The rains were coming.

Austin Pruitt gets a "complete game" win out of the deal. And he did look just fine throughout.

This is a very odd circumstance. The Bulls were swept three games to Norfolk, the worst team in the International League. Then they win  four in a row from the team that leads the IL South Division. Plus the Bulls move into second place in the division even though they are 7 games below .500.

Apparently, Shaffer's injury on Wednesday was not all that bad. Reportage on the radio said that when he hit the ground he felt an immediate numbness down his arm and side, something he'd never felt before and that's why he was taken out of the game. In his pregame interview, Sandberg did not sound concerned at all and Shaffer played just fine.

Outside the game —

  • Two new Bulls were seen leaning on the dugout rail last night. One transaction has been announced. The other will probably come out today.
  • Eury Perez was acquired from the Houston Astros. He's been playing in Fresno (How come the Astros AAA team is in Fresno, CA?). Looks to be our (or at least WDBB's) kind of guy — a speedy center fielder. Stats
  • Jacob Faria was also in the dugout. We are assuming he's coming up from Montgomery. The 22-year-old right-hander had a stunning 2015 at Port Charlotte and Montgomery. Less impressive this year with a 4.21 ERA in 83 innings. Still, a legit prospect who chose to go pro out of high school. Radio guys said he was going go into the rotation and that Eddie Gamboa was going back to the bullpen. Stats.
  • Dr. Miraculous has posted his take on the Montgomery Biscuits season to date.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Big Day at Bat; Shaffer?

Game 74, Wednesday, June 22, DBAP
Charlotte Knights: 4
Durham Bulls: 6
Season: 33-41; Home Stand: 3-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Schultz 50; Season Avg 54 (15 Starts, 77.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game 1.018; Season .649
Tm wOBA: Game .435, Season .293

A big day at bat for the Bulls, as the stats show. But let's get to what matters to Bulls fans first — Richie Shaffer. From a distance (We watched the game on TV) it looked like a "face plant" as he sprawled to his left reaching for a ground ball. After he finally stood up trainer was busy checking out his upper jaw. Today's Herald-Sun is the only source we have on outcome:
The Bulls lost third baseman Richie Shaffer in the sixth inning after he landed hard while diving for a ground ball. He was able to walk off the field. Sandberg speculated that Shaffer may have injured his neck or upper back.
Assuming tradition followed, any update is more likely to come from Tampa Bay than local sources, although perhaps from the radio lead-in to today's game.

Shaffer's departure led to a reshuffle of folks on the field including bringing in Mayo Acosta to catch. We like Acosta and we could not be more happy to report that he got his first hit of the year after 32 at-bats.

Meanwhile, Luke Maile got his first home run of the year, Jake Goebbert got his 6th (plus a sac fly), and Jayron Varona got his 8th.

Jamie Schultz was much improved from his last two starts, which were not very good at all. In fact, all of the Bulls pitchers kept all the Knights in check — except for former Bull and Smithfield High School product Jerry Sands. Sands hit two 2-run homers. Essentially telling the White Sox they shouldn't have DFA'd him. (Ironically, he was DFA'd to make room for another former Bull James Shields.)

If the name of the pitcher getting the win, Dana Eveland, is new to you, that's because he's new to the Bulls. It was his first appearance in a Bulls uniform. "Well-traveled" would be an understatement describing the 32-year-old's career. He has played for 10 different major league teams and 9 different AAA teams. Experience could be a good thing, though. I'd guess it depends on how he works out in the clubhouse.

Outside the Game —
  • Gonna be a bit warmish tonight. Predicting 97° for game time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pretty Game

Game 73, Tuesday, June 21, DBAP
Charlotte Knights: 1
Durham Bulls: 3
Season: 32-41; Home Stand: 2-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Gamboa 57; Season Avg 46 (3 starts, 9.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .700; Season .644
Tm wOBA: Game .312; Season .291

Sometimes we get so caught up in our numbers that we forget what a genuinely beautiful game this is.

Last night we got to watch Eddie Gamboa flutter his knuckleball in towards the plate at 71 mph for 3 innings, and then a parade of four more Bulls kept the Knights in check. Only in the 8th were we particularly worried when runners got on second and third base. Richie Shaffer showed his chops as a third baseman, grabbing a grounder and throwing home to prevent a run. They got out of that inning, then Danny Farquhar struck out the side in the 9th to end a very quick game (only a few minutes over 2 hours long).

For the first three innings, the Bulls simply chipped away at Charlotte. In fact, if not for two very timely double plays by the Knights, the score could have been much more in favor of the Bulls.

Good pitching. Good defense. Good hitting. Great weather. A win. What more could you ask for?

Outside the game —
  • Nick Franklin got called up to Tampa Bay.
  • Juniel Querecuto came back to the Bulls from Montgomery.
  • After throwing a grand total of 7 pitches on Monday, Ryan Garton went back up to the Rays.
  • Reliever Dana Eveland is reported to be in the Bulls bullpen. Have not seen him yet.
  • Nice to hear that Mikie Mahtook's broken hand will not require surgery.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Durham Bulls at Mid-Season

The International League season is 144 games. Yesterday's game 72 was the midpoint. How are the Bulls doing? Not so good.


The Bulls at 31 wins and 41 losses are in third place in a very weak South Division. The good news (?) is that a solid run towards a .500 season might get them to the playoffs. Of course, that's exactly what Gwinnett, Charlotte, and Norfolk must be thinking.

Run Differentials

Runs differentials are a good metric to watch and here the Bulls are really in trouble. If you crunch this difference (currently -61) through Bill James' Pythagorean Expectation formula you come up with an "expectation" that things should be even worse — a won-loss record of 29-43.

How does the current run differential compare to previous years? It is approaching that of 2012, the worst year in the Triple-A Durham Bulls history.


Twenty-five ballplayers have stepped up on the mound for the Durham Bulls this year. Two of them (Mayo Acosta and Dayron Varona) were position players. The performance of all of them is charted below. The team ERA of 3.67 is tied for 8th place in the 14-team International League. They strike out a lot of people, 654, and lead the IL in that category.

Until recently, the starting crew was doing exceptionally well. However, during this last road trip the starters were getting steadily worse.


The big issue with this year's Durham Bulls is the weak hitting. The Bulls batting average, .256, is league-worst, as is the team OPS, .643. Furthermore, the current trend is drifting downward.

Individual Hitters

Twenty different players have come to bat for the Bulls so far this year. None of them has been particularly impressive. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the performance of the "invitation to spring training/minor league contract" guys. These are the players who usually make a difference. So far in 2016, not so much. We're talking about players like Kyle Roller, Jake Goebbert,  Dayron Varona and J.P. Arencibia. My impression is that Dayron Varona is doing better than his numbers show. He does have 30 RBI. We like him. Richie Shaffer, expected to be the big gun this year, has been disappointing. He would surely agree. An oddity in his numbers is that he leads the team in strikeouts (74) and comes close to leading the team in walks (33). Note that the leaders on this board have very few plate appearances.

This table is sorted by wOBA. The wRAA stat (Weighted Runs Above Average) gives a sense of what the player is contributing to the team in terms of runs.

Johnny Field
Jake Hager
Kyle Roller
Richie Shaffer
Daniel Robertson
Nick Franklin
Dayron Varona
Jake Goebbert
J.P. Arencibia
Luke Maile
Cameron Seitzer

Source: Fangraphs.

Here's a way to understand the table. Note that the Bulls have a lot of "awfuls" and only one even "above average."

Above Average
Below Average

Bulls Start With a Win; Callups Coming?

Game 72, Monday, June 20, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina
Charlotte Knights (White Sox): 2
Durham Bulls (Rays):3
10 innings
Season: 31-41; Home Stand: 1-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Marks 60; Season Avg 49 (9 games, 53.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .575; Season .644
Tm wOBA: Game .261; Season .291

Justin Marks had an unusually good start, but left the game with the Bulls behind by one run. The bullpen crew threw no-hit ball for 3⅔ innings and the Bulls scored a run on a Nick Franklin single, a Richie Shaffer double, and a Dayron Varona single tieing the game.

In the 10th, after the Bulls got runners on 1B and 3B, Charlotte let Cameron Seitzer get to 2B on defensive indifference, then gave up on a 3-2 1 (oops! Tnx Chris) count and intentionally walked Johnny Field. Knights pitcher Tommy Kahnle walked Daniel Robertson and the Bulls got their first win in quite a while.

This is a critical series for the Bulls as they reach the half-way point of the season. Good start.

Outside the game —
  • The Bulls are now ½ game out of second place in the south.
  • Two Tampa Bay players were injured yesterday. WDBB favorite Mikie Mahtook had his hand broken by a pitch and infielder Steve Pierce pulled a hamstring. More info here and here
  • Can expect two callups today. Bulls currently on the Rays 40 man are Richie Shaffer, Nick Franklin, and Luke Maile. However, the Rays are very clever about manipulating the rules. So, they could add to the roster. Who gets a call? I'd guess Richie Shaffer for one. But who else? Dayron Varona? Or give a prospect a shot? Johnny Field?
Update: Nick Franklin got the call to Tampa Bay (playing in Cleveland). Juniel Querecuto called back from Montgomery. Still short one on roster.
Update to Update (16:19): Relief pitcher Ryan Garton recalled (didn't occur to me that Rays would reach out for a pitcher. Bulls now two short on roster.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Durham Bulls Limp Home

Game 69, Friday, June 17, Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia
Durham Bulls: 2
Norfolk Tides: 4
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot
Game Score: Schultz 41; Season Average 55 (14 starts, 72 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .683; Season .651
Tm wOBA: Game .297; Season .294

Game 70, Saturday, June 18, Harbor Park
Durham Bulls: 0
Norfolk Tides: 1
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot
Game Score: Pruit 74; Season Average 58 (14 starts, 81 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .198; Season .645
Tm wOBA: Game .102; Season .292

Game 71, Sunday, June 19, Harbor Park
Durham Bulls: 6
Norfolk Tides: 10on
Season: 30-41; Trip: 2-7
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

Game Score: Wilk 13; Season Average 53 (14 Starts. 80.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .580; Season .645
Tm wOBA: Game .258; Season .291

After his best game of the year on June 13, Adam Wilk followed up with his worst. But the Bulls were not helped by what turned out to be one of Jared Sandberg's worst decisions of the season.

By the middle of the 5th inning, Wilk had already given up 9 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs. He was on his 97th pitch. He'd walked two batters and given up a single so far in the inning, loading the bases. A reliever was warmed up in the Durham bullpen. Yes, there were two outs and, yes, Tides' shortstop  Ozzie Martinez had little reputation, but what was the risk in taking out a pitcher who arguably should not have even started the inning?

Wilk gave up a grand slam and the Bulls were behind 8 to 2. They never caught up.

This was an awful road trip, the Bulls losing 7 out of 9 games. In these last three games they were swept by the worst team in the league, although you could now say that the Bulls are closing in on that distinction. Today's game will be the midpoint of the season (the International League plays 144 games, today is game 72) and we will be putting together some midseason stats. But they will not be pretty.

Why? We'll take a look at that. We could blame the Rays, and there's something to be said for that. They just got their head handed to them by the San Francisco Giants and their pitchers and hitters are not having great seasons. You could even argue that last season's turnover at the top of the Rays organization is behind what begins to look like two less-than-stellar seasons for the Bulls.

The question remains, however, are these players improving over the season or not? And if they are not, what's going on?

Should we even mention that in addition to the justly famed Bill Evers and Charlie Montoyo, the Triple-A Bulls had another manager who's name is never spoken, even though he managed the current Tampa Bay Rays manager? Should we mention he managed the 2006 Bulls who finished 15½ games out of first in the South?

Outside the game —
  • Reliever Ryan Garton is back.
  • Reliever Steve Geltz got called up.
  • A Tampa Bay rehab, Ryan Webb, has joined the Bulls. He has never pitched for the Rays. He has pitched one inning for the Bulls and was charged with the loss.
  • Tampa Bay reliever Dana Eveland may be showing up soon. He brings a less-than-stellar major league ERA of 7.56 over 16+ innings with him.
  • The Bulls roster is short a couple of position players.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Tampa Bay Rays in Pictures

The Durham Bulls had yesterday off, so I thought this might be a good time for Bulls fans to take a look at the parent club. Six players who started the year with the Bulls are with the Rays now, so we have an interest in them. They include Matt Andriese, Blake Snell, and Tyler Sturdevant among the pitchers (Ryan Garton just got sent back); and Taylor Motter, Jaff Decker, and Mikie Mahtook among the position players (Nick Franklin just came back).

How are the Rays doing?

The Tampa Bay Rays are tied with the New York Yankees for last place in the American League East. The last couple of weeks show an upward trend.

click on chart for larger image

Similarly, the last couple of weeks saw an improvment in the run differentials. The Rays remain a couple of games below their Pythagorean Expectation, which implies trouble on the pitching side.

The Rays great strength has always been their starting pitching (frequently ex-Bulls). Not so much this year. This chart shows the average Game Score for their starters. Note the numbers after players name are (starts, innings). Since 50 is the target for this metric it’s obvious that the Rays are just barely getting by. Matt Adriese is being moved to the bullpen, at least for the short term, while Blake Snell has just had the two games. Chris Archer and Matt Moore are not doing well at all.

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs Norfolk Tides

Given the relentless pace of a minor league season, it just doesn’t seem fair that the Bulls had to take a day off while on the road. But that’s what happened. Today’s game starts at 1905.

If it seems like the Bulls just finished playing the Norfolk Tides, Baltimore’s AAA team, you’d be right. A few days ago they played two games in Norfolk and two games in Durham. The Bulls split the series 2–2. Since then the Bulls have gone 2–4 against two North Division opponents and the Tides have gone 2–4 against Gwinnett and Charlotte. Both teams are back where they were on June 6th when we posted this matchup.

As might be expected, the Tides are very well-matched with the Bulls being 14th in hitting and the Tides being 13th. The Bulls are 7th in pitching and the Tides 12th. If you crank their run differentials through the Pythagorean Expectation formula, the Tides “should” be much better (26–41 instead of 23–44) and the Bulls “should” be even worse (27–41 instead of 30–38).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bisons/Rays Shred Bulls

Game 67, June 14, Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York
Durham Bulls: 1
Buffalo Bisons: 5
Wrap, Box, The Buffalo News

Game Score: Marks 46; Season (8 starts) 48
Tm OPS: Game .373; Season: .649
Tm wOBA: Game .169; Season: .293


Game 68, June 15, Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York
Durham Bulls: 4
Buffalo Bisons: 6
Season: 30–38; Trip: 2–4
Wrap, Box

Game Score: Gamboa 27; Season (2 starts) 41
Tm OPS: Game .770; Season .651
Tm wOBA: Game .337; Season .294

After a month on the disabled list and three short relief appearances, Eddie Gamboa got tossed into the fire last night. It wasn’t pretty. I’m guessing that catchers J.P. Arencibia and Luke Maile tossed a coin to see who would receive the knuckleballer. Arencibia lost. So, after a decent 1st inning, the 2nd inning began with two walks and a single (run scored). Then, a pickoff got the first out. Two more singles and an HBP loaded the bases (run scored on first single). Then came the first passed ball (run scored). After a K, Gamboa was out. He ended up being charged with 5 runs over his 1⅔ innings.

All hail the relief crew, who under real stress allowed only 1 run (not counting the 2 left behind by Gamboa) to score for the rest of the game. Plus the 3 runs the Bulls scored in the 7th certainly put the game back within reach.

Outside the game —
  • Here’s where things are getting a bit chaotic. Follow along, please.
  • Blake Snell was called up, sort of. His callup isn’t quite official until some magic moment before he steps on the mound. That means that the Rays don’t have to take anyone off their active roster until then. And they haven’t. That’s why Gamboa was starting last night. 
  • Jaff Decker has been called up, but he wasn’t on the 40-man. 
  • The Rays made room by Designating for Assignment one of their relief pitchers, Dana Eveland [stats]. Eveland certainly has a lot of experience in the IL, but his year with the Rays has been less than stellar. ERA 7.56. No telling if he will make it through waivers. Plus, the Rays are going to have to replace him eventually. Probably by bringing up a Bull on the 40-man (Danny Farquhar and Steve Geltz are the only ones left). 
  • Bulls reliever Parker Markel has been suspended, but I missed the details on that. Probably because he was throwing at Iron Pigs the other night. So can’t blame the Rays for that. Can blame the Iron Pigs, though.
  • The Bulls have today off, so some of these holes will likely get filled today or tomorrow. And Markel’s suspension can’t last forever.

Meanwhile, the Bulls are 4 games away from mid-season and in third place in a pretty pathetic South Division. Standings.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hitting and Pitching Comes Alive

Game 66, June 13, Coca-Cola Field, Buffalo, New York
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 5
Buffalo Bisons (Toronto): 0
Season: 30–36; Trip: 2–2
Wrap, Box, The Buffalo News

Game Score: Wilk 82; Season Avg 55
Tm OPS: Game .987; Season .653
Tm wOBA: Game .406; Season .295

Adam Wilk had a terrific game, leading the Bulls to their sixth shutout of the year.

The score does not quite reflect the terrific day the Bulls had at bat, though. As the stats above show, as a team they were well above their season totals: 4 doubles, 2 triples (Johnny Field and Jake Hager), and a home run by J.P. Arencibia (his second in two days) led to 23 total bases. A great day for the Bulls as they took advantage of a bit of turmoil in the Bison’s pitching rotation.

In general, the Bulls’ offense has not been kind to Mr. Wilk this year. Several decent efforts were not been rewarded. Last night they were. Plus, he was at his most efficient. He only needed 77 pitches to get through a full 8 innings. That’s just a little over 3 pitches per out. To put that in context, the typical Bulls pitcher this year averages over 5 pitches per out. Over 75 innings this year, Wilk's only allowed 9 walks. In other words, if you’re a batter you might as well swing, because the ball is going to be over the plate.

Outside the game —
  • Nick Franklin is back. Unless I’m reading the stats wrong, he essentially had a “Moonlight Graham” visit. He had a grand total of three plate appearances in three games, drew two walks, and had one inning in left field. In his one recorded AB he pinch-hit for pitcher Matt Moore in an interleague game and flew out to center field. His sacrifice fly in last night's first inning scored what turned out to be the winning run. His ground out in the 5th to deep short brought in another run. Franklin has 25 RBIs on the year and I’m happier that he’s here rather than sitting on a bench in St. Petersburg, even though I’m sure he isn’t.
  • Juniel Querecuto was sent to Montgomery to make room for Franklin.
  • No one has been named to fill the hole that Blake Snell will leave behind.
  • Note that the Bulls just played a series against the Iron Pigs in Coca-Cola Park and now they are playing a series against the Bisons in Coca-Cola Field. Seems like Atlanta’s favorite beverage has made a lot of folks rich up in the North, rich enough to want to name a ballpark after their business.
  • Keep an eye out for a pitcher named Jonny Venters, who is working his way up through the system. He is coming back from his third Tommy John surgery. Stories at MLB Trade Rumors and sites.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Buffalo Bisons

The Buffalo Bisons are the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and are having a decent year. They are tied for fourth place in the six-team North Division, 3½ games out of first place. Standings.

The teams match up pretty well, especially pitching. As usual, the Bulls are far back on the hitting scale. They’ve even dropped a couple of points from a few days ago, but the Bisons aren’t not too much better.


Game 65, June 12, Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Durham Bulls: 10
Lehigh Valley IronPigs: 3
Season: 29–36; Trip: 1–3
Wrap, Box

Game Score: Pruit 60; Season Avg 56
Tm OPS: Game .889; Season .647
Tm wOBA: Game .371; Season .293

After getting shut out on Friday (0–4) and absolutely hammered on Saturday (1–16), it seems only fair that the Bulls could come back and win going away (10–3). That the winning hit came in the first inning by a grand slam from a guy who started the season with the ’Pigs seems only fair as well.

J.P. Arencibia, batting 6th, came up with 2 outs and the bases-loaded and hit the first grand slam by any Bull this year. Three more runs in the 4th, and another three in the 9th put the Bulls in double digits for the first time in 2016.

Those three runs in the 9th came from a Jake Goebbert home run, his 5th of the season. Possibly a good time to wonder what his left-handed bat is bringing to the team. He is hitting just .189/.299/.315, but for this weak-hitting team, he’s among five other players on the active roster who are below .200 and when you dive into the advanced stats, his wOBA is .264 which puts him 6th out of the active bunch (remember that Mahtook, Franklin, Corporan, Leonard, Motter, and Acosta aren’t on the current roster). But, again, it isn’t stellar company. And yet his history is strong. He’s more than 200 points below his career Triple-A OPS stats. Does he just need to get used to being on the East Coast?

Austin Pruitt’s last time out was pretty shaky. This time, he looked great. If I were in the second-guessing business (Me? Second guess?), I’d point out that leaving him in to begin the 8th was a risky move. But, no harm was done and Pruitt got past the 100 pitch mark for the first time this season.

Outside the game –
  • Blake Snell has been called up to start a game against Seattle in a couple of days. Hints are that he might stay with the Rays. No word on a corresponding roster move. Former 2016 Bull Matt Andriese will be moved into a relief role.


Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell) is an obviously talented photographer who's work sometimes appears on the Noise Nation website. She tweeted out several photos of Bulls during their visit to Allentown. Thanks, Cheryl!! 

Photo by Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell)

Photo by Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell)

Photo by Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell)

Photo by Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell)

Photo by Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Whew! That Really Stunk

Game 64, June 12, Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Durham Bulls: 1
Lehigh Valley IronPigs: 16
Wrap, Box, The Morning Call,

Game Score: Schultz 15; Avg 56
Tm OPS: Game .198; Season .642
Tm wOBA: Game .188; Season .291

One of the nice things about writing a blog is that you don’t have to say anything at all. So I won’t.

If you’re curious, the Morning Call link almost explains why Jared Sandberg and Parker Markel got thrown out of the game. Something to do with an IronPig bunting with an 8 run lead.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Tough Night in Allentown

Blake Snell, June 10, 2016
Photo courtesy Cheryl Pursell, Noise Nation

Game 63, June 10, Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 0
Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Philadelphia): 4
Wrap, Box, Noise Nation

Game Score: Snell 55; Season Avg 56
Tm OPS: Game  .491; Season  .648
Tm wOBA: Game .178; Season .293

OK, I get it that Blake Snell is a super-star in the making. And he did have 13 strikeouts last night. What I don’t get is why no one is pointing out that he also lost the game. Yes, the Durham Bulls could have at least scored a run or two and instead were shut out for the 11th time this season. However, it was Snell that gave up 7 hits and 3 runs. And it’s Snell who has the worst WHIP among the top four Bulls starters, the worst ERA, and is the least efficient (pitches per out). The young man, as impressive as he is, has a ways to go.

He will undoubtedly get there. As a Bulls fan, I’m reminded of David Price’s tour as a Bull. He also was a great pitcher in the making, but he didn’t really help the Bulls win many games.

Richie Shaffer, June 10, 2016, Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, PA
Photo Courtesy Cheryl Pursell

Meanwhile, thanks to Cheryl Pursell (@CherylPursell) who takes photos for the Noise Nation blog. Great shots from last night. It does look like Richie Shaffer is figuring out where to land, doesn’t it? Check out the Noise Nation blog for another look at Snell’s performance.

And what’s that “cheesesteaks” business all about?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs

The Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, are blessed with the only other Triple-A fan blog I know of, Noise Nation, so they must be something special. Plus they get pretty decent coverage from their local newspaper, the Allentown (PA) Morning Call.

As might be expected, given their proximity to Philadelphia, coverage is very Phillies-centric. That's different from what we denizens of the DBAP experience. It’s pretty hard to find a Rays fan at the park. In fact, one of my most frequent questions at a game is who the Bulls are affiliated with. We’re a narrow-minded lot who tolerate the Rays only as long as they give us a decent team to watch.

The North Division of the International League is very competitive this year. At the moment, the IronPigs are tied for third place but are only 2½ games out of first and only 1 game ahead of fourth place. Standings.

The Bulls’ J.P. Arencibia started the season with the IronPigs, so we can expect possibly an even higher level of chatter between him and his former teammates.

The matchup is mostly in favor of the ’Pigs. They are near the top of the league in hitting, much better than the league-worst Bulls. The Bulls have a slight edge in pitching. This is going to be a challenging set.

Short and Sweet

Game 62, June 9, DBAP
Norfolk Tides: 2
Durham Bulls: 3
Season: 28–34; Home Stand: 1–1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Marks 61; Season Avg 48
Tm OPS: Game .600; Season .650
Tm wOBA: Game .238; Season .294

To give credit where credit is due, pulling Justin Marks at the end of 6 innings was the right call. Marks had pitched his best game as a Durham Bull through 6 innings, 86 pitches, 8 K’s. He survived a shaky 4th and came back with two solid innings. His game score of 61 was also his best of the year. Time to rest on his laurels.

He was followed by Eddie Gamboa’s terrific 2 innings and Steve Geltz’s heart palpitating 9th when he closed out the game with a K of pinch-hitting Mike Yastrzemski with runners on 1st and 3rd.

Rehabbing Logan Forsythe’s home run was all the Bulls could do at bat until the 7th. In fact they came into the 7th with just two hits of any kind. Then Jaff Decker got a single and Jake Goebbert’s home run brought in the winning run.

Nice crowd of 10,000+ watched the shortest game of the year, 2:01.

Outside the game —
  • Got to figure that Logan Forsythe will be heading for St. Petersburg, which raises the question of who will be kicked off the Ray’s bus. Very likely to be one of these guys: Tim Beckham, Taylor Motter, or Nick Franklin. The stats don’t tell you much of anything (none of them is hitting well), so you have to think that Tampa Bay will be looking at an assessment of team defensive needs and who is most dependable off the bench as a platoon player.
  • The Bulls leave town until June 20th. First chance for the turf to “rest” in a long while.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

LOOGY? Phooey!

Game 61, June 8, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina
Norfolk Tides: 6
Durham Bulls: 2
Season: 27–34; Home Stand: 0–1
Wrap, Box

Game Score: Wilk 75; Season Avg 53
Tm OPS: Game .615; Season .651
Tm wOBA: Game .302; Season .295

I am not a big fan of the whole concept of a LOOGY — Left-handed One Out GuY. The idea is to match up a lefty reliever against a left-handed batter for an out. Apparently, someone down in St. Petersburg likes the idea, unless last night’s action was dreamed up in the Bulls dugout by Sandberg and Snyder.

Adam Kolarek appears to be the Bulls’ designated LOOGY. He was brought in at the top of the 9th inning when the Bulls had a 2–1 lead and a left handed Norfolk Tides batter was coming up. Kolarek had been warming up alongside newly-christened Bulls closer Dylan Floro. The broadcasters Kinas and Poser were confidently and enthusiastically predicting the LOOGY approach.

Did not work out very well. Kolarek brushed Mike Yastrzemski’s jersey with his 4th pitch and the hit-by-pitch put Yastrzemski on first base. Having been out to do his LOOGY thing, and failed, Kolarek was replaced by Dylan Floro. Five runs later, the brilliant start of Adam Wilk and Richie Shaffer’s two run homer were in the dustbin.

This was the sixth time that Kolarek has had a less than one-inning appearance. In five of those six appearance he threw a grand total of 27 pitches (in the sixth he threw 21 and gave up 2 earned runs). The Bulls lost three of those games and won three. For what it's worth, I don't think it helps a Triple A team to have a LOOGY-in-training. And is the whole idea a good one in the first place? Not sure. What we know is that prior to last night Dylan Floro had come into save opportunities at the beginning of the last inning 4 times and he had saved those four games. This time a LOOGY led off and disaster followed.

Nevertheless, let’s not let Adam Wilk’s brilliant outing go unnoticed. By far his best of the year. A game score of 75, 10 K’s, no walks, a solo home run his only blemish. And let’s note the first home run in a while by Richie Shaffer, a clean shot over the Monster.

Note rehabbing Tampa Bay second baseman Logan Forsyth is with the team. He was 1 for 2 last night with a BB.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Streak Ends; Bulls Back Home

Game 60, June 7, Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia
Durham Bulls: 3
Norfolk Tides: 7
Season: 27–33; Trip: 1–1
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

Game Score: Pruitt 31; Season Avg 56
Tm OPS: Game .583; Season .652
Tm wOBA: Game .246; Season .295

Well, it couldn’t last — the winning streak, I mean. Sure was nice, though. Yesterday, however, nothing went well for the Bulls. Austin Pruitt was coming off a terrific start, but found himself in a six run hole before the 2nd inning was over. Even when the Bulls hitters seemed to get a handle on rehabbing Oriole Yovari Gallardo, especially Jake Goebbert’s 2-run homer, it was too late.

Outside the game —
  • Here’s some more details about Jamie Schultz's near-perfect game.
  • Here’s a bit of trivia that I’d not heard before. When major league pitchers are rehabbing in the minors, they are provided major league baseballs to throw. Is that so? Maybe a reader will fill me in. What would be the difference, I wonder?
  • Yesterday was not a good day for this year’s Bulls in the big leagues. Box. Taylor Motter started at 3B and went 0 for 4; Mikie Mahtook started in right field and was 0 for 3; Nick Franklin pinch hit and flied out. However, Ryan Garton did come on to pitch with one out in the 8th and had 2 K’s to finish the inning.
Bulls Pitching

This is a pretty picture. The team ERA (3.46) is now below the International League ERA (3.59). The big improvement is the relief crew. Over the last 15 games their combined ERA has dropped from 4.31 to 3.75.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Six in a Row!

Game 59, June 6, Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia
Durham Bulls (Rays): 6 
Norfolk Tides (Orioles): 0 
Season: 27–32; Trip: 1–0
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

Game Score: Schultz 85; Season Avg 59
Tm OPS: Game .631; Season .653
Tm wOBA: Game .284; Season .288

Jamie Schultz pitched a near-perfect game through the 7th. He only allowed one hit after 20 batters failed to even reach first base. On 91 pitches, 10 K’s, no BB, 1 hit. Amazing game for him. And continues the Bulls string out to 6 in a row.

About that one hit: Schultz was quoted in the Virginian-Pilot as shaking off catcher Luke Maile’s call for a fastball. He wanted a curve. And that was the pitch that was hit.

Schultz got superb support from the crew including RBI single from new guy Jake Hager in his first Triple A at bat; another RBI from another new guy, Johnny Field; and a three-run home run by Daniel Robertson. Not mention that Eddie Gamboa went two full innings in his second outing back from the DL.

Outside the game —
  • Blake Snell was named the International League Pitcher of the Week.
  • As mentioned, infielder Jake Hager was called up from Montgomery. If you take a look at his stats you’ll see he’s missing a year, 2015. He was out recovering from knee surgery. Mayo Acosta went off the roster to make room.
  • Former Bull, Andy Oliver, has been pitching for the Norfolk Tides. He’s got an opt-out contract and has just pulled the string on it, according to the Virginian-Pilot link above.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Norfolk Tides

The Bulls are 3-3 against the Tides so far this season. The Tides  hold, by far, the worst record in the International league. However, by the numbers there isn't that much of a spread between them and the Bulls. This last week the Bulls have been terrific and moved their team ERA up a bit. Here's hoping they hang on.

Five in a Row!

Game 58, June 5, DBAP
Gwinnett Braves: 0
Durham Bulls: 9

Season: 26–32; Home Stand: 6–1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Snell 68; Season Avg 56
Tm OPS: Game .813; Season .653
Tm wOBA: Game .363; Season: .296

The Gwinnett Braves pitching crew were more than generous again, giving up 8 walks. And the Bulls took advantage of it early. Half of the runners who scored in the first 4 innings got on base with a walk. A double by Kyle Roller, home runs by Johnny Field (off the Bull) and Dayron Varona drove them in, as did a single by Varona.

A big day for Bulls hitters and pitchers led to the biggest run differential of the year, the team’s 4th shutout, the longest winning streak, the first four-game sweep in years, and the best home stand this year.

Blake Snell had an impressive 6 inning, 104 pitch game. A bit shaky in the first inning, when he was victimized by a bad call by the 3rd base ump on a pickoff and run down. The runner went out of the baseline, but ump didn’t see it that way. After a batter or so, Snell was in command the rest of the way.

Juniel Querecuto started the game at second base. The first time he’s done that as a Bull. He was taking the place of Nick Franklin, who finally got his call to the Rays. Querecuto has plenty of experience at the position in lower level minors (where he has mostly been played at shortstop).

Cameron Seitzer came back from “extended Spring Training” to play first base and to fill the hole left by Nick Franklin’s departure.

On the Bench: J.P. Arencibia, Mayo Acosta, Jaff Decker

Outside the game —
  • “Dr. Miraculous” runs the numbers of some of the current Montgomery Biscuits (and future Bulls?).

The Bulls run against the Braves has pushed the Bulls up into second place in the South. They are off to Norfolk for two games and back to Durham for two games before heading North for six games and then, oddly enough, back to Norfolk for three games.

click on chart for larger size

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Four in a Row!

Game 57, June 4, DBAP
Gwinnett Braves: 8
Durham Bulls: 9
10 innings
Season: 25–32; Home Stand: 5–1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
Game Score: Marks: Game 46; YTD Avg 46
Team OPS: Game .696; Season .650
Team wOBA: Game .376; Season .294

There’s a lot of ways to look at this game. I commend both the Bulls’ wrap and the Herald-Sun stories above. The Bulls did get a bunch of freebies, 11 walks and 3 hits by pitch. For WDBB, however, let’s look at the path that Mayo Acosta took in this game as he went from hero to goat to hero.

For those who don’t follow the Bulls closely, Mayo Acosta is primarily the #3 catcher who comes and goes from the active roster and rarely starts a game, only 9 this year. Last night was his first start since May 10th.

His first “hero” moment came in the 5th when he outlasted Gwinnett’s pitcher and managed a walk that pushed a run in from 3B, starting a three-run inning that put the Bulls ahead 8 to 3.

But then came his first “goat” moment in the 8th inning after Steve Geltz had come in with two outs and nobody on base. Although Geltz got a strikeout, the ball got past Acosta. The batter went to first. The next two batters got on base and a bases-loaded walk from Geltz let a run in and the Braves got to within two runs of the Bulls.

Acosta’s second “goat” moment came in the bottom of the 9th, after the Braves had tied the game in the top of the 9th. He came to bat with a runner on first and no outs, but could not get a bunt down.

But (trumpets please!) came Mayo Acosta’s big hero moment. He came in to pitch in the 10th inning and got three quick outs. The Bulls scored a run in the bottom of the 10th and Acosta got the win and all the appropriate hero accolades.

Outside the game—
  • The last time the Bulls won four games in a row was a streak that began in late August, 2015.
  • Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times sports writer has some suggestions for the Rays that could affect the Bulls: Send Desmond Jennings to Durham, call up Blake Snell, call up Daniel Robertson.  Worth a read.
  • Buffalo, Scranton/WB, and Rochester are in a three-way tie for first place in the North Division. Standings.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Three in a Row!

Game 56, June 3, DBAP
Gwinnett Braves: 4
Durham Bulls: 5
Season: 24–32; Home Stand: 4–1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
Game Score: Wilk–33; YTD Avg–51
OPS: Game .947; Season .644
wOBA: Game .422; Season .291

Lots of heros in this game. The first bunch would be be the grounds crew who spread and recovered the tarp twice in this game. That is simply very hard work. (A bit of honesty here: After the first tarp pull we left and were home watching the game on TV before the play resumed.)

Then the hitting crew came back after the first rain delay situation to pick up three runs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. And they kept chipping away in the 4th to get the go-ahead run.

But without Parker Markel’s three scoreless innings things would have been very different. And not just last night. As it is, the next couple of games are going to reflect the problem of using a bunch of pitchers. Every extra inning Markel worked should help.

Nice to see Eddie Gamboa off the DL. He pitched just one inning last night, but it was a clean one.

Three in a row is a big deal for the 2016 Durham Bulls. It has not happened since the third, fourth, and fifth games of the year.

Stats Definitions:
Game Score
Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA)
On-Base Percentage plus Slugging (OPS)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Two in a Row!

Game 55, June 2, DBAP
Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta): 0
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 3
Season: 23–32; Home Stand: 3–1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Pruit–78, YTD Avg–58;
Tm OPS: .767;
Tm wOBA: .287

Jaff Decker’s two solo home runs provided the thrills and Austin Pruitt provided the strong right arm for a very good game.

The game also marked just the third time that the Bulls have won two games in a row this year, the last was May 7 & 8 (those two extra-inning marathons against Norfolk). Plus it was just the third shutout for Bulls this year.

Austin Pruitt has emerged as the Bulls most successful pitcher this season. His two starts with Game Scores of 78 are the best by any Bulls pitcher so far.  Over his 11 starts he has a team bests for starters of a WHIP of 1.01, an ERA of 2.48, and FIP of 3.05. For what it’s worth, he’s also the Bulls most “efficient” starting pitcher, using up only 4.73 pitches per out. Oh, he’s picked up 4 wins against 3 losses over the year as well.

Outside the game —
  • The Bulls team ERA dropped down to 3.50, exactly the International League average.
I'm obviously a big fan of the Game Score stat. It seems to me to be a straightforward way to look at starting pitchers. Here's how the Bulls crew looks for the year. A Game Score of 50 can be considered to be about the same as a "quality start" in the lingo of broadcasters. Blake Snell is on the 40 man roster and, of course, Matt Andriese isn't with the team any more. These are pretty good numbers.

Just for grins, or groans as the case may be, here are the average game scores of this year's Tampa Bay Rays crew. Matt Andriese shows up on this list as well. Matt Moore's and Chris Archer's troubles are pretty obvious.