Friday, April 28, 2017

Durham Bulls Sweep Chiefs; Bisons in Town; Charts!

Syracuse came to Durham on a six-game winning streak. They left town on a three-game losing streak. Last night the Bulls' bats simply got very, very hot — especially Patrick Leonard who is now at .413 on the season!

Disturbingly, the Bulls pitching roster is short two starters and one of the fill-ins, newcomer Edwin Fierro left the game with an injury last night.

Time for some charts. All can be expanded by clicking on the image.

The Bulls lead the IL South and have the best won-loss record in the league.

Pitching is better than the league average, with the relief crew doing a simply superb job.

As are the hitters, with last night's game being their best effort of the year.

Tonight the Bisons are in town. The Blue Jays' Triple-A team leads the International League North and is arriving after splitting a series with Norfolk (and putting up with much of the same weather we've seen this last week).

Familiar faces on the Bisons include pitcher Jeff Beliveau from 2013 and 2014, catcher Luke Maile who was with the Bulls for much of 2015 and 2016; and infielder Jake Elmore, who had 57 games with the Bulls (and 51 with the Rays) in 2015.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Two for Three in Louisville ... Rain!

DBAP, 25 April, 11:15 am
The weather does not look good at the moment, but they are obviously going to try. The Bulls probably did not get a lot of quality time on the golf course yesterday (or this morning). Check out our Coping With Rain link to see our thoughts on dealing with rainy days.

Not that the weather was all that good for the road trip. A rain suspension last week led to a double-header on Saturday. Then there was the 13-inning marathon on Sunday that was lost after the Bulls ran out of pitchers (scheduled starter Chin-We Hu was called up and it was a game of relief pitchers). Veteran catcher Michael McKenry was drafted to pitch the 13th inning (apparently for the first time in his 11 years as a pro). Things didn't go well and the Bulls lost.

More to the point, why was he out there in the first place? Well let's go over the key transactions.
  • Starting pitcher Chi-We Hu was called up to Tampa Bay on Saturday. He made his first major league appearance on Sunday, putting in one inning in relief in a rainy loss to Baltimore.
  • Reliever Ryan Garton was also called up to Tampa Bay and he's made two appearances in relief so far on Friday and Saturday.
  • RHP Kyle Winkler was called up from the Montgomery Biscuits and put in 2 innings in Sunday's marathon in Louisville. Winkler has two one-game stints with the Bulls in previous years: 3 innings in 3 games in 2015 and 1 1/3 innings in 1 game last year. 
  • RHP Edwin Fierro also came up from Montgomery to make his AAA debut. He pitched 3 innings in the Sunday Marathon and began his AAA career with a blown save.
The Washington Nationals Triple-A team, the Syracuse Chiefs are in town for a three-game series. They've won their last 6 games in a row, against Norfolk (3 games), Toledo (2 games), and Rochester (1 game). On the Chiefs roster is outfielder Joey Butler, a guy we really liked watching play back in 2015. He's currently on the disabled list, so not sure we'll see him this time.

Statistically, the two teams match up pretty well.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bulls Win Series, Trek to Louisville

The Bulls had two day games in Indianapolis before heading down I-65 to Louisville to play the Bats, Cincinnati's Triple-A team. A few comments about their stay in Indy.
  • They won two out of three to remain tied with Gwinnett for first place in the South. 
  • They had trouble establishing/holding a lead, but came from behind for both of their wins. 
  • Lefty Ryan Yarbrough's third start yesterday was the charm. He allowed only one run over 7 innings yesterday.
  • New guy RHP Brent Honeywell got roughed up in his Triple-A debut in Wednesday's game.
  • New guys Granden Goetzman and Cade Gotta looked just fine. 
Over the years the Bulls/Bats games have been terrific contests. The Bat's numbers are a close match to the Bulls (they lead in two out of three categories), with the exception of their won-loss record.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sweep, Swept

The Bulls are getting a day off, then leave town for three games in Indianapolis and then three games in Louisville. Indianapolis is off to a slow start.

This was a frustrating home series with the Bulls first taking four games from Charlotte and rising to a solid grasp on first place in the South Division at 6 games above .500. Then they lost three in a row to Gwinnett and fell into a tie with Gwinnett at 3 games above .500.

Adding to the frustration was how the Bulls lost to the Braves: by giving up big innings in the first two games and then taking a tie game into the top of the 9th and one out, and not being able to hang on.

When it comes to stability this year, things are not looking good, 11 games, 10 transactions.
  • RHP Jamie Schultz went on the disabled list almost right away. To fill his spot RHP Jeff Ames was called up from "extended spring training" (not sure what that means). Ames has already made three relief appearances and has only given up one run.
  • Outfielder Johnny Field was hurt and went on the disabled list, but he's been hanging out in the dugout, so we can hope that he will be back soon. Cade Gotta came up from the Montgomery Biscuits and is 3 for 12 with 3 stolen bases so far. 
  • Somebody with the Rays got an ouchie, which led to OF Shane Peterson being put on the 40-man and being called up (good for him). He hit a home run in his first at bat as a Ray.
  • To replace Peterson, Granden Goetzman was called up from Montgomery. He's played in two games so far. 
  • Tampa Bay called up RHP Chase Whitley and then the next day RHP Taylor Guerrieri was put on the disabled list. 
  • Those transactions led to RHP Brent Honeywell being called up from Montgomery where the young (22 years) pitcher has had two starts this year. He has not yet pitched for Durham.
  • And, lastly, RHP Yoel Espinal was called up from the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Rays A+ team down in Florida. He pitched a terrific 2 1/3 innings last night. In fact, an argument could be made that he should have stayed in the game after the first out of the 9th. Certainly, he could not have done worse than what was done.
Outside the game —
  • The Herald-Sun and News & Observer have been doing an unusually good job on feature articles this year. In one, the current Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker recalled his time as a Durham Bulls manager when the Bulls were a Single-A Braves team. I was pleased to learn that even back then Bulls fans were obstreperous and noisy. Back in 1983 fans put together a petition and sent it to Braves management, to have Snitker replaced (this was pre-internet, so they had to have worked to get a petition together). Got me thinking ...
  • As fans may have noticed, Jared Sandberg is managing from the dugout this year and new coach (and former Bull) Craig Albernaz is coaching 3rd Base. Sandberg discusses that change in a feature article by the Herald-Sun's Steve Wiseman. Hard to tell this early in the season if it will make a difference.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Great Beginnings

This year's Durham Bulls are off to a very strong start. They took three of four down in Lawrenceville, Georgia against the Gwinnett Braves and just swept four games from the Charlotte Knights.

About the only early worry we have is the health of the team. Pitcher Jamie Schultz went on the disabled list after his first appearance and last night's starting pitcher, Taylor Guerrieri, left the game with two outs in the 3rd. Outfielder Johnny Field is looking great, but he went on the disabled list earlier in the week.

Today the Gwinnett Braves come to town after winning three out of four against the Norfolk Tides (who are off to an awful 1-7 start). Very early days, but the two teams match up pretty well.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Opening Day —2017

Today’s the day. The Bulls are back!

The Bulls won three of four games against the Gwinnett Braves. So they are off to a great start. They open up againt the Charlotte Knights, who won their first four games against the Norfolk Tides.

The team looks/sounds pretty good with pitching, power, and speed.

I went to the Duke game last week and did not notice any major changes to the park. The outfield grass looks a little better, but the Duke team is doing some damage. Not sure if it's a good idea to share the park with them — not that my opinion carries any weight at all.

Today’s game starts at 6:05. That means we’re going to be on the Durham Freeway during rush hour. Grumble, grumble, grumble. No telling how the parking situation will be this year. Downtown Durham gets more and more popular. My suggestion is come earlier than usual just in case.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

2017 Durham Bulls Roster is Announced

The team is set. See announcement and profiles here.

The Bulls are playing the Trinity College Blue Devils today.