Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Durham Bulls in 2017 — Part 2 — The Pitchers

42 different ballplayers pitched for the Durham Bulls this year, up from 34 in 2016, and that was in the regular season. Add a couple more for the postseason run.

Of those 42, 3 were position players thrown to the wolves at the end of losing contests: catcher Michael McKenry (3 times for 2 innings and an ERA of 58.50), outfielder Johnny Field (1⅓ innings, ERA: 20.25), and infielder Kean Wong (⅓ inning, ERA: 0.00).

13 of those 42 had less than 10 innings and were a mixture of rehabbing TB pitchers (e.g., Brad Boxberger) and short-term promotions from AA Montgomery.

Here are a few charts to get us started, beginning with the number of innings pitched.

click on chart for larger image
Then here's a look at the ERAs (Earned Run Averages) and FIPs (Fielding Independent Percentages).

Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP)

And, lastly, a home-grown measure of "efficiency": Pitches per Out.

Note: we had a discussion like this last year and players mention then are marked with a ## that links to that blog post. For a complete roster check this link. List below is sorted by innings pitched. Players on 40-man marked with an asterisk *.  Inside the perens: handedness, appearances, innings, won-loss, holds (h), blown saves (bs), saves (s).

Ryan Yarbrough (left-handed, 26 appearances, 157.1 innings, 13-6) was the obvious star of the Durham Bulls starters: The most wins, the most starts, most innings, 3rd best ERA (after Chirinos and Snell). He had three starts in the post-season and the Bulls won all three games (although he only got credit for one win). He came to the Rays system out of the Seattle system. At just 25, he should have a big future with the Rays. He's not on the 40-man and has no major league time, so the Bulls might see him back next year. Stats.

Yonny Chirinos (R, 23, 141, 12-5) came up from Montgomery in early May and never looked back. At 23 years old he should also have a huge future with the Rays (and the Bulls). In 23 games he had the best ERA of the regular starting crew (see Blake Snell for the exception), the 2nd best "efficiency" rating, and the best WHIP among the starters (a superb 0.98). Plus, as with Yarbrough, he's not on the 40-man. So we could see him again next year. In the post-season he had a win in 2 starts and only gave up one run in 10 innings. Lastly, great fun to watch. Stats.

Brent Honeywell (R, 24, 123.2, 12-8) came up from Montgomery in mid-April, so essentially spent all 2017 with the Bulls. In his 24 starts his ERA was just slightly worse (3.64) than Yarbrough — certainly more than respectable. He's also young, just 24. His WHIP of 1.30 is above the team average. And he works pretty hard for his outs (5.56 P/O). However, in the case of a named "prospect" you're never sure if they start each game with an instruction to "work" on something, which in turn skews their stats a bit. Stats.

*Andrew Kittredge (R, 41, 68.1, 5-1, 8h, 2bs, 2s) put in a bunch of innings as a reliever in a bunch of games. In fact, he and Adam Kolarek were tied for 2nd place in that category. He carried a stunning ERA of just 1.45, a WHIP of .095, and was extremely efficient at 4.89 pitches per out. He has had 13 innings with the Rays this year (so far — he was called up for the third time in early September). He was a key figure in the superb Bulls bullpen. By the way, he started 2 games as part of the Bulls several "bullpen days". Stats.

Jeff Ames (R, 46, 63.1, 1-1, 4h, 2s) has numbers that, in my view, understate his importance to the Bulls this year. His ERA of 3.98 wasn't stellar, nor was his WHIP of 1.405. And he certainly wasn't very "efficient" at 6.03 pitches per out. On the other hand, he was always there, ready to put in an inning or two at just about any point in a game. He appeared in five post-season games and did not allow a run (and stranded 4 inherited baserunners). I'm not sure the Bulls would have made it to or through the championships without him. Stats.

*Chih-Wei Hu (R, 31, 60.2, 4-1, 4h, 1s) was yet another solid member of the relief team. He began the year as the Bulls' #2 starting pitcher (Jacob Faria was #1), but in mid-April, the Rays called him up and decided that he was to be a relief pitcher. And that was his role both at Tampa Bay and with the Bulls for the rest of the year. He endured a lot of back and forth. By my count, he was back and forth four times during the Bulls' season and he went back up after the Bulls finished their postseason. Very good overall performance: ERA: 3.06, WHIP: 1.15, P/O: 5.31. At a guess, he may firm up his role with the Rays this month and into the spring. He made three appearances in the postseason. The Bulls won two of those three games. Stats. ##

*Jake Faria (R, 11, 58.2, 6-1). Jake Faria (started the season as "Jacob") was the opening day starting pitcher for the Durham Bulls and went on to do a terrific job all of April and May. He was called up by Tampa Bay and went into their rotation until going on the disabled list in August. He was back as a reliever in mid-September. Unlikely to be back as a Durham Bull. Good luck. Stats. ##

*Hunter Wood (R, 19, 53.1, 2-1, 5h) did not join the Bulls until mid-June, coming up from Montgomery. He initially went into the starting rotation and did just fine. In late July, however, he was moved to the bullpen for 13 more appearances. Overall, the young (23 years old) seems to need more work. But he sure made a difference in his three short postseason stints (two wins). I've heard he has a high upside in the organization, and that makes sense. His ERA (4.39), FIP (4.57), and WHIP (1.39) are not particularly impressive, but it's a small sample size. He took an interesting path to the Bulls. He started the year in Montgomery, went up to Tampa Bay for his major league debut at the end of May. Went back to Montgomery for 3 games. Then came to the Bulls. Next year? Probably. Stats.

*Ryne Stanek (R, 36, 44.2, 3-0, 4h, 8s)  is an exciting ballplayer to watch, when he's in town. In addition to his 36 appearances with the Bulls, he made 19 with the Rays and was with them at the end of the season. Stanek has been groomed as a closer with his 100 mph fastball. A fellow Razorback (even though there's a 50-year difference in our attendance dates), he is eventually going to stick with the Rays (or another club). As a Bull his numbers were exceptional. ERA (1.21), FIP (1.59), and WHIP (0.90) the best on the team among those with any significant amount of innings. Stats. ##

Michael Roth (L, 10, 44.1, 2-4, 1h) came to the Bulls out of the Giants system and Sacremento in the Pacific Coast League. He did not have an auspicious beginning, losing his first three starts. Things were looking better in the next two, but after that, not much. To cap it off, he left the August 24th game with what was reported to be a broken finger and has not been heard from since. Pretty dismal stats: ERA: 5.08, FIP: 5.48, WHIP 1.38. At 27 this might have been his last chance, but then there were those two really good games, and he's left-handed. Stats.

*Blake Snell (L, 7, 44, 5-0) came back to Durham for a 7-game visit in May and June, did a terrific job, and went back to the Rays, where he has mostly struggled. Whatever is a problem for him when he wears a Rays uniform doesn't show up when he's in Bulls gear. He won 5 games (and the Bulls won in another start). His Game Score stat was above average in all but one of his starts. Solid ERA of 2.66. Slightly weak (for a major leaguer) WHIP of 1.32. And he did give up 5 home runs. Nevertheless, he helped the Bulls a lot in a championship season. Stats. ## 

Neil Wagner (R, 32, 44, 0-1, 4h, 1bs, 3s) was doing a fine job for the Bulls this year up to the All-Star break. After that, it's hard to say what happened. At a guess, at 33 and the oldest pitcher on the team, he became the odd man out even though he seemed to have made a solid comeback from his surgery. He was subject to a bit of back and forth with Hudson Valley getting in just a partial inning on July 26 before his release. He was immediately signed by the Mets and assigned to their Las Vegas AAA franchise. As a Bull, he was an asset with decent stats over his 44 innings (ERA-3.07, WHIP-1.16. As a Las Vegas 51er, he was superb: 8 games, 10 innings, ERA of 0.00, WHIP of 0.77. So looks like he landed on his feet. Stats. ##

Adam Kolarek (L, 41, 43.2, 3-4, 11h, 4bs, 3s) is a puzzle to me. He came out of the Mets system and was the rare lefty in last year's bullpen. He got his call-up to the Rays in late June, stayed for July, spent August with the Bulls, and made a brief visit back with the Rays in September. As a Bull, he was a real asset. His odd semi-sidearm delivery seemed to be hard to handle (no home runs). He came into the game in difficult situations. He inherited 17 runners, the most of any Bulls reliever. Only six of those runners scored. Terrific ERA (1.65). Decent WHIP (1.15). After his return from Tampa Bay, it sure seemed like they were looking at him to be a LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY) and that seemed to be his role in the playoffs where he had 4 appearances and did a fine job. He was not on the 40-man at the end of the year, so hard to tell the future of this 28 year-old. Stats. ##

Diego Castillo (R, 30, 42.2, 3-2, 5h, 1bs, 7s) made a tremendous difference from the day he arrived up from Montgomery the beginning of June. Even after his numbers got hammered after a disastrous game on the 6th of July (6 runs without an out that blew up his ERA to 5.29), he stayed the course and ended the year with a decent ERA of 3.38, an even better FIP of 2.22, a WHIP of 1.15, and a very efficient P/O of 4.98. The best parts of his performance were the 7 saves, 6 of them coming after the all-star break. And then there was his work in the playoffs — 5 appearances and 3 saves — just brilliant. Plus there's a good chance the 23 year-old will be back with Durham next year. Stats.

*Ryan Garton (R, 24, 33, 2-0, 3h, 4s) grew up in the Rays system and did a decent job this year, but got traded off to the Seattle Mariners. He was up and back to the Rays a couple of times and spent some time on the DL. But his numbers as a Bull were superb, an ERA of 1.64 and a WHIP of  0.94. He was part of a trade that included catcher Mike Marjama, yet another example of the Rays being unable/unwilling to develop young catchers. In return, the Rays got a pitcher, Anthony Misiewicz and an infielder Luis Rengifo. Misiewicz had 5 starts in Montgomery, Rengifo played in 23 games for the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Garton has had 10 appearances with the Mariners. Marjama had a short call-up to the Mariners and played 21 games with their AAA franchise in Tacoma. Stats. ##

*Austin Pruitt (R, 9, 24.2, 0-0, 2h, 1s) put in two rehab-ish stints with the Bulls and was helpful while here. Nice to see Pruitt in the majors. Stats. ##

Yoel Espinal (R, 12, 22.2, 2-1, 1h) had a very odd year. He started with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, jumped to Durham, then to Montgomery, then back to Durham and back to Montgomery, then down to the Gulf Coast Rays, and finally back where he started with the Stone Crabs (A+). At a guess, some potential. Stats.

*Chaz Roe (R, 17, 22, 0-4, 5h, 2bs, 4s) came over from the Atlanta system in mid-July. He did OK, but took 4 losses and had two blown saves. He was called up in September and has made 6 appearances in short relief with the Rays. Stats.

Players with limited innings:
  • *José Alvarado (L, 16, 18.1, 0-2, 2h, 1bs, 1s) came down from Tampa Bay near the end of the season, then went back. 
  • Diego Moreno (R, 11, 16.1, 0-0, 1h, 5s) started the season with the Bulls, went to Tampa Bay in May. Never came back. He first went on the 60-day disabled list, then was claimed off waivers by Cleveland and ended up with the Columbus Clippers.
  • Burch Smith (R, 3, 16.1, 2-1) was a late August addition to the Bulls roster and was very helpful filling in a starting role at the end of the season. Just three starts then, but two more in the post-season. Decent stats on a very small sample. 
  • Justin Marks (L, 9, 15, 4-1, 2h) got called up by Tampa Bay in May after a decent beginning with the Bulls. But when the Rays went to send him back he got claimed by the Dodgers and spent most of the year in Oklahoma City with their AAA franchise there. 
  • Mike Broadway (R, 6, 15, 1-2) came up from Montgomery at the end of the season and also appeared in 3 postseason games. He has 12 years in professional baseball, coming back from Japan for the 2017 season. He started in the Nationals system and then came over to the Biscuits in late June. 
  • *José De León (R, 3, 12, 0-2) basically spent 2017 on the disabled list.
  • *Jamie Shultz (R, 13, 11.2, 1-0, 4h, 1bs) was a WDBB favorite in 2016 as a starter. After just one inning in his first appearance, he went on the disabled list and did not come back to the Bulls until the end of July, as a reliever. He did OK, and also had two 1-out sessions during the playoffs. 
  • Five pitchers lent a hand either just before or during the playoffs. Jonny Venters, Chris Pike, Brandon Lawson, Nathan Eovaldi, and Xavier Cedeno.
  • Kyle Winkler, Taylor Guerrieri, Hunter Adkins, Chase Whitley, Edwin Franco, Brad Boxberger, Danny Farquhar, Chris Pike, and Drew Smith all had a few innings during the year.


  1. I have to say I'm disappointed Taylor Guerrieri got injured early. He's as much an "up and comer" as Honeywell and Faria if not more so. Hopefully next year.

    But in total, you see why the Rays are likely to dump Cobb, Odorizzi and possibly Archer next year. There's a lot of starting talent behind them.

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