Monday, June 25, 2018

Good Trip; Coming Home

The Bulls had another good road trip, winning four of six games against the Louisville Bats and the Indianapolis Indians. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the breakout hitting of young Brandon Lowe. His OPS soared from a pretty dismal .448 to a very solid .929 and included 5 home runs and 9 RBI. His batting average went from .196 to .263 over the six games.

Ji-Man Choi also had a good trip, but left the game yesterday after getting hit in the face by an elbow as a runner passed by. His OPS is a stunning 1.056 over his first 10 games with the Bulls.

Overall, the Bulls seemed to have survived the departure of Willy Adames and Jake Bauers. Now if they could just win some games at home.

Outside the Game

Jake Bauers had a game-winning, 12th inning home run yesterday to beat the Yankees and complete a three-game sweep of the Yankees at home ... and they even had some fans watching the game!


The Charlotte Knights were just here and they are back. They are not having a good year, which doesn't mean they don't do well against the Bulls. Just last week they were also in town and swept the Bulls.

Those 2018 Uniforms

OK, is it time to talk about the uniforms? Just for the record, I don't like them. First, I like nameplates on jerseys. What happens if I don't have a program? Or it's a new player? Second, I'm no fan of the new Bull City logo. I get it, Durham paid millions for the stadium upgrade, they get to call some shots. But it's ugly.

Friday, June 22, 2018


Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay) 13; Louisville Bats (Cincinnati) 3
Wrap, Box

Last night's performance by Bulls hitters was simply stunning. Seven out of nine hitters improved their OPS, some by substantial margins, in just one game. One, Ji-Man Choi, albeit from a very small sample so far, jumped up 300 points with 2 home runs! Lowe and Hazelbaker had good nights.

Ji-Man Choi*†
Nick Ciuffo*
Jeremy Hazelbaker*†
Brandon Lowe*
Michael Russell
Brandon Snyder
Andrew Velazquez#
Justin Williams*†
Kean Wong*
*=Left-handed bat; †=on 40-man

The Bulls head up the road to second-place Indianapolis where they face a team that is a very close match to the Bulls in most categories. The Indians are a formidable hitting team, a decent ERA, but their team WHIP is not good at all. That may help explain their similar won-loss record, but much lower run differential. Should be a good series.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Another Dismal Home Stand

Well, this home stand was a disaster. The Bulls lost 5 out of six, with a run differential of -10 over the six games. And of the total of 21 runs given up, 7 were unearned (see chart below). About the only nice thing that could be said of the week was that it was great to see Kevin Kiermaier in a Bulls uniform. On the other hand, it was painful to see the difference between a major leaguer and what we saw on the mound, at bat, and on the  field.

Why? Well, part of it stems from the four hitters who are below .600 OPS: Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi, Jeremy Hazelbaker, and Micah Johnson (although Johnson just went on the disabled list). Of those, three are below the Mendoza Line (batting average of less than .200). Only one hitter  on the Bulls is over .800 OPS, Kean Wong.

Pitching isn't all that bad. The team ERA and other metrics are among the best in the IL. But the fielding has been awful.

Nevertheless, even though they can't seem to win at home, the Bulls remain, just barely, in the IL South lead as they head off to Louisville and Indianapolis.

The Bulls are a half game ahead of Norfolk.

This is just plain ugly. Bulls mistakes have cost them 41 runs on the year.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Bulls Dis Durham

What's wrong with this picture? The last homestand the Durham Bulls lost 4 and won 2 against lightweight competition. Then they went on the road, also against sub-.500 teams, and won 5 and just lost 1. Now they are back home and have dropped the first three games to the worst teams in the South Division.

Not to oversimplify, but there's a good chance that it has something to do with lineups like last night's. Two batters were below the Mendoza Line (.200): Hazelbaker and Lowe. As much as aggressive baserunning is fun to watch, watching a pickoff and caught stealing (Lowe) was tough. New guy Ji-Man Choi is probably going to turn out OK, but he's had several opportunities to knock runners in and he hasn't in these early days.

Of course, missing Adames and Bauer, as well as Anthony Banda for the season, makes a difference. And it's just June. But it's also coming up on mid-season and playing at home should be more fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Bulls Back, Bauers and Adames Are Not

The Bulls are back after taking 5 of 6 on an exceptionally productive road trip to Pennsylvania and New York to play the Phillies and Twins franchises. I have to note that it seems only fair that after the Rochester Red Wings swept the Bulls at their home at the end of May, that the Bulls went up to the Red Wings’ home and swept them.

The biggest problem with the Bulls being back is that they are back without two key players, Willy Adames and Jake Bauers. Adames got called up yesterday and Bauer has been up there for a couple of days where he has been the starting first baseman and doing very, very well. See reports in the Tampa Bay Times. We here at WDBB also wish them well.

Other news is that outfielder extraordinaire and former Durham Bull Keven Kiermaier may be coming through on a rehab stint this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Rays have acquired first baseman Ji-Man Choi in a trade with the Brewers and sent him to the Bulls. Choi is carrying a stunning .924 OPS in 40 games with Milwaukee's AAA franchise, the Colorado Sky Sox and has had 12 games with the Brewers this year where he hit .781 including a recent grand slam.

Hard as it is to believe, but the Bulls are only 9 games away from mid-season! And only 35 more home games.

Oh yeah, they are in still in first place, 3 games ahead of Norfolk and 9½ games ahead of Charlotte.


The White Sox franchise, the Charlotte Knights are having a surprisingly poor year at the plate, particularly given their hitter-friendly ballpark. Former Bulls Casey Gillaspie (OPS .627) and Patrick Leonard (OPS .664) are not having strong years. Too bad. Now, of course, it not the time to get their games back.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Bulls Hit the Road; and More...

Not the best of home stands. Four losses and two wins. And then comes the news that Anthony Banda is out until 2020 as he goes through Tommy John surgery and rehab. We wish only the best for Mr. Banda. We really liked watching him pitch this year.

Nevertheless, the Bulls stayed in first place, a full game ahead of Norfolk. Standings.

The team is off to Pennsylvania for their first trip to the North Division. Three games against the Yankees franchise, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, then three games against the Minnesota team, the Rochester Red Wings who just swept the Bulls here at home.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders do not play in either Scranton or Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a bit of trivia that's always fun to share. Their actual zip code is Moosic. They are just off of a 6-day trip to the West Division where they split with Louisville and Indianapolis. At the moment they are in last place in their usually very competitive division.


The Bulls lead the RailRiders in all categories except defense.

We note that Curt Casali hit a home run in his first game as a Cincinnati Red. We also noted that in that game he caught reliever Dylan Floro who appeared in 32 games as a Bull in 2016 (and 22 in 2015) and now is pitching for the Reds.

Meanwhile (drumroll please), the Stetson Hatters are in the NCAA Super Regionals and will be playing UNC. The Hatters are on an impressive 18-game winning streak. Here's hoping they keep it up! Have I ever mentioned that I am a Stetson alumni and a huge fan of Doc Johnson's leadership of the Hatters team back in the 60's?