Thursday, August 16, 2018

On to Pawtucket; Playoffs Coming

The Bulls did just fine up in Pennsylvania, taking 2 out of 3 against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. The important takeaway, for me, was that Chih-Wei Hu finally had a decent game. Seems like a very long time (it has been, since late June) that he's done well in a Bulls uniform. Here's hoping he can keep it up.

Meanwhile, time to think a bit about the playoffs. Here's how it works in the International League.

The West Division Champion hosts the South Division Champion to begin a  best of five series (after two games the site moves to opponent park). The North Division Champion hosts the Wild Card.

Winner of North v Wild Card hosts the winner of West v South for the start of a best of five Governors' Cup Championship.

So, it playoffs began today it would be the Durham Bulls at the Indianapolis Indians and the Columbus Clippers at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

But, notice how tight things are in the IL West (standings) and how tight they are in the Wild Card race. Could be some changes by the end of the month (or even tomorrow).



Matchup

The Pawtucket Red Sox are usually a much better team than we've seen this year. That seems especially true given the absolute dominance of their parent club in the American League. They've got the best pitching (measured by ERA) in the IL, but are still 15 games behind the IronPigs. What I don't know is how much turmoil they've undergone this year.



Monday, August 13, 2018

Off to the North

We had a couple of thrilling games in this home stand. A blowout of the Columbus Clippers on the 8th. Two games won by walk-off. But a couple of losses that were tough as well. Still, the Bulls left town remaining in first place in the IL South.

The Bulls are off to Lehigh Valley to face the team with the best won-loss record in the International League, the Phillies AAA franchise, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  And the only other team that has its very own blogger. Check it out.

Matchup



[Geek Alert!]

Here's the oddity. The Bulls and the IronPigs match up very closely in everything except won-loss records and run differentials. Now, if you run their run differentials through the Pythagorean Expectation formula it turns out that the Bulls "should" be 69-47, not 65-51. And the IronPigs "should be" 67-52, not 72-47. In that case, the Bulls would be the best team in the International League, not the IronPigs. Darn this pesky real world stuff!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Getting Ready for Columbus

The Bulls are back in town after an odd 2 win/2 loss trip to the West and South. They spent a lot of time watching the rain fall on Georgia. They are back with a 4 game lead over Norfolk and some significant changes on the roster (again).


They open tonight against the Columbus Clippers, the AAA franchise of the Cleveland Indians and traditionally a formidable team in the International League West. This year they are tied for second place in their division. For stats geeks they show off the anomalous negative run differential with winning record. Overall, it appears that pitching is their problem.


Former Bulls Brandon Guyer, Johnny Field, and Richie Shaffer have worn Clippers uniforms this year. Guyer is with the Indians. Shaffer is in the Milwaukee system. Johnny Field is playing for Rochester in the Twins system.

Still with the Clippers are pitchers Jeff Beliveau, a pitcher we liked back in 2014, and Mitch Talbot, who made our list of great Durham Bulls pitchers back in 2013 and was a key player in the Bulls' first AAA championship in 2009 (trivia — he won the first and last games of that season). Looks like after joining the Cleveland system in 2010, he's done some serious roaming around including time with Korean teams and independent baseball.

Roster Changes in the last two weeks:
  • 7/24 OF Justin Williams optioned to Durham from Tampa Bay
  • 7/24 LHP Hoby Milner optioned to Durham from Tampa Bay
  • 7/24 RHP Yonny Chirinos recalled by Tampa Bay
  • 7/24 RHP Chih-Wei Hu recalled by Tampa Bay
  • 7/25 RHP Austin Pruitt recalled by Tampa Bay
  • 7/25 LHP Adam Kolarek optioned to Durham from Tampa Bay
  • 7/27 RHP Andrew Kittredge recalled by Tampa Bay
  • 7/28 RHP Chih-Wei Hu optioned to Durham from Tampa Bay
  • 8/1 INF Michael Russell assigned to Durham from Double-A Montgomery
  • 8/1 OF Austin Meadows acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh and assigned to Durham
  • 8/1 INF Christian Arroyo placed on disabled list (retroactive to 7/30)
  • 8/1 OF Justin Williams traded to St. Louis for OF Tommy Pham
  • 8/1 RHP Jake Faria activated from disabled list by Tampa Bay
  • 8/3 LHP Adam Kolarek recalled by Tampa Bay
  • 8/4 INF Brandon Lowe had his contract selected by Tampa Bay
Of all of that list what jumps out for me is the departure of Justin Williams, whose strong right arm from right field was a wonder to watch and the call-up of Brandon Lowe for what may be a quick cup of coffee, but still a big deal for someone who had to have room made for him on the 40-man. Should Kean Wong have been the guy called up? Sure. But let's not take anything away from Mr. Lowe. And we've got a new guy in the outfield, Austin Meadows.