Saturday, August 17, 2019

Durham Bulls — 16 Games Left

August 16 Results

Durham Bulls 3; Buffalo Bisons 7

Columbus Clippers 5; Charlotte Knights 4

Scranton/WB RailRiders 2; Gwinnett Stripers 5




Gwinnett increased its lead over Bulls and Knights: Standings

Today: Durham @ Buffalo

Friday, August 16, 2019

Durham Bulls — 17 Games Left

August 15 Results

Durham Bulls 3; Syracuse Mets 5 Box

Columbus Clippers 5; Gwinnett Stripers 2 (7 innings)
Columbus Clippers 5; Gwinnett Stripers 3 (7 innings)
Scranton/WB RailRiders 5; Charlotte Knights 7



Bulls just hanging out, waiting for Knights to catch up.

Today: Durham @ Buffalo

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Durham Bulls End of Season: August 15, 2019

The Bulls lost to the Syracuse Mets. The Charlotte Knights won. The Gwinnett Strippers will play a double header today.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

End of Season Run: August 13, 2019

Going to start tracking this on a regular basis. See http://www.watchingdurhambullsbaseball.com/2019/08/one-team-will-not-go-to-playoffs.html



1½ game spread. This morning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tampa Bay Rays/Durham Bulls and the Failure (Unwillingness?) to Make Memories

A guest post by WDBB friend Chris D ... I completely agree ...

Last week I got to watch the Durham Bulls throw a combined no-hitter. It was their 6th no-hitter in AAA history and no matter what happens from here this season or next, I'll be able to say I was there when it happened. Whatever the win/loss total or playoff results, I have a fun memory from the season.

Fast forward to last night when the Rays were having a fantastic outing from Ryan Yarborough versus the Mariners. As it was an away game, the best the Rays fans could do was watch or listen. As the inning went on and it became apparent that Yarborough might be able to do something a Rays' pitcher hadn't done since 2016, throw a complete game, and a shutout at that. It wasn't a no-hitter, but the sudden excitement of counting down outs was on. When he came out to start the 9th with less than 100 pitches thrown, it looked like it was going to happen.

And then, with 2 outs in the 9th and no one on base, and still not having thrown 100 pitches, the Rays lifted Yarborough for Pagan. He got the final out and the Rays won the game. Looking at some stat sites, the Rays' playoff chances (and let's be realistic it's a wild card chance) moved up from 70% to 72%. The analytical team used analytics to make "the best move". But the fans were left feeling empty.

Shortly after that game ended, I was listening to Patrick Kinas retell the story about when Mike Montgomery was bringing a no-hitter into the 9th inning of a Bulls start back in 2014. Apparently, he ignored his manager, who intended to replace him, and ran back on to the field in the 9th. He got the 1st out and then was promptly removed from the game. Brad Boxberger finished the no-hitter off, but the fans were again left wanting. Kinas continued the story, telling us how this was the "beginning of the end of Montgomery's career in the Rays' system."

As a fan, I just want to put it out there that while I understand winning is the ultimate goal, sometimes the obsession with doing everything the numbers tell you to do, no matter of circumstance, really robs the fun from the game. If the Rays miss the playoffs by 1 game this year instead of 2 or if they lose the 1-game wildcard playoff, I'll have forgotten that in 5 years. If they let Yarborough throw a rare CGS or Montgomery throw a single pitcher no-hitter, I'd remember those for much longer. Maybe it'd pay for management to remember that there are things other than winning that bring fans to the ballpark.

   Chris D

Monday, August 12, 2019

One Team Will Not Go to the Playoffs

Durham – Charlotte – Gwinnett

The Durham Bulls play 20 more games and then the regular season is over. Fourteen of those games are against the Gwinnett Strippers (7, all at the DBAP) and the Charlotte Knights (4 home, 3 away). After today, the Bulls have only one more off day (Aug 29).

Here's how they stand in the International League South. Charlotte has made one heck of a run in recent days, Gwinnett and the Bulls have been pretty static since a run by Gwinnett took them out of first place a couple of weeks ago. A lot can happen over the next three weeks, but it's safe to say that one of these teams is going to win the IL South and go to the playoffs. The South Division winner plays the winner of the West Division. The Wild Card winner plays the winner of the North Division.




The Wild Card, at the moment, is dominated by Charlotte and Durham.



How could this play out?

Obviously, any one of these three teams could make a run. All of them have had big runs this year — the Bulls have had a couple of them.

The big variable affecting each team is how their parent club will be approaching the end of their season.

The Braves (Gwinnett) have a decent lead in the NL East, but you can bet they will do anything to maintain it. Ten players on the Knight's current roster are on the Atlanta 40-man (9 pitchers, 1 catcher).

The White Sox are 12 games below .500 in the AL Central and are well back of the Indians and Twins. The Knights have 9 players on the White Sox 40-man (4 pitchers, 2 catchers (!), and 3 other position players).

The Rays are in an intense fight for an American League Wild Card spot that has a long way to go. The Bulls only have 7 players on the Tampa Bay 40-man, including a couple on rehab/IL (5 pitchers, 1 catcher, 2 position players). However, the Rays are famous for their manipulation of the 40-man. In the short term, after the chaos of the last couple of weeks, things could be quiet. But as we get near the end of the month and September call-up time approaches, expect the Rays to fiddle with the 40-man list (Anthony Banda being a poster child for that situation). The Rays have 8 players (5 pitchers) included on the 40-man in some kind of injured status. That adds to the potential for turmoil on the Bulls' roster as their status changes.

Wish I could say that anyone in the baseball world, other than Patrick Kinas, is keeping us up-to-date on this stuff. But the best we can do is tune in early prior to the game and listen to his update.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

No-Hitter!

Durham Bulls 2, Syracuse Mets 1
Box, Play-by-Play

An exciting game at the DBAP last night. Just looking at the box score does not really give you the flavor of the game. But at the top of the 9th all of us there (smallish crowd — 4,700 paid, maybe 3500 in the stands) knew what was going on pitch-by-pitch. With side-armer Toby Milner striking out the first batter, getting a pop-out to short [edited: thanks Chris], the Syracuse Mets sent in their moose, Travis Taijeron, to pinch-hit (he has 24 home runs this year, the Mets were only one run back). Milner struck him out. Fans cheer on.

But the entire game was much more of a contest that it seems in the stats. Syracuse's Corey Oswalt pitched a brilliant game. Just two pitches got away from him, to Kean Wong in the 1st inning and, a bit later in the 3rd, to Nate Lowe. The Bulls put a fair number of runners on base after that, but none of them scored.

Meanwhile, we saw one of the most unusual defensive alignments of the year. Catcher Mac James was at first, First  baseman Nate Lowe played third base. third Baseman Kevin Padlo played second base, and infielder Kean Wong was in left field. But it all worked out. No errors.

Exciting? Well, in the 5th inning Ricardo Pinto (who got the win) got the first out on a fly ball, then walked Trever Blanco. After getting a K, he then hit Ali Sanchez. Then he balked moving the runners to second and third. All was well, however, when he K'd Braxton Lee.

In the 8th inning, Pinto walked the first batter (Rymer Liriano) and hit the next batter (Ali Sanchez). A sacrifice bunt by Braxton Lee put runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out. A ground out to short (infield was not drawn in) scored a run. So we had a runner on third and two outs. Rehabbing José Alvarado was called in to pitch to Danny Espinoza. One pitch, grounder to short, inning over. No hits recorded.

In addition to no hits, this had to be one of the most efficient games in recent memory. Starter Arturo Reyes: 3 innings, 36 pitches; Ricardo Pinto: 4⅔ innings, 62 pitches;   José Alvarado: ⅓ inning, 1 pitch (!); Hoby Milner: 1 inning, 14 pitches. Overall pitches per out: 4.18. That's very efficient.

[Note: This is very weird: I seem to be unable to respond to comments on my own blog. Working on it. Chris W]

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Banda Better

Only fair to note that Anthony Banda, mentioned in a recent post, went 4 shutout innings last night, and improved his ERA from 8.68 to 6.08. And the Bulls won!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Ugly Road Trip; Will Turmoil Ever Stop?

We had some fairly negative things to say as the Durham Bulls hit the road last week. The situation has not improved. If anything, it may have gotten worse.

On the road, the Bulls had 4 losses and just two wins, plus a rainout that cannot be made up. All games were against the other three International League South teams. The Bulls left home 1½ games back, they returned home 2½ games back.

The reasons why are pretty obvious.

First would be the sheer turmoil. Remember, this is a team traveling around — to Gwinnett, to Charlotte, and to Norfolk. In the last six days the Bulls have had 17 roster changes. And there's reason to expect more before tomorrow's game.

Then there were some pretty ugly moments. Two starting pitchers didn't make it out of the 1st inning: Rehabbing Anthony Banda gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and two walks in the first ⅔ of the 1st inning against Gwinnett on July 30th (the Bulls lost 6–7) and new guy Peter Fairbanks gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks in ⅔ of the 1st inning against Norfolk on August 3rd (the Bulls lost 2–3).

Another newish pitcher, Sam McWilliams, he of a 7.46 ERA, made it through 6 innings, but he also gave up 5 (4 earned) runs on 8 hits and 4 walks. The Bulls lost that game (August 2) as well.

To my surprise, we did not see much of an increase in unearned runs, and the Bulls' batting average didn't change much at all. New guy Kevin Padlo is having a terrific start as a Bull. The Bulls' hole in center field, made when Andrew Velazquez got pushed off the bus, has still not been filled.

By the way, Valazquez is playing with the division-leading Columbus Clippers along with Jake Bauers and Dioner Navarro.

About the only thing good to report is that the Bulls are leading in the wild card, but just by 3½ games over Charlotte.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Tough Home Stand; Off to Georgia

The Bulls are off to Gwinnett after getting shut out by Buffalo yesterday. Mr. McWilliams is having trouble adjusting to AAA. After a decent season in Montgomery (15 games, 87 innings, 2.05 ERA, 1.255 WHIP) he has not settled into his Bulls uniform (4 games, 19 innings, 7.91 ERA, 1.810 WHIP). Put another way, he's given up almost as many runs in 4 games as a Bull (17) as he did in 15 games as a Biscuit (20). Will he get better? Sure. But yesterday capped off a home stand where the Bulls lost 4 out of 6 games.

In Georgia, the Bulls are playing the newly-established-in-first-place Strippers. The Strippers have only been up there for the last 8 games or so. It would seem the Bulls would be able to claw back up on top. Our concern is that this isn't quite the same team that we've been watching all year. Their team ERA is creeping upwards; the team batting average is creeping downwards.

Matchup


Friday, July 26, 2019

What's Going on with the Bulls?

This five-game slide into second place in the IL South is ugly.



The proximate cause of the last two losses were pitchers — Austin Pruitt (just off the injured list) on Wednesday, who gave up 2 runs to lose the game,  and rehabbing  Anthony Banda yesterday, who gave up three runs after a fine start by Brendan McKay.

Still, we've got to look at all the fine baseball players from days past who simply aren't in the lineup today (although a few may come back). Of the 27 players who've come to bat this year, ranked by OPS, 9 of the top 15 are not with the Bulls.

Gone BullsGamesOPS
Nick Solak85.838Nashville (.880)
Jake Smolinski67.864NC Dinos (1.140)
Mike Brosseau68.998Tampa Bay (.884)
Nate Lowe68.938Tampa Bay (.886)
Jake Cronenworth80.972Injured
Christian Arroyo33.984Injured
Nick Ciuffo34.626??
Andrew Velazquez34.778Cleveland


Trouble in Bull City.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Durham Bulls at the All-Star Break

The Durham Bulls are 90 games into a 140-game season and are doing very well. They lead the South Division of the International League, but just by 1½ games over Gwinnett. They don't have the best record in the league, that would be Cleveland's AAA team, the Columbus Clippers. The South Division is, by far the most competitive division in the league. Gwinnett and Charlotte are 1 and 2 in the wild card standings.


So why am I worried?

What worries me are the ups and downs since mid-June. In the last 21 games the Bulls have 11 wins against 10 losses. In the last 10 games, 4 wins against 6 losses. That's worrisome.

The roster turmoil has been severe over that period. Since June 20 there have been 35 transactions. 19 were subtractions, 16 were additions. Some of that was just back and forth between the Bulls and Tampa Bay, but a few were outright losses (Nick Ciuffo, Andrew Velazquez and Jake Smolinski are just gone).

Will it settle down next week? We can hope.

The trend in run differentials over the last several games may reflect this turmoil. It shows a distinct flat or downward trend over the last several games. And is beginning to fall below the last couple of years.



Pitching

The pitching crew has done just fine. The team ERA is second best (after Gwinnett) in the International League. The ERA for the starters has been high all year. However, those data are somewhat tainted by the 8 times the Bulls used an "opener" who was only in for an inning or so. They put together a combined 7-inning no-hitter last week, and they've put together 6 shutouts.



The pitching crew also excels in keeping keeping their opponents off base. The Bulls opponents have been held to a very low batting average. Even better, their "secondary average" — essentially extra-base hits and walks — is well below their batting average.

Hitting

The Bulls have the third-best batting average in the league. At .278 they are just 2 points behind the league leader, Rochester. Their secondary average is terrific as well. However, note that slight downward trend in recent days.


Defense

Our homegrown measure of defensive prowess, unearned runs per 9 innings, or uERA, has wavered between excellent and awful this year. In general, it has followed the overall downward trend of the International League as a whole. But there have been a couple of games lost to poor defense


The Hitters

This table is sorted by batting average, but also shows two other measures of hitting, Secondary Average and On Base + Slugging Percentage (OPS). Another measure I've come to regard as important is the difference between batting average and secondary average. That shows, sort of, both extra-base performance, speed, and plate discipline (walks). Small samples can lead to distortions, so the numbers for McCarthy, Bemboom, Ricardo, Perez, and McKay are not very useful.



NameGamesABBASADiffOPSNotes
Kean Wong72289.346.253-.093.910
Jake Cronenworth75295.342.359.017.973
Mike Brosseau‡68249.317.402.085.998
Christian Arroyo‡33121.314.397.083.984
Emilio Bonifacio46146.295.240-.055.767
Nate Lowe‡68241.290.440.150.938
Team903019.278.323.045.832
Andrew Velazquez34129.271.240-.031.778Traded
Jake Smolinski67248.270.379.109.864Released
Dalton Kelly2898.265.224-.041.696
Brendan McKay*1549.265.510.245.951
Nick Solak83292.264.349.085.830
Jason Coats53197.259.294.035.792
Michael Perez*2272.236.403.167.812
Nick Ciuffo34123.228.195-.033.626Released
Nathan Lukes56166.217.265.048.630
Joe McCarthy2385.200.353.153.703
Mac James44129.194.240.046.601
Anthony Bemboomº1136.167.139-.028.488
Dashenko Ricardo1025.160.240.080.534
* 40-man; ‡ w/Tampa Bay; º on rehab assignment

Overall, this is a very impressive crew. Much as we wish it were not so, we must expect continued back and forth to Tampa Bay. Remember, the Rays are masters at manipulating rosters. The fact that only a few of these players are on the 40-man (and three on this list are with the Rays as I write this) doesn't mean much. Several can expect a shot (or deserve a shot — Kean Wong especially) before the year is out.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Free Scott Pose

Durham Bulls Radio color commentator Scott Pose has had a very (very) old fine catch up with him! He's paying the fine ... but has also started a GoFundMe page

https://www.gofundme.com/f/free-scott-pose

to help the Miracle League of Durham.

Read all about it at the link.

Great cause and good guy ...

... c

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Importance of Run Differentials

Before we get to today's geek stuff, let's give a shoutout to the Bulls and DBAP crew that managed to host more than 30,000 fans this weekend. Very well done. Thank you! Let's not forget just how great the Bulls looked in the first two games of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders series. Let's try to look past the 13 (count'em, 13!) baserunners stranded in the last game.

About Run Differentials

This is a very simple statistic, the number of runs scored minus the number of runs allowed. But it's right up there with won-loss in importance. There's even a variant stat based on run differentials called Pythagorean Expectation, which we won't go into today, but is a lot of fun to track.

This first chart shows the cumulative game-by-game run differentials so far this year. As of today the Bulls have scored 402 runs and have allowed 330 for a run differential of 72, down slightly from Saturday's peak 0f 76. Nevertheless, pretty darn good at game 69 (they are just one game from mid-season).



Why Do They Matter

Look at the last several years. During those years the Bulls won four Governors' Cups (2011, 2013, 2017, and 2018) and won the IL South. Take a look at the run differentials for those years. All of them were positive — for the G'cup years, they were exceptional. Note: The Bulls also won the IL South in 2008, 9, and 10 with positive run differentials, but this chart was already cluttered enough.



Which brings me back to today. The Durham Bulls at midseason are looking very, very good. Their numbers are up there with those from 2017 and 2013, great years for Bulls (and Bulls' fans).

Friday, June 14, 2019

RailRiders Come to Durham

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders come to town today. They are the New York Yankee's AAA team and the buzz is that rehabbing Yankee's stars Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge could join the team in Durham.

But for a Bulls fan, the better story is that the two best teams in the International League are meeting for a 3-game matchup to be followed by a visit to the RailRiders' home field next week.

The Bulls are on a 6-game winning streak and have won 8 of their last 10. The RailRiders had a recent streak broken, but they have won 7 of their last 10. The Bulls are 3½ games up in the South, the RailRiders are 5½ games up in the North Division.

These are very well-matched teams and, with any luck, we could be seeing some of the most interesting baseball of the year this weekend and next week (assuming you've got MiLB TV).


Monday, June 3, 2019

Ugly Home Stand, So Far

This home stand is not going well. So far the Bulls have lost 5 games and won just two. Two key players were called up (congrats to Nate Lowe and Christian Arroyo) and catcher Nick Ciuffo, who was really improving at the plate, got hurt. Otherwise, it's a bit hard to peg just one reason.

Yes, the Bulls got shut out for just the second time this season. Yes, in one game they gave up 3 unearned runs. But the team ERA is virtually unchanged as is the team batting average. About the only metric that I watch that's been a problem is the opponents' Secondary Average. And that's grown quite a bit, reflecting on the 14 (count 'em, 14!) home runs hit by Louisville and Columbus. The Bulls hit 7 in the same period. Maybe that's what's made the difference.

At any rate, the Durham Bulls are out of first place in the South, with three more home games (against Norfolk) to go.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Back to the Bats

The Bulls split their 4-game Memorial Day series over in Charlotte. But the series featured extreme lows and highs in the last two games. In the first, on Sunday, Bulls pitchers had their worst outing of the year. They gave up 12 bases on balls! And 4 home runs. They lost 12 to 4. Then yesterday the pitching crew threw a shut out, only 3 hits and 4 walks. The hitters reversed the scoring by hitting four home runs and scoring 12 runs for the good guys.

Today is the big day for super-prospect Brendan McKay. So go to the game or watch his start on TV.

Matchup

The Bulls swept the Louisville Bats at their home field last month, and they still match up well against them. The Bats are in third place in the IL West. They come in on a two-game win streak.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Remember — Memorial Day — 2019

.
Bald eagle on veteran's grave, Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Photo by Frank Gilk, Minneapolis Star Tribune. Stories by Jon Tevlin June 25 and August 10, 2011.
Memorial Day 2019

The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak

     Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them? 

     They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts. 

     They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us. 

     They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done. 

     They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave. 

     They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them. 

     They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say, it is you who must say this. 

     They say, We leave you our deaths: Give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.
     
     We were young, they say. We have died; Remember us. 

— Archibald MacLeish

Matchup: Durham at Charlotte

The Durham Bulls took three games from the Norfolk Tides then drove past the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on the way to Charlotte.

The White Sox franchise is in third place, but banging the heck out of the new baseballs. They've hit 68 home runs this year, but their pitching record is the worst in the league.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Matchup: Durham vs Nofolk

The Durham Bulls are off to Norfolk for a 3-game series. Then they drive by Durham to a 4-game set with Charlotte. Then they return for a 9-game homestand. Meanwhile all those metal bat PINGS! will be sounding inside the DBAP as the ACC tournament sees its last days in Durham. Note: Why not use the old DAP for the ACC tournament? That would be a bit crowded, but fun.

The South Division is very competitive this year. Tides are only one game below .500 and they match up well against the Bulls. Plus the Bulls don't do all that well at Harbor Park. They lost 3 out of 4 at the beginning of the season. Plus the lost 2 out of 3 at home. That is, they are 2-5 against the Orioles farm club this year.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Durham Bulls Pitching at Game 41

As a team, Durham Bulls pitching is doing OK. The team ERA of 4.80 is slightly below the International League average of 4.88. But they rank 9th of 14 in the IL, almost a full run behind the leading Syracuse Mets (note the name change from "Chiefs" to "Mets").



The starters, however, are not distinguishing themselves. Over their 156 innings they are at a pretty crummy 5.96, while the Bulls' relievers in their 199 innings are at a stellar (for 2019) ERA of 3.89. Safe to say that it's the relief crew that is keeping the Bulls in the running.

Another way of measuring pitching performance is to look at your opposition's hitting. Here is where the Bulls are doing exceptionally well in some categories. This next chart shows their opponent's batting average and their "secondary average". What this implies is that (with the notable exception of yesterday's game against Rochester, see that tick upwards in the secondary average) Bulls's pitching (and catching) is very stingy when it comes to awarding extra base hits, walks, and stolen bases. They have given up the least amount of walks in the league, are in the middle of the pack on home runs, data on doubles and triples aren't available, and appear to be the best in the league in preventing stolen bases. Hence the tremendous difference in the league secondary average and the secondary average when those teams are playing the Bulls.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Durham Bulls Hitting (and Pitching?) at Game 36

I've become fascinated with a statistic called "Secondary Average" this year and have started tracking it for individual Durham Bulls and for the team. Batting average is pretty simple. The player hits a fair ball and gets on base. But it leaves out a lot of other stuff. Others stats that are out there such as On Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage make up for that, but, for me, the numbers don't connect all that well.

I'm not alone. What got me started on secondary average was a Victor Mather article last April in the New York Times. It's pretty simple. Count up the total bases, back out the singles, add in the stolen bases, back out the caught stealing and divide by the at-bats. Then compare the batting average to the "secondary average".

Let's take a look at the Bulls as a team. This chart shows team  averages on the season. Just the last 15 games are shown. As of today, the Bulls batting average is .269, a few points over the International League average (and ranking 6th in the league). The Bulls secondary average is .307, indicating plenty of extra-base hits, walks, and stolen bases. They are essentially in the middle of the pack on all measures.



An interesting puzzle for all the league is the proliferation of home runs (Gwinnett has hit 59 in over their 37 games!). My guess is that using major league baseballs has a lot to do with it.

This table takes a look at Durham hitters and is sorted by batting average. I was surprised by Kean Wong's numbers and they may be an indication why he has not gained the attention of the Rays after all this successful time with the Bulls. If you want to worry, then worry about the Bulls' catchers. But, wait for the next chart to think about that.

Name
G
AB
BA
2A
Diff
Kean Wong
30
111
.369
.306
-.063
Jake Cronenworth
33
122
.361
.344
-.017
Mike Brosseau
33
122
.311
.352
.041
Andrew Velazquez*
23
93
.290
.269
-.021
Nick Solak
33
108
.269
.296
.027
Nate Lowe*
24
82
.268
.451
.183
Emilio Bonifacio
15
49
.265
.204
-.061
Christian Arroyo*
21
72
.250
.347
.097
Jason Coats
23
79
.228
.278
.050
Jake Smolinski
29
108
.222
.296
.074
Mac James
16
48
.208
.188
-.021
Nathan Lukes
25
75
.200
.280
.080
Nick Ciuffo*
22
79
.152
.139
-.013
Team
36
1172
.269
.299
.030
* On 40-man





I got to wondering if this stat could tell us something about Bulls pitching. Measured by ERA the Bulls have certainly not had stellar pitching this year, but as a team, they are at the league average.

However, if you start plotting the Opponent's batting average and secondary average, something pretty interesting jumps out. The opponent's secondary averages are well below their batting averages. What does that mean? It means that they are not getting very many extra-base hits, walks, stolen bases (and often getting caught stealing when they try). That fits with what we know about Rays' pitching philosophy — avoid walks, let the fielders do their jobs (and maybe all that shifting?).



Friday, May 10, 2019

Durham Bulls in First Place; On to Rochester

I have to say that I did not expect the Bulls to do so well against the IronPigs, but they did. They swept the team with the best International League record in their home park. We can expect the IronPigs to try to return the favor when Lehigh Valley visits the DBAP next week.

In the meantime, the Bulls rode their 5-game winning streak into first place in the South.



And are off to Rochester to play a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins (note: the Twins are now being managed by former Bull Rocco Baldelli — 2002, 2006, 2007, 2010).


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Mixed Home Stand; Off to Pennsylvania

The Bulls had an erratic home stand. After winning six games on the road, they went 4-4 at home. They ended up tied for second place in a very tight South Division.



They are on the road to face the Phillies franchise, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who are unquestionably the best team in the International League this year ... so far. So these next three games are certainly their biggest challenge for the Bulls in this young season.



The IronPigs are also blessed with a blogger who, much like me, isn't as  busy this year as in previous years. Still, he might jump in while the Bulls are in town. Take a look.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Durham Bulls Dominate on the Road

After an extraordinary 6 games won on the road, the Bulls are back today. They left 4 games under .500 and return  two games above .500.



The pitching seems to have sorted itself out. The team ERA has steadily improved over the last two weeks until they have gone from the worst in the International League to 9th, and only a few points off the league average.



What's kept them in the game has been the team hitting, especially extra-base hitting and plate discipline (i.e., walks). The Bulls' "secondary average" is a superb .317.


Note that this season has been front-loaded with a bunch of away games, only 6 home games and 16 away. At least they will be in town for the next 8 days. ...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Durham Bulls Reach .500

Seems like a long slog, but four wins in a row — featuring a top-of-the-9th home run by Andrew Velazquez — gets the Bulls to .500 for the first time this year. Congratulations!


Friday, April 26, 2019

Bulls Sweep Bats; Off to Columbus

The Bulls had a really nice run in Louisville. Now heading up to Columbus to face the Clippers, who are off to a terrific start. Note the new stat in the matchup, Secondary Batting Average, which is sort of a simplified OPS and easier to understand. Teams with a secondary average higher than their batting average hit for power, wait for walks, and steal bases.

Note that the Bulls lost 2 out of 3 games to Columbus on the home opening of the season at the DBAP.

Matchup


Friday, April 19, 2019

Bulls Return; Coping with Rain

The Bulls are returning to a formidable weather forecast. Hope things don't get too disrupted.

Speaking of rain, here's a link from a couple of years ago that still seems relevant.

Meanwhile the Bulls are last in the IL South, primarily due to their last place team ERA of 6.75 (actually tied with Buffalo).


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Off to Norfolk; Pitching Unimproved

Just a quick update here. Hitting still OK. Pitching still not OK (worst in IL).




I can't seem to comment to by own blog! But, to answer the comment:
At this time last year the Bulls team ERA was 2.96 and the IL's ERA was 3.65. So, yeah, the league ERA is up by about a run. But the Bull's ERA is up by about 4 runs!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A New Season

The Bulls first home game is today and we're happy to have them here.

So far, the win-loss is not too favorable, but it's the pitching that's causing problems. Otherwise, this team looks pretty good.




Friday, February 1, 2019

Spring's A'comin!

Here's a listing of folks invited to Spring Training with the Rays. Worth a look.