Saturday evening the Durham Bulls won a winner-take-all game five against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (New York Yankees AAA affiliate) to win the International League championship.
As winner’s of the Governor’s Cup they take on the Pacific Coast League championship in the single game AAA National Championship. This season it is being held in Columbus, OH and will be begin at 7:05 PM, and National TV coverage can be seen on NBC Sports Network.
The Durham Bulls face off against the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis Cardinals AAA affiliate) for the second consecutive year. Last year the Bulls won 5-3 after a Kean Wong go-ahead grand slam propelled the Bulls to victory and earning Wong the MVP.
Last year Ryan Yarbrough got the start and only went 1.1 innings before handing it off to the rest of the pitching staff with Brent Honeywell (2.2 IP) and Diego Castillo (1.1 IP) closing things out for the Bulls. You’ll likely see an all hands on deck approach in the final game of the season for most of the players.
Forest Snow, Ryan Weber, and Chih-Wei Hu are the only pitchers that cracked the 100 IP milestone for the Bulls.
The current starter is listed as TBD. The Bulls have used bullpen matchups at times this year including game five of the International League Championship Series. Kyle Bird opened and none of the five pitchers threw more than 2.0 innings.
The game is likely to come down to RHP Ian Gibaut (2.09 ERA, 2.69 FIP) and LHP Colin Poche (1.08 ERA, 1.75 FIP) to get the final outs.
Meanwhile, 5’10” right handed pitcher Kevin Herget gets the start for Memphis. The 27 year old has a 4.61 ER and 4.73 FIP over 138.2 innings.
The Bulls Offense will be ready
On the offensive side of the ball the Bull’s Joe McCarthy has come back strong after missing a couple of months with a back injury. In game five of the ILCS McCarthy hit a homer and two doubles to lead the offense. For the season McCarthy has been an on base machine hitting .269/.377/.513 and putting up a 151 wRC+ during the regular season.
Austin Meadows has been the Bulls big deadline acquisition as a part of the Chris Archer trade. In 106 plate appearances since August 1 he has hit ten homers and hit .344/.396/.771 and put up a 223 wRC+.
Kean Wong hit .282/.345/.406 and has put up a 112 wRC+ in his second year with the Bulls. He’s looking to add to his trophy case that includes MVPs of last year’s AAA National Championship Game and the International League All-Star Game.
1B Nathaniel Lowe has flown through the system this year. He started the year in Port Charlotte and has spent the last month in Durham. Through three stops he has hit .330/.416/.568 and put up a 178 wRC+ with 27 homers.
The notable prospects on the offensive side of the ball for the Redbirds are former Rays farmhand and outfielder Justin Williams and catcher Andrew Knitzer.
The Durham Bulls have won their sixth International League title since 2002 and look to top it off with a second consecutive AAA National Championship.