Durham Notebook: Toros' Torra Heating Up

Ben Christoph checks in from the Triangle with the latest happenings in Bulls' country. Inside, Matt Torra is the team's hottest pitcher, Durham hitters have suddenly come alive, plus the latest transaction news.

The Toros' Torra heating up

Bulls righty Matt Torra has earned four wins and only one loss since May 20th, posting a 1.29 ERA in that span while allowing only five walks and accumulating 18 strikeouts. In that same time period, over five starts, he has given up only 24 hits which translates in to a .233 opponent batting average.

According to the team's media relations department, Torra's ERA is the best in the International League over that 4-week time period. The recent success of the former UMass Minuteman is the display of a great mid-season turnaround after starting out the year at 2-5 and owning an 8.22 ERA one month ago.

Durham's pitching staff will hope for more outings like this from the 27-year old as they still collectively dwell in the league's cellar in terms of ERA (4.44) and, despite continuing to lead the IL in strikeouts, the Bulls feature a K/BB ratio of 2.11 that is only good enough to place them in the middle of the pack.

Late-blooming batters

The team is in the midst of a 4-game streak in which they have had 10 or more hits, which is impressive considering the lackluster production at the plate the Bulls have had so far this season. Their team batting average of .251 has been in the bottom half of the league rankings virtually all season, and a collective slugging percentage of .353 puts them dead-last in the league.

However, after this recent mid-season tear, Durham owns a .281 average which is second best in the league this month. Shortstop Reid Brignac and catcher Stephen Vogt are on 13 and 18-game on-base streaks, respectively, and Vogt is showing the International League what he's made of in the month of June as he's gone 26-for-70 with 3 HR and 11 RBI.

The backstop has gotten on base in every start he has made since returning to the Bulls from the Rays, and has helped from the behind the plate as well, improving his caught-stealing percentage from 12.5% one month ago to 63.6%.

Transactions in the Triangle

Both Jeff Keppinger and Evan Longoria joined the team on June 15th on rehab assignments, with Longo's stint being cut short after hamstring soreness earlier this week. However, Keppinger has seen action in the Bulls' road trip, playing at the corners and as the DH but amassing only one hit in 17 at-bats and one RBI.

Righty Brandon Gomes (4-1, 1.14 ERA, 6 SV), the primary closer for the Bulls this season, returns to the team after being optioned back from the Rays, and trades places with outfielder Rich Thompson who was recalled to the bigs on the same day after hitting .231 with two RBI over his last 10 games.

Southpaw Frank De Los Santos (4-1, 2.06 ERA, 4 SV) was also added to the team as he was promoted from AA Montgomery on Thursday. The 24-year old reliever has held opposing batters to a .268 average this season and has only given up four earned runs in his last 10 appearances, all of which were in one game.

Back to DBAP

The Bulls (32-42) return home to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Friday for a 4-game series against the Buffalo Bisons (38-36) followed by the Syracuse Chiefs (35-37). The team, which is 17-18 at home this season, still lags behind the division-leading Charlotte Knights (42-32) by 10 games.

Ben Christoph is the Durham beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @btchristoph


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