Durham Notebook: Torra In Right Spot

In this edition of Durham Notebook: Matt Torra has been the Bulls' most consistent starter thanks to his ability to hit his spots, while reliever Frank De Los Santos has pitched well in an already strong bullpen, plus the latest roster transactions from the Triangle.

"A matter of Matty getting to be in the right spot…"

Bulls' righty Matt Torra has been the rock of the pitching staff to this point in the season, hauling the highest work load (107 innings) yet owning the lowest ERA among the team's starters at 4.37. His stability, compared to the arms around him who have steadily maintained the International League's worst ERA, has earned him the praise of the team's pitching coach as well.

"Torra has probably been our most consistent pitcher throughout this season — he knows how to locate, he knows how to pitch, he knows how to change bat speeds, and he pitches inside well," said Allen. "Right now it's just a matter of Matty getting to be in the right spot at the right time because he knows how to pitch, he knows what he's trying to accomplish, and that's why his numbers and his consistency have been the way they are. Torra exploits weaknesses and he wins."

The reliability of his game has only come with experience, however, and it's been a fairly slow but steady process. Ugly starts in April and May gave way to him giving up 17 earned runs in both months, but his stuff is coming around as of late.

With a pending breakthrough for the 28-year old, the Triangle's Team will try to ride the momentum of Torra's impressive June (2-0, 2.82) as he uses his brand of intelligent, dependable pitching to shut down the International League.

Bulls ‘pen augmented by young talent

Reflecting the overpowering K-ability that has Durham leading the league in strikeouts (795), the team's relievers have accounted for just five fewer strikeouts (395) than the starters have this season all in about 90 fewer innings pitched.

A big reason for the consistent bullpen play, which has allowed less than a third of its 109 inherited runners to score, is the performance of southpaw Frank De Los Santos. The native of the Dominican Republic, who was called up from the Montgomery Biscuits in late June, owns a 2-1 record with a 2.45 ERA through 11 innings with Durham.

"I think that things are going really good for him right now—a lot of credit goes to our Double- A pitching coach that sent Frankie De Los Santos up here believing in himself and having the confidence to throw his pitches in any situation," said Bulls pitching coach Neil Allen. "That's what it takes to pitch in Triple-A and, of course, the major leagues. He's got tons of confidence in all of his pitches right now, especially his off-speed behind in the count, and he's really showing a lot of potential."

Transactions in the Triangle

Catcher Stephen Vogt returned from a DL stint on July 12th and has had two multi-RBI games since returning. The backstop is tied for the fourth-most RBIs on the team this season with 32.

Outfielder Jeff Salazar was released by the Rays organization on the same day. Salazar, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy, was hitting .206 with 5 HR and 22 RBI, nine of which were in the month of June.

Second-baseman Will Rhymes was optioned back to Durham on today—the Houston native hit .231 back in April with a homer and 7 RBI before being called up to Tampa Bay. Infielder Matt Mangini was placed on the Temporary Inactive List in a corresponding move.

Home is where the winning record is

The Bulls (45-54) will remain at the DBAP through the 23rd of the month, where they are 25-23 this season compared to 20-31 on the road. The team finishes off the IL North-leading Lehigh Valley IronPigs (54-44) followed by the Rochester Red Wings (50-49) as they continue to look up to the Charlotte Knights (56-44) by 10.5 games.

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


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