07/11/2016 12:01 PM -
It has been a roller coaster of a season for the Lethbridge Bulls to say the least. The team has shown glimpses of the championship team from 2015, but inconsistency has been the theme of the 2016 campaign. The Bulls sit with a 19-14 record with 15 games remaining in the regular season. As of Monday July 11th the Bulls are 6.5 games back of the Medicine Hat Mavericks and 3.5 games back of the second place Okotoks Dawgs. If the playoffs were to start today the Bulls would be heading to Seamen Stadium to take on the Dawgs in the first round.
Coach MacDonald’s squad is not going to go down without a fight. There is time left in the season to make a push for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls will play two games this evening against the Edmonton Prospects, and will head to Okotoks for the last meeting of the season against the Dawgs tomorrow night. The boys will play Medicine Hat four more times before the season ends, and as has been the case this season, anything can happen in this crazy game of baseball.
There have been some notable individual performances on this 2016 Bulls squad. Mitch McGeein has now had enough at bats to qualify to be among the league leaders. McGeein is hitting .446 through 21 games with 21 runs scored, 21 RBI’s, 11 doubles and 5 homeruns. McGeein is 50 points ahead of the next best batting average in the chase for the 2016 WMBL batting title. Senior catcher Travis Steinke has been a run producer for the Bulls this season with a team leading 31 RBI’s in 29 games. If the Bulls want to make a run in this years playoffs they will need McGeein, and Steinke’s bats in the middle of the lineup to continue driving in runs. As a team the Bulls are hitting at a .309 clip, which is outstanding, but they have struggled all year to come up with those clutch hits with runners in scoring position. Lets hope that the Bulls will find some magic in those bats, and finish up the regular season on a strong note heading into the playoffs.
On the bump the Bulls have been similarly inconsistent. With a 4.48 team ERA and a .286 opponents batting average it is clear to see why the Bulls have struggled to win close ball games at times this year. Both of those numbers are too high for a team that is looking to win a second straight WMBL Championship. The pitchers boast a 232/92 strikeout to walk ratio, which would suggest that is not an issue of having the “stuff” to get opposing batters out. A reoccurring theme for the Bulls has been a struggle to put up a zero after the offense has a big inning. Countless times this year the pitching staff has been unable to feed off the momentum of a big inning from the offense. It also has to be mentioned that the Bulls defense has let the pitching staff down at times. A defense that was so good last year has had major issues this season. The Bulls have recorded 62 errors so far this year, compared to 59 the entire regular season in 2015. If the boys can tighten up the defense over the final 15 games it will afford the pitchers a sense of relief when they toe the rubber. It is always more difficult to pitch when in the back of your mind you have to worry about the capability of your defense. This defensive unit is very good, but errors at costly times have continually troubled the Bulls in 2016.
As you can see there have been positives and negatives in all parts of the game this year for the Bulls. That being said, it is no time to panic. There is enough talent on the field night in and night out for the Bulls to make a run at another championship. At times this season, the offense, pitching and defense have shown glimpses of excellence. The struggle has been to put them all together at once. There is enough veteran leadership on this squad to pull it all together before the regular season turns to the playoffs. Fans do not lose faith in this team. Please continue to support the Bulls like you have this season. Lets finish out the regular season strong, and make another run in the playoffs.
The Bulls next home game will take place Thursday night. The division leading Medicine Hat Mavericks will be in town. Game time is 7:05pm. Make sure you contact the Spitz Stadium office to get your tickets! 403-320-2025.