As the Toledo Mud Hens prepare to square off with the Durham Bulls in the International League playoffs, here are three things to know about Toledo’s opponent before the series begins at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at Fifth Third Field.
1. Recent playoff mainstay: While Toledo earned its first playoff berth since 2007, Durham won the IL South and has made the playoffs seven times during that stretch. This season, the Bulls finished 79-60 and won the division by nine games. They scored a league-best 4.70 runs per game and were third in team ERA at 3.54. Durham is the defending Triple-A champion after defeating the Memphis Redbirds in last season’s National Championship Game. Since 2007, Durham has won two Triple-A titles and lost once in the title game.
2. Meadows status murky: Tampa Bay, the MLB parent club for Durham, received prized outfield prospect Austin Meadows in a July trade that sent Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Meadows, who was assigned to Durham after the trade, hit three home runs in an Aug. 29 game but suffered a left thumb injury when he was hit by a pitch in the same contest. He hasn’t played since and his playoff availability is in doubt. Meadows has hit .344 with 10 homers and 22 RBIs in 27 games with Durham, and he hit .292 with five homers, 13 RBIs, and four steals in 49 games with the Pirates earlier this year.
3. Bulls hit hard by call-ups: September call-ups have done a number on the Bulls as catcher Nick Ciuffo (a 2013 first-round pick), utility man Andrew Velazquez, and pitcher Jaime Schultz all were recently called up to the Rays. Infielder Christian Arroyo also was placed on the 7-day disabled list by Durham.
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