Dylan Bundy is a great reminder of why we have to be careful with prospect arms. He sped through the minors and debuted in his first professional season (2012). He then missed all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery and has been on the slow return ever since. After just 65 innings combined in 2014-15, his 2016 outlook was hazy at best. He was out of options and didn't have enough innings built up to be a full-time starter. He relieved in the first half and started in the second. His workload was managed, slowly escalating his pitch count into the 90s. His velocity as a starter dropped from July to August, but jumped back up in September. He's platoon-neutral, has a devastating hammer curve and showed flashes of what made him a top-100 prospect. The next step will be to curb the homers (1.9 HR/9 as a starter).
Bundy was crushed over two innings, allowing five runs on five hits and a walk while striking out one against the Twins on Sunday. Bundy had looked strong through his first two spring starts but fell flat Sunday against a Twins lineup that was laced with MLB starters. The former top prospect has been working on incorporating a cutter this spring yet hasn't quite acquired the feel for it yet. After the game, Bundy said he was simply "catching too much of the plate" and was unable to locate the pitch how he'd like to. On a brighter note, the right-hander was encouraged about throwing more sliders and feeling good with those deliveries.
Bundy pitched three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out three Monday against Detroit. Bundy was dominant Monday in his second outing of the spring. At one point, he followed up back-to-back 94-mph fastballs by dropping a nasty breaking ball on Nicholas Castellanos for a called third strike in his first of three consecutive strikeouts. Bundy will begin the year near the top of the team's rotation and his value is trending up as draft season begins.
Bundy, who had Tommy John surgery in 2013, will be used judiciously this season and may have a start skipped on occasion, Rich Dubroff of MLB.com reports. Although he hasn't openly said Bundy will be on an innings-limit this year, manager Buck Showalter has used choice words when discussing his plan for the right-hander. "I thought Dylan [tired] towards the end of last season -- he'd never admit it," Showalter said. "It wasn't showing up in velocities. It was just a little different crispness to his stuff. We're putting him at the back end when we get an extra day. We float him in the back." He went on to propose the idea of skipping a start before the All-Star Game and slotting the 24-year-old at the bottom of the rotation in the second half of the year. With Chris Tillman out, Bundy, who will make his spring debut Wednesday against the Red Sox, will begin the campaign as the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation.
Bundy is not expected to be on an innings limit in 2017, MASN Sports reports. Bundy logged 109.2 innings for the Orioles last season over 34 games that included 16 starts. Manager Buck Showalter expressed confidence that the young right-hander will be ready to handle the load of being in the starting rotation. Bundy features a mid-90s fastball that he complements with a solid changeup and curveball. The Orioles' first-round selection in 2011 was noticeably better at home (3.14 ERA) than on the road (5.21 ERA) in 2016, and he seemed to tire late in the season. However, with his first full season now in the books, Bundy's splits should improve in his sophomore campaign.
Bundy said on Saturday that he has been throwing his cutter the past two weeks, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports. After featuring the pitch early in his career, Bundy strayed away from it in 2016 because he thought it was contributing to his injury issues. Now, after having put together a healthy season, surpassing 100.0 major league innings for the first time, the righty is looking to add the pitch back to his repertoire. If he can stay healthy, the added fourth pitch should help him show why he was once one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.