It’s hard to put brakes on the Dylan Bundy Train right now.
The kid may get fatigued as the season progresses. His blessed arm may not remain as effective as innings pile up. So many things can happen between now and October, especially since this is unchartered territory for Bundy.
But goodness gracious does he look good right now.
In his first two starts, the 23-year-old Bundy demonstrated why the Orioles are so high on him and wanted him to start despite the need for him to build endurance.
But on Wednesday?
On Wednesday, Bundy demonstrated why the club has refused to part with him through a Tommy John surgery, a shoulder condition and an absence of minor league options.
He showed why he is untouchable at this point in his young career.
For five innings, Bundy was perfect. Literally.
He faced 15 batters, retired them all and struck out eight.
“Dylan was really good. Solid. Got to get into another inning that he hadn’t been into, got to throw a couple more pitches than he’d thrown,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Just elevated a couple changeups. He was the reason we were in that game. Impressive.”
What was most impressive was Bundy’s sequencing. He kept setting up legitimate major leaguers and then setting them down.
In the second, he threw a 96-mph fastball high-and-tight that dropped Mark Reynolds to the dirt. He followed with a knee-buckling curveball that Reynolds could only admire for strike three.
Bundy struck out all three batters in the second. In the fourth, he started Nolan Arenado with an 83-mph changeup that the slugging Arenado was seconds ahead of (I’m barely exaggerating). Then he threw a 92-mph sinker, a 97-mph chase pitch in the other batter’s box and came back with 94-mph at the knees for another strike three.
Just not fair.
“Yeah, I’m starting to learn the routine a little bit and get in a groove,” he said.
Bundy retired his first batter in the sixth – his 16th straight – on a swinging bunt before losing Reynolds on a 3-2 count for a walk. At that point, the Orioles kept their modern-franchise-long streak alive – they’ve never been on either side of a perfect game.
Within an eyeblink, Bundy then lost his no-hitter and shutout when former Oriole Nick Hundley slammed a changeup into the left field seats. Two batters later, rookie David Dahl crushed a changeup to deep center for his first big league homer and Bundy was taken out of the game with his club losing 3-0 and his pitch count at a career-high 89 (61 strikes)
“Just two mistakes, changeups that were up in the zone and they were able to tag them for homers,” Bundy said. “Maybe just a little more focus or location a little bit better in the sixth inning and you get out of that with six innings pitched and no harm done.”
Some may grouse that Showalter should have pulled Bundy after the first homer, but that’s hindsight. At that point, he hadn’t yet reached his pitch count from the previous game – 87 pitches – and he had made one mistake. And he got a comebacker from the next batter before serving up the homer to Dahl.
“The third time through the order those guys can make adjustments, that’s why they are at this level,” Bundy said. “So I’ve got to make adjustments along with them and locate even better as the game gets going deeper.”
It’s all a learning experience for Bundy. And even for Showalter, in knowing when Bundy has had enough and when he can push ahead a little more. They’ve only had three starts together.
We can’t forget that Bundy is only 23 and basically had a three-season layoff.
But when he pitches like he did Wednesday, it’s easy to forget just how young he is in baseball terms.