Bundy's the young pitcher taking a big step forward for the Orioles so far in 2017 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

Bundy’s the young pitcher taking a big step forward for the Orioles so far in 2017

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles’ best starting pitcher so far this season might not have been the guy everyone initially expected.

Of the club’s two young starters entering the season, Kevin Gausman was supposed to be the surer thing, the hurler who would develop into an ace after his great second half in 2016. Dylan Bundy was considered more of a question mark. Plenty of potential, but nobody was certain how his arm would hold up or how hitters would adjust to him in his first full year in a major league rotation.

But so far in 2017, while Gausman has struggled through his first four starts, Bundy has thrived. It’s still early, but the burly right-hander may be developing into the Orioles’ next ace.

His latest gem came against the tough Red Sox lineup Friday, when Bundy barreled through seven shutout innings and didn’t allow an extra-base hit. Though he wasn’t flawless, Bundy was able to make some big pitches to wriggle his way out of jams.

Bundy’s two best escapes came in the second — when he worked out of a first and third, no-out predicament with a strikeout and a double play — and the sixth, when he induced three lazy pop flies after the first two Boston batters reached base. Bundy was helped by three double-play grounders in the first three innings.

“I really just had to use all my pitches tonight,” Bundy said. “That’s a tough lineup over there, a tough lineup to get out. They just battled from pitch one. And they battled me the whole night. So, it was a tough one. I got some double-play balls that my defense helped me out on and got me out of some jams. I think that was really the key to the game.”

Bundy has now delivered quality starts in all four of his outings, and his season ERA sits at 1.37. He’s struck out 20 batters and walked four in 26 1/3 innings of work.

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Bundy, of course, won’t carry a 1.37 ERA all season. Hitters will make adjustments, and he’ll need to adjust accordingly.

Right now, though, Bundy is pitching like the front-line starter the Orioles imagined him to be when they selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. It’s been a long journey for him, overcoming years of injuries, to get to where he is now. And a breakout Bundy season would be a huge boon to the Orioles’ postseason hopes in 2017 — and perhaps beyond.

“We could tell [in spring training] he had gained a lot of confidence from last year and felt good physically,” manager Buck Showalter said. “There were a lot of things in his favor to get off to a good start. He really came in at camp in good shape and his arm felt really good.

“And he’s taken it and run with it so far.”

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. John in Cincy

    April 22, 2017 at 4:44 am

    “Hitters will make adjustments, and he’ll need to adjust accordingly.”
    …………………………………..
    The adjustments the hitters need to make could be huge ones, especially if he’s consistently spotting his cutter. Four plus pitches, and great control suggest that it’s going to be quite some time before Dylan has to worry about him needing to make any adjustments of his own.

    Bundy is an elite talent who has a chance to be one of the greatest Oriole starters in history. He’s just set the bar very high going forward for Gausman and the rest of the rotation, Tillman included.

    • Eldersburg Enigma

      April 22, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Too early to talk about the O’s Hall of Fame!

      • John in Cincy

        April 22, 2017 at 3:23 pm

        It’s not to early to think about it. Bundy’s an amazing talent.

        True, he’ll need to prove he can consistently pitch to the high standards he’s set for himself, before he’s established himself as among the all-time greats, but he’s the real deal, for sure.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 22, 2017 at 8:52 am

    Well he’s the guy SOME of us initially expected to be their best pitcher and WHO says says he can’t maintain a 1.37 ERA for the rest of the season?

    • Paul Folkemer

      April 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

      I admire the optimism, Boog! If Bundy could do it, he’d be only the second pitcher in the last 100 years with an ERA that low (Bob Gibson had a 1.12 in 1968). It’s safe to say the Orioles would be sitting pretty if that happened.

      • John in Cincy

        April 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm

        And Bryce Harper, who’s hitting .407 at the moment, isn’t likely to be the first hitter to bat .400 or better since Ted Williams. Yet Harper’s a special player. If some lesser player was hitting like that, it would be written off as the earliness of the year, but if Harper were to carry an average close to .400 to the All-Star break, given his status as a superstar, we might be inclined to think, well, maybe.

        With Bundy, however, we’re still try to see where he fits. Is he elite, as he looks like he well may be, or just having early season success and will fade? It’s not realistic to think he’s going to vie with what Gibson in The Year of the Pitcher, but is a sub-2.00 ERA — even, say, ” just” in the 1.90 range — attainable? No, it’s unlikely to the extreme. Jim Palmer’s best was 2.07 in 1972. Mike Mussina? His lowest ERA came 20 yrs later, when he posted a 2.54, tho it must be noted his career coincided with the steroid era.

        Realistically, if Dylan can stay under 3.00 for the entire season, then the Orioles should be delighted with the results.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        April 22, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        O’ Ye of little faith! 🙂

  3. Delsym

    April 22, 2017 at 9:32 am

    He’s always been the real deal, now he’s maturing and has more effective weapons, variety makes all the difference, if he’s controlling them all, he will be formidable for a long time, doesn’t seem to need to try to impress with speed like Gauzman… We just can’t let him get away and he can’t elevate his pitches or Camden will kill him and us.
    Delsym

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