Bundy's not worried about velocity dip (and other O's thoughts: Crazy play, O'Day, Rickard, Fry) - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Bundy’s not worried about velocity dip (and other O’s thoughts: Crazy play, O’Day, Rickard, Fry)

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Yes, Dylan Bundy’s fastball velocity was down Wednesday night during the Orioles’ 5-4, 11th inning win.

And that can make a fan base nervous.

Because this is Bundy, who is finally healthy and pitching the way everyone expected him to when the Orioles selected him with the fourth pick overall in 2011.

And that Bundy, pre-elbow surgery and pre-shoulder injury, reached the high 90s with his menacing fastball.

The Bundy on Wednesday hit 90 mph or higher just twice in his first two innings. By the fourth, though, he was consistently in the low 90s, topping out at 93.3 mph, according to mlb.com’s Gameday. His last two four-seam fastballs in the seventh inning were 92 and 91.7.

What gives? Why was his fastball better in the middle innings?

“Probably getting loosened up more, more so than that first and second inning, because I did feel better with my overall body in the third or fourth inning,” he said. “I started to feel better overall. And I think I did notice it a little bit, more life on the ball at the end across the plate.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Bundy has five quality starts in five attempts. His ERA is sitting at 1.65. He allowed just two solo homers Wednesday and said he now understands how he has to pitch – more changeups, more sliders, more two-seam fastballs – when he’s not carrying his top fastball.

So, he’s not concerned at all, and he says you shouldn’t be either.

“A quality start is a quality start. I’m not too worried about the numbers. I don’t think you guys need to be worried either. But I’ve been mixing in more two-seamers this year,” he said. “But, overall, I felt good when I left the game, so I’m happy about it.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he’s mindful of Bundy’s drop in velocity, but it also shows the pitcher he has become.

“Sure, I see it. And we talk to him,” Showalter said. “I thought this was one of his better outings, considering. He needed all of his weapons tonight to get through that. Early on, he was really struggling to get the ball where he wanted to get it. It is something you notice, because you have a history of guys. … I like to think he’s pacing himself through this and knows when to go back and get (the better fastball) and when not to. But it’s something we are going to keep an eye on.”

A real home run, Grandpa?

There’s probably about nine of you that remember that Bell System commercial back in 1983, when a little boy on a phone (one attached to the wall and everything) told his grandfather about a home run he hit, which, video showed, was a series of Little League errors. He ends the tale with, “A real home run, Grandpa.”

That bit of ‘how-do-you-remember-this crap?’ nostalgia struck me in the second inning Wednesday night when Seth Smith singled to center. And scored.

He scored because Ryan Flaherty trucked to third as Kevin Kiermaier unleashed a bad throw. Pitcher Alex Cobb picked up the ball in foul territory and threw back to third to try and get Flaherty again.

The ball caromed off Flaherty’s helmet and bounced into left field. Flaherty scored easily and Smith, who never stopped running, scored just ahead of the throw home.

“Two strikes, just trying to steal second and he put the ball in play and it turned into a circus,” Flaherty said. “Going to third, the ball gets away, try to go home, then you realize don’t go home. You go back to third, it ends up hitting you in the helmet. It bounces in the outfield for an inside the park home run. … It’s a complete circus play.”

Great hustle play by Smith. And one of the more bizarre sequences I’ve seen in some time – at least since that 1980s commercial.

Shelve the worries about O’Day for now

There was growing concern that Darren O’Day wasn’t the same pitcher this year that he had been in the past.

It’s a long season, I said in the first week when O’Day allowed five runs in his first three outings while battling the flu. It’s still a long season, so let’s not make proclamations that O’Day is all the way back just yet.

But he sure looked like the guy who has been one of the most dependable relievers in club history. He entered Wednesday’s game in the eighth with the bases loaded and no outs and the Orioles clinging to a 3-2 lead. He picked up two groundouts and a pop-up, allowing only one run to score.

“That was probably the biggest part of the game other than Dylan’s outing was Darren doing that job in that situation,” Showalter said. “That was big for us. … I think we all have a lot of confidence when there’s a bump in the road or something that he’ll get back on track.”

In his last six innings, spanning six appearances, O’Day has allowed three hits, no walks and no runs while striking out five.

Due to the lack of innings, that 5.19 ERA still isn’t pretty. But what matters for relievers is what they’ve done lately, and O’Day has been O’Day lately.

To bunt or not to bunt

I had several Twitter followers complain to me that the Orioles should have bunted with runners at first and second and no outs with the game tied 3-3 in the eighth.

I wouldn’t have, because Mark Trumbo was up. And, frankly, he’s not a bunter. He’s a guy that led the AL in homers last year.

Some of the Twitter followers pressed forward.

OK, then bring in Craig Gentry, who can bunt to get the runners over. Then you’d have a runner on third with one out.

Again, I get it, but I still wouldn’t have done it.

In a tie game, in the late innings, the last thing I’d do is replace a bat like Trumbo’s – one that can end a game with one swing – with Gentry’s. Furthermore, you also are taking Gentry’s legs off the bench, when you might need him to run later in the game (the remaining pinch-running options were Caleb Joseph, J.J. Hardy and Trey Mancini, not exactly sprinters).

In fact, Gentry did score the winning run in the 11th, after he pinch-ran for Welington Castillo (though he jogged home from third on Smith’s walkoff walk).

I understand Trumbo has struggled this year, but it’s been 20 games, not 80. Of course, Trumbo fanned in the eighth, so the move – or non-move – backfired.

Still, I would have done the same thing as Showalter – and not exchanged Trumbo’s bat for an out by a bunting Gentry.

Rickard about ready; Fry demoted

Joey Rickard (left middle finger sprain) looks like he is done his brief rehab assignment after playing a doubleheader at Low-A Delmarva on Wednesday. He batted second and had a single in three at-bats in each game.

Rickard was supposed to play the outfield in one of Wednesday’s games, but due to the recent rain in the region, the Orioles had Rickard serve as the designated hitter in both contests for the Shorebirds.

Showalter expects that Rickard will be activated Friday for the series in New York. The Orioles sent lefty Paul Fry back to Triple-A Norfolk after Wednesday’s game, so a 25-man roster spot has been created for Rickard.

That means the Orioles will have a five-man bench for a while – at least until they need to make more roster moves to add closer Zach Britton and starter Chris Tillman.

21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    April 27, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Dan, speaking of non-sprinters (Joseph, Hardy & Mancini ) did anyone else here besides myself notice what seemed to be a lack of hustle by Schoop on the play in which he was thrown out at 3rd? Maybe I saw the play incorrectly, but Schoop seemed to be what us old-timers called “dogging it” before sliding. Perhaps he simply didn’t think a throw was coming … I dunno? Am I alone here?

    I’m thinking maybe Captain Jones needs to school both Schoop & Machado on the finer points of base running, specifically hustle and smarts. Had he not been tagged out in that inning, there would have been no need for extra innings.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 10:38 am

      It was definitely a lackluster run by Schoop, easily out. Afterward Buck lauded him for pushing the envelope. Which either means he was lauding him for the idea or cutting us off before we asked about his hustle.

  2. 5brooks5

    April 27, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Boog, I certainly noted Schoop’s apparent waltz into 3rd base. Also Dan, did you notice how Cobb kept going to his forearm through the whole game? Pinetar? Weird

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 27, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Thanks for the validation Brooks. Did you also notice how neither announcer seemed to notice? (or swallowed the mike)

    • Jonathan

      April 27, 2017 at 9:27 am

      Isn’t vasiline also used in a similar way? Could that be why the ball went haywire in the second inning?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 10:42 am

      My take: No question it was pine tar or another tacky substance. So why didn’t the Orioles do anything? Buck is very liberal on this. He feels that the baseballs are super slick and he’d prefer pitchers can get a grip while throwing 90-plus at hitters. If they believe its doctoring the pitches, I assume they’d step in, but that must not have been the case yesterday. But nothing gets beyond those guys (or cameras)

      • Jonathan

        April 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm

        I have no doubt about that (their not missing anything). Buck has implied it’s okay for his pitchers to do it if necessary in past statements, right? They must have a unspoken level of what is okay and what is not okay I would imagine.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      That’s my sense.

  3. claudecat

    April 27, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Here’s a question, prompted by Boog’s comment: has any team in baseball had as many outs recorded on the basepaths so far this year as the O’s? Seems like there have been quite a few. Taking (not quite) the extra base, outs at the plate, caught steals/botched hit and runs… if we’ve been picked off I don’t recall it, so at least there’s that.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 10:44 am

      I’ll monitor it, but I’m sure. In fact the Rays had several in this series.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    April 27, 2017 at 8:44 am

    On the subject of bunting; agree that T rumbo needs to be swinging away. However, with Schoop on first, one out and Tampa in a hard shift to the 1st base side, there is no excuse why Flaherty didn’t bunt down the 3rd base line. Longoria charges and Schoop can take 3rd in a wheelchair. Frankly, if a banjo hitting backup like Ryan can’t bunt the other way with his eyes closed he probably shouldn’t be on the team.
    One positive, falling asleep after the Rays take the lead in extras, then waking up and hearing the O’s pulled it out is kinda like finding a 20 in your jeans when you put them in the washing machine.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 10:45 am

      That is a frustrating one, I’ll admit. A few successful bunts into the shift would cure some shifting, I’d imagine.

  5. Jonathan

    April 27, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Every MLB player should be an experienced bunter. The situation Trumbo was in is exactly why every mlb player should be. If you are not, then it reduces your effectiveness as a player. I think Trumbo should feel ashamed for not trying it or not knowing how to do it. Bunting has been known to kick start a hot streak with the bat as well. It gets you into meeting the bat with the ball…….which Trumbo is having a tough time doing right now.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 11:40 am

      All due respect Jonathan, but 1. You can practice all you want. Trumbo is gonna get the call to bunt maybe 5 times a season. Tops. No one wants to take the bat out of his hand or any slugger like him. That’s the game we have today. So it’s real hard to be good at something you never use in practicality. 2. That “start a hit streak” thing may be taught in Little League. But it doesn’t work in the majors, where every pitcher is throwing gas and every pitcher is different. Trumbo can meet the bat with the ball. It’s driving it that has been the issue. Or incorrectly guessing on pitches. Go ahead and find me an instance in the last 10 years where a bunt started a hot streak. It’s like a baseball old wives tale.

      • Jonathan

        April 27, 2017 at 6:32 pm

        I have seen mlb players bunt when they have been struggling at the plate. In the last ten years it hasn’t been used for someone who is a good batter but had a recent struggle that I’ve seen first hand. Now I’m not saying that it was used in that way intentionally previously, and I’m not saying it hasn’t because it was the impression, but it has set a good feeling making a smart play that has helped players improve their at bats for whatever reason that I’ve seen. Perhaps it has been psychological on the hitter, because “Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical” as is common knowledge. Here are a couple ways it can help psychologically: 1) When you are struggling, it’s common knowledge that you tend to tighten up more due to the focus and stress of the situation. Doing something positively can help break you out of that cycle of obsessing on the negative. 2) Doing something positive can have a positive impact on your thinking not just getting your mind off the negative. “Hey, I helped the team! I feel good about myself” which can increase adrenaline and focus. Either of these two can help you to play more loosely at the plate, which is always encouraged for hitting success. Perception has such a great impact on players individually and collectively.

        Yes, I have seen it help a player with my own eyes, but that’s inconsequential and incidental. Saying it’s an “old wives tale” is pretty funny though, because it just was advice given based upon veteran players experience, which is not worthy of dismissal despite are love of ‘analytics’ today, for experience does has a place at the table of discussion.

        But more importantly, if you are struggling at the plate and a good play could help your team out, you do it, if you believe in helping the team. That’s old school thinking. His strikeout proved it. His chance of helping the team was greater in that situation bunting than swinging away, because his chance of making a bunt (if he had practiced it that week knowing he was struggling and previously in his life) was greater than getting a hit.

        I know Trumbo wouldn’t have been asked to bunt in that situation, but it’s not uncommon for players to see the right move and do it for the team. I’ve seen Adam Jones do it a few years back. JJ Hardy has bat pop, and he has laid down bunts.

        I just think it would have been much better for Trumbo and the team personally. I would have loved to see it happen for Trumbo’s sake alone.

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Jonathan: completely reasonable argument. Can’t say I agree with all of it, or even most of it, but that’s OK. I certainly don’t have all the answers and you presented your points well. Thanks for clarification and the sensible argument. That’s why I like this place.

      • Jonathan

        April 28, 2017 at 8:37 am

        Thanks Dan, and thanks for having this open forum and interesting articles on our boys.

  6. Raymo

    April 27, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Boog, you nailed it. Schoop was daydreaming on his way to third, and the announcers didn’t say a word. It was unacceptable and I was furious. If we lost that game it would’ve been all on him.

  7. Raymo

    April 27, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Anyone know what the third-base coach was doing during the play?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      April 27, 2017 at 9:53 am

      I couldn’t tell, he (Bobby Dickerson) was out of camera view. He MUST have given Schoop the sign to slide at least?

    • Dan Connolly

      April 27, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Dickerson was in right position, indicating slide. Schoop just didn’t realize the urgency. The kid works. I’m not worried about it.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2016 BaltimoreBaseball.com | BaltimoreBaseball.com is an unofficial site that is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Baltimore Orioles. Partner with USA Today Sports Digital Properties.

To Top