I’ve got to admit I’m sort of torn on right-hander Dylan Bundy getting his first major-league start Sunday at Tropicana Field.
The Orioles sure could use help in the rotation. Bundy has more upside than any other pitcher on the team’s roster. Despite all the injuries and rust, he’s got a 3.08 ERA in 22 games in his first extended look at the majors. And his last relief appearance was an eye-opener. No runs and seven outs, all via strikeout.
But it took him 56 pitches to get those seven outs, through 2 1/3 innings. That makes Yovani Gallardo look efficient. Still, it’s not that I wonder whether Bundy can handle the job. The kid can pitch.
I just wonder whether this is best for him in the long run. He’s not going to be able to go deep into a start initially – he knows that. He told me last week he didn’t think he’d be starting soon because of his lack of endurance right now (he hasn’t gone beyond three innings or 57 pitches this year).
And if there is a temptation to start him now, will there also be a temptation to push him a little harder and longer than maybe he should be pushed in 2016?
Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Dave Wallace may be the best in the business in seeing the big picture and not sacrificing the upcoming week for one game. So they deserve the benefit of doubt in this decision.
But I admit I have doubt. Bundy pitched more innings in 2012 than he has since then – three-plus seasons! — due to 2013 Tommy John surgery and a 2015 shoulder condition (along with other lesser maladies thrown in). He’s only 23. He’s the future of this rotation.
And the organization had done such a tremendous job bringing him along slowly. I just don’t like the idea of speeding up that process now. Even if the need is apparent.
Another Palmeiro in the fold
The Orioles last signing of the 2016 draft was the one most Orioles’ fans were watching the closest. Seventh-round pick Preston Palmeiro, a North Carolina State first baseman and the son of former Oriole great, Rafael, signed with about two hours to go before Friday’s deadline. He agreed to a $204,700 signing bonus, which was the suggested money for where he was picked.
I had talked to the elder Palmeiro on the day his former team drafted his son, and he couldn’t have been happier. There could be extra pressure on Preston due to his last name, but the dad didn’t see it that way. He thinks his son will carve out his own identity.
In the court of public opinion, Rafael Palmeiro remains as divisive as anyone I have ever covered. Every time I write his name, I receive comments/emails from those who continue to have good thoughts about Palmeiro, who played with the Orioles from 1994 to 1998 and again in 2004-05.
And, of course, I get plenty of comments about how things ended for Palmeiro, whose career came crashing down in 2005 after he tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.
Palmeiro has not been back to Camden Yards since that disastrous 2005 season, but he did visit Sarasota this spring when his oldest son, Patrick, was attempting to make an Orioles’ minor league affiliate.
No question in my mind that if and when Preston debuts for the Orioles his dad will be there at Camden Yards. That would be a cool moment, I think.
Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich signed 33 of the clubs 41 picks this year. That includes 23 of the first 25 he selected.
The highest pick that went unsigned was another Orioles’ legacy, left-handed pitcher Brandon Bonilla, the son of former Orioles’ outfielder Bobby Bonilla. The younger Bonilla was a fifth-year senior at Hawaii Pacific University, so he wasn’t subject to Friday’s deadline. The Orioles retain his rights until next year’s draft.
The one that got away could end up being 17th round pick Tyler Blohm, a lefty from Archbishop Spalding. The Orioles knew when they took Blohm that he would be difficult to sign due to his interest in pitching at the University of Maryland. Ultimately, that college experience won out.
A new start to the second half and the same old result in the club’s first game: Five innings and 108 pitches thrown by Yovani Gallardo. This madness has to stop. If the Orioles have any chance of making the postseason – and going deep in it – they need to get six-plus innings from their starters. With Bundy entering the rotation, it really needs to be a wake-up call to Gallardo – and Kevin Gausman – to be more efficient and pitch deeper.