It’s not supposed to be this easy.
I’m not supposed to be this off-base, at least this quickly.
But Dylan Bundy is proving me wrong and proving just how much he belongs in the Orioles rotation despite not pitching much since 2012.
He’s also showing why he was the No. 1 player teams asked the Orioles about at the recently passed trade deadline. And the 23-year-old keeps demonstrating why the Orioles say, “no thanks,” every time.
In his last two starts, Bundy has been just about as good as a pitcher can be.
He retired the first 16 batters he faced against Colorado last week, before tiring and serving up two homers and three runs in a loss.
On Tuesday, against an excellent Rangers lineup that added two more veteran hitters Monday in Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran, Bundy was even better.
He allowed the perfect game to go by the wayside in the fourth with a walk to Ian Desmond and lost a no-hit bid in the sixth on a two-out single by Elvis Andrus.
He allowed no other baserunners through seven innings, striking out seven. Rarely was a ball struck hard. Rarely did Bundy look like he wasn’t in complete control.
“He had some early contact, some early weak contact, and threw a lot of strikes. They never could box one of the pitches out,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “When you give hitters three things to worry about, it’s a different approach for them. It’s really tough on them when you give them two things to worry about. Location was good. He threw a lot of quality strikes.”
Bundy’s fastball velocity was actually down a tick or two to about 94 mph consistently, and it didn’t matter. Because he located everything – up, down, inside, out — and kept an excellent Texas lineup off-balance throughout.
Don’t take my word for it, take Texas manager Jeff Banister’s.
“It was a special night for Bundy with how he was throwing the ball,” Banister said. “There are times you have to tip your hat to a guy when he has his stuff going like that.”
Bundy basically shrugged off the accolades. The former No. 4 pick overall in 2011 just expects to pitch this way, even against mighty lineups like Texas and Colorado.
“Every team in the big leagues has a good lineup. They are professional hitters for a reason, they are good at what they do,” he said. “I don’t look at it any particular way. I just go out there and try to compete and give the guys, six, seven innings if I can. And keep them in the game.”
The seven innings pitched wasn’t just a big-league high, it was a career high. His longest pro outing before Tuesday was 6 2/3 innings for the High-A Frederick Keys on Aug. 1, 2012.
That, of course, is the reason I questioned whether putting Bundy into the rotation now was the right thing to do, since he basically didn’t pitch in the majority of three seasons due to injury.
I knew Bundy had no fear. I knew he had tremendous talent. I was just concerned that he wasn’t stretched out enough to be a consistent starter and that, if he pushed it, he could do more damage to that tremendous right elbow and shoulder that he worked so hard to rehab.
Instead, Bundy is showing he can be efficient in his pitch count and go deep into games. Amazingly, he demonstrated that Tuesday in his fourth major league start.
So what’s next for this wunderkind?
“Mainly just getting deeper in games and getting my arm built up to do that stuff is the biggest part,” he said. “Still got to go above 90 (pitches), so we will see how it goes.”
He threw 88 pitches Tuesday, 60 for strikes. He lasted seven and said he would have loved to have gone eight.
He just keeps making it look easy. And, so far anyway, making people like me think that the Orioles and Bundy may have known what they were doing all along.