O’s have rotation health questions; is a Bundy shutdown looming? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

O’s have rotation health questions; is a Bundy shutdown looming?

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was vague when asked about his rotation for the last home series of the regular season this weekend.

He said Yovani Gallardo will start Friday against Arizona and lefty Wade Miley will pitch Saturday. Sunday’s home finale, which would set up as rookie Dylan Bundy’s turn in this six-man rotation, is listed as TBD.

Showalter’s non-committal on that spot for now.

“We have some moving parts with our rotation, some health things that we’ve got to be on top of,” Showalter said. “Wait and see how Miley’s work day goes. Wait and see how (Kevin Gausman) feels after his start (he pitched Tuesday night), how Tillman feels after his start (scheduled for Thursday). We’ll try to gauge it. We have more than five (starters) and we have off days.”

Showalter didn’t mention Bundy in his rundown.

But if you read between the lines, that absence says plenty.

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The 23-year-old, who has been the organization’s top pitching prospect for years, has 104 2/3 innings this season. Bundy threw 105 1/3 in his first professional year in 2012. And then, due to injuries including 2013 Tommy John surgery, Bundy threw just 63 innings in 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined.

Heading into this year, the sense was that Bundy wouldn’t pitch more than 70 innings or so in 2016, and all or most would come out of the bullpen.

In the first half of the year, all in relief, Bundy went 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA, allowing 13 earned runs in 38 innings over 22 games. He was moved into the rotation to begin the second half, and he is 7-5 with a 4.73 ERA, allowing 35 runs in 66 2/3 innings in the span of 13 starts.

Add it together, and Bundy is one out short of tying his career high for a season. That’s a huge jump from previous years.

He hasn’t pitched six full innings since Aug. 22. In his last three starts, he’s allowed 13 earned runs in 14 innings, making you wonder if the escalated workload is really getting to him. The Orioles have been careful with Bundy throughout the years, so you also have to wonder if he’s experiencing some physical ailments that scare the Orioles into shutting Bundy down to protect him for the future.

Again, this is more speculation and tea-leaf reading than anything. I’m sure we’ll know more soon enough. Like whether Bundy has pitched his last game this season or maybe started his last game this season. Maybe they’ll skip him once to try and give him a little more rest. Maybe the TBD isn’t just about Bundy. Showalter did mention a couple potential issues.

When asked specifically if he may skip someone’s start in the rotation over the final 11 days, this is how Showalter answered: “We’ve got some things we can play with after the off day (Monday), but right now it’s about tonight’s game, trying to win it and we’ll see where we are after that. We take in a lot of information each day from workdays. We’ve got two or three pieces of information yesterday that will play into our decision as we go forward. A lot of things you could say. It seems like over half the stuff never gets public, that you have to kind of keep in house. So it doesn’t behoove anybody to be talking about it publicly.”

OK, so I guess we’ll see what all this means.

But a betting man says Bundy’s situation is certainly part of the equation.

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