Let’s start with this:
Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy deserves a mulligan or two. In comparison to the rest of the Orioles’ starting rotation, Bundy should get about 10 mulligans. Maybe more.
But in Monday night’s 12-0 beatdown by a now-surging Cleveland Indians club that has won six straight and are looking like the squad that went to the 2016 World Series, Bundy didn’t look good.
From the beginning, he said he didn’t have his command. It wasn’t an issue until the fourth, when everything unraveled.
“I didn’t have anything. So, I was battling out there, trying to get outs, trying to locate as best as I could,” Bundy (7-6, 3.72 ERA) said. “Even in the first three innings, I was getting some pretty long or hard outs. And wasn’t really commanding the baseball at all.”
Bundy had allowed four runs or more just twice in his first 13 starts this season. He allowed four in the fourth inning Monday. All the runs scored on doubles. He ultimately was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
In a 0-0 game in the fourth, Bundy allowed three consecutive one-out doubles, walked a batter, hit another, picked up a strikeout and then yielded a two-out, two-run double to ninth-place hitter Austin Jackson.
Bundy got out of the inning, but couldn’t escape the fifth, recording just one out before being lifted for Vidal Nuno.
The 4 1/3 innings pitched represented the shortest outing of the season for Bundy. He threw 100 pitches, but only 58 were for strikes.
“I was hoping we could get five out of him. He struggled to get through the fourth. Just unlike him. Seemed like he was fighting his delivery, fighting his command,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You could tell he was just searching for it a little bit. We’ve been obviously spoiled at a good level of pitching with him. Tonight (that) wasn’t the case.”
It certainly didn’t help that Bundy was opposing former AL Cy Young Award winner, Corey Kluber, who allowed three hits and struck out 11 in nine shutout innings. It was the fifth shutout of his career and 12th complete game. Kluber threw only eight more pitches than Bundy but recorded 14 more outs.
The question obviously now is whether Bundy is OK. He’s allowed 13 earned runs in his past 15 1/3 innings spanning his last three starts.
He’s already thrown 92 innings, and it is June. He threw 109 2/3 all of last year.
And, as unfair as it may be, there’s always health concerns with Bundy, too, because of his history fighting arm troubles.
At this point, though, Bundy says his problems are fairly simple. He’s struggling with his command. And he’s confident he can fix that.
“I’m giving up a lot of runs recently. Mainly it all boils down to command,” he said. “I’m not commanding the baseball and throwing it where I want to and getting ahead of hitters like I did early in the season. I want to get back to that. I’ll work on it in my bullpen in between here and my next start and hopefully it gets better.”
Bundy gets a mulligan and the benefit of the doubt here. He’s earned it this season.
And, really, what’s the alternative? If Bundy can’t be effective every fifth day, one can only imagine how bad this team could be in 2017.