It is one of the most-asked questions from fans this year: Will Dylan Bundy enter the starting rotation this season?
That was not very likely going into the season, since he is on about a 75-inning limit for this season. Bundy had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and shoulder issues last year. He did not pitch at all in 2013, pitched 41 1/3 innings in 2014 and threw 22 innings last year in the minor leagues for Double-A Bowie. There is no way the Orioles can pack too many innings on him this year with a total of just 63 1/3 innings over his previous three seasons.
But in recent weeks, Bundy has pitched less often but has thrown more innings when he takes the mound. In his first 14 games in 2016, Bundy pitched two innings or more four times. Now he has done that in five of his last six outings.
If you look at his last eight appearances, he pitched May 24 with one day of rest, May 27 with two days’ rest, May 31 with three days’ rest, June 4 with three days’ rest, June 9 with four days’ rest, June 15 with five days’ rest, June 20 on four days and June 26 on five days.
Is he being stretched out to start later in the year? Again, not likely. He just doesn’t have the innings for that, and the Orioles have to think with their head and not their heart here. They can’t risk Bundy’s future for a few starts and innings later this year. Could he make a few short starts of three or four innings? Possibly. Could he enter the rotation as one of the five starters with no restrictions? Probably next year, but very likely not during the 2016 season.
Buck Showalter said recently: “With Dylan, I’m not going to start pitching him back-to-back. Keep our priorities in mind with him. Not going to put him in harm’s way. Can’t get our heart ahead of our brain. Can’t think of anything worse than him not getting through the year physically (healthy). We are not going to take that chance.”
What we have seen in these longer outings is a more effective Bundy with sharper stuff and his velocity ticking up, touching 97 mph at times. In his past four games, he has thrown 9 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts. For the year, he is 2-1 with a 3.55 ERA over 33 innings. He has walked just one batter over his last 15 1/3 frames.
At 23, Bundy is finally showing the promise at the major league level that he seemed to have all along. He just needed to get healthy. Now that he is pitching this well, the best play for the Orioles seems to be to keep him doing exactly what he is doing right now.
Leave well enough alone and be thrilled with his health and progress. Bundy’s return to a starting rotation can wait.
More offense, another win: It seems that a day off and a cross-country trip did little to slow the Orioles’ rampaging offense right now. They led San Diego 11-1 in the sixth inning last night and gave up six late runs to post an 11-7 win over the Padres. It was a nice start to a nine-game West Coast trip. The Orioles are 46-30 overall and leading the division by 4 1/2 games with six wins in a row. They have won 10 of 14 and 18 of their last 26 games.
A victory today would give the Orioles their third seven-game win streak of the 2016 season.
The O’s No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters last night - Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado and Chris Davis - went a combined 9-for-14 with three doubles, a homer, four runs and six RBIs. The Orioles had 17 hits and bashed three more homers. They have hit 54 this month, one short of the major league record for June.
The O’s have scored 31 runs over the last three games, 56 runs n seven games and 170 runs in 26 games this month. That is an average of 6.54 runs per game in June. Schoop is now batting .488 (21-for-43) during a 10-game hitting streak and .298 for the season.
Can the O’s keep swinging well during this afternoon’s game as they go for a two-game sweep?