Duquette talks Bundy and Gausman, plus a look at the RISP stat

After pitching a total of 63 1/3 innings from 2013-2015, Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy is at 90 2/3 innings after his most recent outing against the Yankees. Bundy was limited after his Tommy John surgery from June 2013 and the subsequent rehab in addition to a shoulder issue that ended his 2015 season.

But as the Orioles push for a playoff spot with 26 games to go, there is no indication that the club will skip any of Bundy’s starts or consider shutting him down before the season ends. Even if the club gets into the postseason and makes a deep run into October.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed this when he was a guest on my radio show Sunday on the O’s flagship station 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore.

I asked him if Bundy could pitch through the playoffs if the O’s make a deep run.

Dylan-Bundy-throwing-orange-sidebar.jpg“He’s doing good,” Duquette said. “The club spent a lot of time carefully managing his workload earlier in the year and he looks good. He’s good to go, yeah. We’re inclined if he feels good to let him keep pitching.”

Duquette did not express any concern about Bundy’s velocity, which has declined slightly recently. According to BrooksBaseball.net, Bundy’s average velocity in his first three starts was 96.1, 95.7 and 96.0 mph. In his last three, it has been 94.4, 93.5 and 94.2 mph.

“His velocity is still good,” Duquette said. “The improvement in his other pitches, his curve and the consistency of his changeup where he keeps it down, that makes that fastball more deceptive. Particularly when you have the consistency of the secondary stuff he has had over the last month. So if you watch the hitters, that is still a good fastball. He’s been able to throw his fastball up and in to righties effectively with good command of it.”

After allowing 12 runs in 14 1/3 innings over a three-start stretch, Bundy took the mound Friday night against New York. He threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings on two hits and 97 pitches. Bundy is 8-5 with a 3.47 ERA.

Duquette also talked about right-hander Kevin Gausman and the roll he has been on. Over his last three starts - the last two coming versus the Yankees - Gausman has thrown 19 scoreless innings, allowing 15 hits with four walks and 14 strikeouts. This run has dropped Gausman’s ERA about a half-run per game from 4.11 to 3.58.

Duquette pointed to improvement in Gausman’s secondary pitches as a key for him this year, especially recently.

“Well he’s always had the good stuff,” he said. “He’s a lot more consistent with his split-finger, he keeps his changeup down in the strike zone. His slider was a pitch he was getting hurt on earlier in the year, now he’s got better spin on that. And he’s keeping it away from the right-handed hitter.

“If you look at his entire body of work, he’s one of our top pitchers and he’s right behind (Chris) Tillman over the second half of the season. Having Bundy and Gausman fulfill the promise that the organization had when they drafted those players, that is an excellent sign for the Orioles.”

In 10 second-half starts, Gausman is 6-4 with a 2.73 ERA and 66 strikeouts over 59 1/3 innings. After recording a win in just three of his first 21 starts, Gausman is 4-0 his past four starts.

Those RISP stats: As many readers have pointed out many times, the Orioles offense is often linked to the home run ball. Get them often and the runs are plentiful. When the homers don’t come, the runs are harder to get.

But the batting with runners in scoring position stat is also a huge factor. Just look at the last two series against Toronto and New York. The Orioles went 0-for-1 with RISP Monday scoring one run and 0-for-3 Wednesday scoring three. The last two games they scored twice each against the Yankees, going 2-for-9 Saturday and 0-for-10 Sunday with RISP. Just one or two keys hits along the way could have made a big difference.

Over their last 10 games, the Orioles are 7-for-60 (.117) with RISP. They’ve scored three runs or fewer five times in those games.

For the season, the Orioles have a respectable .268 batting average with RISP to rank fifth in the American League. But for a team that hits a lot of homers but doesn’t always get them, getting a few more clutch hits in the remaining games would be big.

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