After two full seasons in the majors and one as a full-time starter, Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy has moved up the rotation depth chart. The 25-year-old Bundy is No. 1 or No. 2 right now. He can count like the rest of us and realizes the club has two - and only two - established starters locked into the rotation at the moment.
He, like the rest of us, is waiting to find out who will join him in the starting five when the season starts.
“Yeah, definitely,” Bundy said during an interview at FanFest. “We have no idea, so, definitely looking forward to it. But we’ve got some guys that have been there before and started games for us. We know they’ll compete in spring and Kevin (Gausman) and I will be competing. It should be a fun spring training.”
Bundy went 13-9 with an ERA of 4.24 last year over 28 starts and 169 2/3 innings. He went 6-5 with a 3.80 ERA in 14 starts within the American League East and he tied for eighth in the AL with 19 quality starts.
Now he has had a winter to prepare to try and throw even more innings in 2018.
“Basically just knowing my body and knowing what I have to do to prepare for a 162-game season,” he said. “It’s a long season and I found that out at the end of the year. Just have to pace myself this offseason and know what I have to do going into spring training.
“I started throwing about a week or two later than I have in the past. Because that was the most innings I’ve ever thrown in a single season. So I haven’t thrown as much but about ready to get on the bump in spring.”
Bundy improved many of his stats from 2016 to 2017. He lowered his WHIP from 1.377 to 1.196, his hits allowed per nine innings from 8.9 to 8.1 and his walk rate from 3.4 to 2.7. He improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio from 2.48 to 2.98.
He did give up 1.4 homers for every nine innings after 1.5 in 2016. That is on the high side. His homer/flyball rate was 11.5. That is the rate of fly balls, 11.5 percent, he allows that go over the fence. That ranked 11th in the AL among 23 qualifying starting pitchers in 2017 and was down from 13.3 the season before. The AL leader last season in homer/flyball rate was Andrew Cashner at 8.5.
Bundy was asked what it means to him to be at or near the top of the rotation. Did it change anything about his offseason work?
“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve come this far as far as the injuries and stuff like that and am finally in a position where I can go out there and compete healthy the first day of spring training. I’m excited to see what this year has to come.
“I mean, I just want to go into spring training healthy and ready to go. Get my pitches where they need to be come spring and work on things during spring to get ready for the long season ahead.”
Bundy said he analyzed his 2017 season at some length as soon as it ended. He came up with a few observations.
“I think every pitcher does that. In between every single start, too, you look at what you can do better. And you look at the year as a whole. You try to take that into your workouts, your throwing and heading into spring with those thoughts.
“Every pitcher works on fastball command, I think that is the biggest thing. But I think I got away from my curveball and changeup a little bit. I think everyone could see that with how much I threw my slider. So that is one of the things I’ll be working on, the curveball and changeup.”
Bundy threw his fastball 54 percent of the time last season, while using his slider 22 percent, his changeup 14 percent and his curveball 10 percent. Of course, he re-introduced the cutter/slider into his repertoire last season after not using the pitch the season before over concerns it might have on his surgically-repaired elbow. But using the pitch passed all tests in 2017 and Bundy gave up an average against of just .174 off his slider last summer. But his average against on his curve was even better at .167 while the number was .229 off his changeup and .288 against his fastball.
Now he heads into a new season armed with a solid four-pitch mix to try and take his game to a new level. And while he waits to find out who will join him in the starting five beginning March 29.