A few notes and thoughts on the Orioles road trip that ended Sunday. They went 2-4 on a homestand versus the Tigers and Giants, but the 2-4 on the road against Texas and Houston seemed better. There were six competitive games against teams that currently hold American League playoff berths.
Bundy was good again: Fans an media alike have analyzed - and probably overanalyzed - Dylan Bundy’s pitching. But for now, he’s pitching well again.
Bundy allowed four hits and three runs (two earned) over six innings on Sunday in his latest solid outing. Since pitching to an ERA of 6.67 through April, Bundy is 3-3 with an ERA of 3.02 over his past seven starts, allowing three earned runs or less each time.
After four straight starts where Bundy used his fastball less than 50 percent of the time, he was at 56 percent usage yesterday, counting four and two-seam fastballs. Yesterday, he threw 44 two-seamers that averaged 91.7 mph and topped at 93.5 mph. He added seven two-seamers for a combined 51 in 91 total pitches. In his previous four games he threw his fastballs 41, 41, 45 and 38 percent of the time.
Maybe this is what manager Brandon Hyde means by being unpredictable. Just when Houston may have thought Bundy would throw fewer fastballs and more secondary pitches, he didn’t do that. Keep ‘em guessing.
There is no right number here for Bundy and it’s really a game-to-game matchup thing and how he feels during the game in terms of his percentage of fastball use. Two big ifs and questions always apply with Bundy - can he keep the ball in the park and does he have command of his secondaries? If he gets two yes answers, he has plenty of fastball to be good.
The concern over the game when he averaged 89.8 mph on his fastball was unfounded. The concern over Bundy at all, to me, was unfounded and I said so after that game.
Yes, he once threw a lot harder. But that was years ago and he’s 90-92 mph almost every night as a starter since 2017. Nothing has changed - at least to me.
Sure, Bundy needs some things to go right out there for him to be good. But how many pitchers can say something else in that regard? Are there some that can say, ‘It doesn’t matter about my command or secondary pitches, I’ll still be good’? Not likely. Going forward, I see Bundy pitching more like the May and early June version than what we saw earlier in the year. I think the red flags and concern should be just about gone at this point.
Best run of the year for the rotation: Before the last few days, the Orioles had not had more than two straight games with quality starts all year. Now they have five in a row. The rotation ERA in that run is 3.00 and the O’s now have 17 quality starts for the season.
That is not nearly enough, but it’s encouraging to see this run through the rotation. Maybe it is one reason why it feels like the team played well on this road trip. They were in every game and played so many close games. Even if you don’t score much, like yesterday, good pitching keeps you in it.
Witt agrees to terms: High school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. has agreed to a signing bonus with the Kansas City Royals. Taken with the second pick in the draft, Witt agreed to a deal worth the full slot amount of $7,789,900, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Witt was considered the best high school player in this draft class and was second on most pre-draft boards behind only Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman. The Orioles made Rutschman the No. 1 pick in the draft Monday night. It would not be too surprising to see Rutschman soon agree to a deal with the Orioles.
I’ll guess and speculate that Rutschman will get something in the $8 million range. The slot amount for his pick this year is $8,415,300. The last two years, players taken 1/1 have signed for just over $1 million under slot in 2017 and about $600,000 under last year when Detroit took college pitcher Casey Mize. If Rutschman did get $8 million, that would not only be a first-round record, but perhaps provide some savings for the Orioles to sign their second-round pick, high school shortstop Gunnar Henderson from Selma, Ala.
Win and they’re in: Single-A Delmarva lost to Hagerstown 5-1 on Sunday, but with a Greensboro loss, the Shorebirds’ magic number to clinch first place in the first half was reduced to one with seven games to play.
At 46-16, the Shorebirds now visit the West Virginia Power with the chance to clinch the division on Monday night. Grayson Rodriguez (6-1, 2.63 ERA) will start for Delmarva against West Virginia’s Ryne Inman (5-5, 4.42 ERA). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. Delmarva is on the verge of its first playoff berth since 2005.