Dylan Bundy has been a bright spot for a team that has struggled mightily in the starting pitching department for much of the season. Entering Tuesday night’s game at Fenway Park, Bundy’s ERA sits at a respectable 3.82. The Orioles are 6-5 in the 11 games Bundy has started since joining the rotation after a strong first half in the bullpen.
Now, all of a sudden, a combination of Bundy, Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, and Ubaldo Jimenez looks like a pretty solid potential postseason rotation. Gausman looks like he is finally (please, this time?) turning a corner and pitching like we all know he can. Tillman, on Sunday, returned from the DL to build upon a very impressive season by turning in six innings of one-run ball. Jimenez, much to the surprise of Orioles fans, has been very, very good of late.
Entering the season, the O’s were kind of in limbo with Bundy. He was essentially a Rule-5 guy in the sense that the O’s would lose him if he was not on the 25-man roster. Buck Showalter had another Jason Garcia-type situation on his hands.
He started out in the bullpen and was very impressive. Despite the original plan to limit Bundy to around 70 innings for this season, the O’s threw him into the rotation as a bit of a “what do we have to lose” maneuver.
Although Bundy has been a solid member of the rotation and a very important piece to a playoff-hopeful puzzle of a team, he’s up to 94.1 innings pitched (again, before Tuesday night’s game) and is beginning to show signs of fatigue. His fastball, which topped out at 96-97 MPH for his first few starts, is now sitting around 92-93 and as low as 90. He has struggled with control recently, too. Bundy has walked the same number of hitters (13) in his past four starts (19.1 IP) as he did in his previous 12 appearances (49 IP). In addition, Bundy’s last five starts have included three sub-five inning efforts in which he surrendered five earned runs apiece.
Not only do these numbers cause me to worry about his effectiveness for the remainder of the season and hopefully into the playoffs, but I’m also concerned about his health going forward. Bundy has been adamant that he feels no pain in his shoulder or his surgically-repaired elbow, but 94.1 innings is a lot for a guy who only threw 63.1 innings over the past three seasons combined.
Meanwhile, Vance Worley has been solid enough as a long man out of the bullpen that I think he deserves an opportunity to start a few games down the stretch. Bundy and Worley could essentially swap roles, allowing Bundy to continue pitching but in a more limited capacity. Not only will this help ease Bundy’s arm into the offseason, it will give The Vanimal a shot to prove his worth. The husky right-hander, just 28 years old, is currently eligible for arbitration entering the 2017 season.
As much as I love Dylan Bundy and believe he will be a dominant starter next year and beyond, I think it’s time to tap the breaks on his season. The success of the team and Quadzilla’s long-term health is at stake.
Don’t even get me started on Wade Miley.