The long awaited arrival of rookie pitcher Dylan Bundy becoming a consistent member of the Orioles starting rotation is finally becoming a reality for Orioles fans.
The Dylan Bundy era began when the Baltimore Orioles drafted the right-handed pitcher with the fourth overall pick of the 2011 MLB draft. At the time he was selected, Bundy was just an 18-year-old high school baseball player for Owasso HS in Owasso, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma high school standout was 11-0 in 71 innings pitched with a 0.30 ERA and 158 strikeouts his senior year for the Owasso Rams.
Coming out of high school, Bundy was praised for his curveball and cutter along with his extraordinary body control that allowed him to maintain a 98 mph fastball late into games. After being selected fourth overall in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft in June, the Orioles made it official by signing Bundy to a Major League contract which was a five-year deal, including a $4 million signing bonus. Bundy’s bonus was the second highest in Orioles history, coming up short to the $6 million signing bonus to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters.
On March 11, 2012, the Baltimore Orioles optioned Bundy to the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Orioles Class A Minor League Baseball affiliate team. Bundy pitched 30 innings, giving up zero earned runs, and 40 strikeouts for the Shorebirds. The Orioles quickly promoted to the Frederick Keys, a Class A Advanced Affiliate team for the Baltimore Orioles. With the Keys, Bundy started 12 games with a 6-3 record and a 2.84 ERA. Finally, after a short stint with the Bowie Baysox’s, Bundy joined the Orioles in September of 2012, pitching just 1.2 innings.
After making it to the majors in 2012, the Orioles had plans for Bundy to contribute to the team in 2013, but those plans were destroyed as the 20-year-old experienced arm soreness throughout spring training. After an MRI revealed no damage in Bundy’s right elbow and undergoing treatment in April, Bundy resumed baseball activities in June. Bundy immediately felt distressed in his elbow after throwing from 120 feet. Bundy then underwent a second MRI which revealed a small tear in his elbow after attempting to resume baseball activities. According to ESPN, after being examined by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens and Dr. James Andrews, it was decided, Bundy would need Tommy John surgery on his injured right elbow.
After surgery, Bundy slowly returned in the second half of the 2014 season and threw just 22 innings over eight starts in 2015, posting a 3.68 ERA with 25 strikeouts before a strained shoulder once again sidelined him for the season. However, after another setback in 2015, Bundy found himself in the bullpen for the Baltimore Orioles to start the 2016 season. Bundy pitched well in April, providing Orioles fans with a sigh of relief as he pitched nine innings out of the bullpen with a 2.00 ERA. After an impressive April, Bundy’s ERA for May was 6.75 in 12 innings pitched and allowed at least an earned run in five of his eight relief appearances.
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With an unstable starting rotation and ranking near the bottom in the majors in team ERA, the Orioles organization announced Bundy would make his first career start against the Tampa Bay Rays following the All-Star break. However, Bundy struggled by allowing three home runs in just 3.1 innings pitched and eventually departed the game after reaching his pitch limit of 70 in a 5-2 loss at Tropicana Field. His fastball reached the mid-nineties, but Bundy showed fatigue which resulted in a dip in velocity. Despite the loss, it was an inspiring moment for the Orioles organization given the long road Bundy took to become a member of the Orioles pitching rotation.
Bundy made his second career start against the Cleveland Indians and was fantastic. Unlike his first start, Bundy displayed no signs of fatigue. In a win against the Cleveland Indians, Bundy tossed 87 pitches in five innings, not allowing an earned run with five strikeouts to capture his first career win as a starting pitcher. Bundy went on to bring a no-hitter into the sixth innings in back to back games against the Colorado Rockies and American League-leading Texas Rangers. He followed that up with two wins in 13 innings pitched and struck out 16 batters in his last two starts. As a starting pitcher this season, the blossoming right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.00 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
The Orioles initial plan coming into the season was to have Bundy pitch out of the bullpen for the entire 2016 season, allowing him to receive a full healthy season under his belt before entering the starting rotation. Fast forward to the post all-star break and Bundy now finds himself as an essential piece to the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation. In the past several weeks, Bundy has revealed the rare talent that everyone was expecting when the Orioles selected him fourth overall in the 2011 draft. From the bullpen to arguably the top starter in the Orioles rotation, Bundy may be the difference maker in the ever so close American League East Division race.