Baltimore Orioles: Concerns Over Dylan Bundy Climb, Again.
By Nick Stevens
Dylan Bundy was ineffective on Saturday afternoon, with alarming velocity numbers coming from the Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher.
Everything wasn’t sunshine and rainbows with Dylan Bundy after his previous start, coming against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 4th, but there was a bit of optimism surrounding the former first-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles. A 7 1/3 inning, shutout performance was not only Bundy’s top start of the year, but was the most dominant start of any pitcher on this Baltimore Orioles’ pitching staff in 2019.
That optimism quickly vanished yesterday. Bundy’s outing on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels wasn’t just another bad outing from a struggling pitcher trying to regain his footing, it was a bit alarming, thanks to his significantly low fastball velocity.
Bundy was removed from Saturday’s game after giving up three earned runs on four hits (two home runs, both to Albert Pujols), in five innings. He had just 80 pitches under his belt when Brandon Hyde and Doug Brocail made the decision to pull their starting pitcher. Why? His velocity.
The fifth inning began with a battle against Zack Cozart. Bundy walked him on five pitches, all four-seam fastballs. Four of those five pitches registered at just 88 mph, with the lone strike coming in at 89.7 mph on a 3-0 called strike pitch. Overall, his average fastball velocity was a season-low 89.9 mph. It was 91.3 mph in his start against Tampa Bay, and 91.8 mph in his start before that.
After watching Brandon Hyde’s post-game press conference and going back and reading MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko’s post-game story (containing every quote imaginable, as always), I’m concerned. I’m not a doctor, a pitching coach, in the clubhouse and privy to conversations or details, I’m just a fan and as a fan, I don’t have a great feeling about Dylan Bundy.
From Kubatko’s story linked above, Hyde was asked ” whether anything came up later regarding health” concerning Bundy. Hyde’s response was a simple, “no.”
Bundy’s response to a question about his down velocity- “Was it? I didn’t look at the velo. But, yeah, I noticed I was getting underneath the ball a little bit and leaving a lot of fastballs up way out of the zone.” “I wasn’t worried about it (the mound visit in the fifth inning prompted by velocity numbers) I didn’t look up there and see a problem. So I might look at a few mechanical things. But overall my arm feels great, so I’ll just keep chucking it.”
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Yes, Bundy’s velocity has dropped significantly over the years-
- 94.4 mph in 2016
- 92.2 mph in 2017
- 91.6 mph in 2018
- 90.9 mph in 2019 (including Saturday’s readings)
While Bundy doesn’t seem concerned at all, based on his post-game quotes, and Hyde trying his best to stay positive and not alarm anyone, a healthy 26-year-old starting pitcher shouldn’t see his fastball go from 91.3 mph to 89.9 mph in six days.
Maybe he was just overworked, going 7.1 innings after making it past the fifth inning once before last week’s start. His start against the Angels was a battle, falling behind early and having to carefully navigate through an LA lineup and keep his team in the game while waiting for a little offensive support, which never came after the O’s scored two runs in the bottom of the first. However, I have a hard time believing this is the reason for his performance.
Will an extra day of rest during the Orioles longest stretch of games (20-straight) this season help? Should we believe Bundy when he says it was mechanical, not health related? I don’t get a good vibe from this and wouldn’t be shocked to see a move made in the next day or two. Hopefully, if something is wrong, it’s just skipping a start for more rest and evaluation and there’s nothing serious going on.
What do you think, O’s fans? What’s your initial take on this situation? We are all concerned about Bundy’s ability to remain an effective starting pitcher at the top of a major league starting rotation, but how much more concerned are you now?