Baltimore Orioles: Dylan Bundy Puts Exclamation Point On 2019
Dylan Bundy put in a dominant performance for the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, capping off an improved season on the mound.
By most standards, a 7-14 season with a 4.59 ERA isn’t a season worth writing home about for a major league starting pitcher sitting atop of a rotation. But if Tuesday night was the last time Dylan Bundy takes the mound for the Baltimore Orioles in 2019, we can call this season a success for the former first-round draft pick who was once considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.
Last night in Toronto, Bundy recorded his 10th quality start of the season, giving up two runs on three hits across seven innings. He needed just 86 pitches to get through the outing and received a small gift from his offense in eight runs of support, something Bundy hasn’t seen a lot of in 2019. Baltimore would go on to win by a final score of 11-4, giving Bundy his seventh win of the year.
Tuesday night was a bit of a different story for the Orioles starter, after facing the Blue Jays for the second time in a week. In his last outing, Bundy needed 106 pitches to get through five innings of work. While he allowed only one run on five hits and struck out eight, he did walk five Blue Jay hitters, the most walks allowed by Bundy since his first start of the season back on March 31 in New York against the Yankees.
Heading into the offseason and knowing that Bundy will likely get another opportunity to stick in the starting rotation in 2020, it’s important to view Bundy for what he is now and celebrate his small victories, such as his impressive finish to the season over his last four starts and the adjustments he has made to accommodate his decreased fastball velocity.
We have looked at his different pitch usage this season in an earlier post and it’s largely led to some success. Location is still an issue, especially leaving meatballs over the heart of the plate, but that’s something that can be worked on in the offseason and in spring training.
If Tuesday was his last action in 2019, Bundy finished the month of September with four starts, a 1-1 record, 3.80 ERA, a .239 batting average against, and 24 strikeouts in 23.2 innings.
In 10 fewer innings compared to 2018, Bundy has lowered his season ERA from 5.45 to 4.79, lowered his average against from .274 to .256, and lowered his WHIP from 1.41 to 1.35. After leading the majors in home runs allowed last season, Bundy has slashed his home run rate from 2.15 to 1.63. That’s still a high number, but a notable decrease when you consider the utter destruction of home run records which are taking place across baseball, including the Baltimore Orioles staff approaching 300 long balls allowed this year.
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Opponents are finding the barrel less often against him this year, compared to last year (5.7% in 2019, lower than the league average mark of 6.3%) and he’s done a much better job of keeping the ball on the ground, increasing his groundball rate from 34.8% to 42.1%.
Put it all together and Dylan Bundy has been worth 2.4 Wins Above Replacement, according to Fangraphs, falling just short of his career-high mark of 2.8 fWAR which he set in 2017. Actually, Fangraphs hasn’t updated with Tuesday’s numbers at the time of this writing, so that 2.4 number should be a bit higher after his performance last night.
Dylan Bundy wasn’t great in 2019, but he was an improved pitcher from the guy we saw in 2018. I’ve said it many times before and will say it again, improvements such as these were all that mattered this season. He may not have done enough to place full confidence in him just yet, but he did enough to head into 2020 with a bit of optimism surrounding him.
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