Dylan Bundy Is Here to Possibly Help

Few things get baseball fans more excited than the opportunity to begin taking an extraordinary young talent for granted, so baseball circles are abuzz right now with talk of the Orioles’ promotion of top prospect Dylan Bundy. It didn’t at any point appear as if Bundy would see the majors in 2012, so this news comes as a surprise, but few were also counting on the Orioles to remain in the race for this long, and now the circumstances are what the circumstances are. Suddenly, Bundy makes some good sense.

To hear the Orioles tell it, they weren’t going to call Bundy up, then Tuesday night they played the Mariners for seventy innings, so they decided to call Bundy up. It might seem short-sighted to you for the Orioles to change their plans for a top prospect because a September game went longer than expected, but for one thing, the Orioles kind of need to be short-sighted at the moment, and for another, how likely is this to stunt Bundy’s development, really? It doesn’t matter so much that the Orioles changed their plans if the difference for Dylan Bundy is small or inconsequential.

It does seem silly to alter the course of Bundy’s development because the big-league bullpen is temporarily short-handed, but consider where the Orioles are and just what they’re fighting for. They’re one behind the Yankees in the loss column in the AL East, and they’re a few games up in the wild card. The Orioles haven’t made the playoffs since 1997, and every single one of their games now is an important game. Put another way, the Orioles’ game-to-game leverage is at a season high, so little things can be big things. Even if Bundy is only a small boost on paper, maybe that’s the small boost that gets the Orioles into the one-game playoff or even beyond it. This is a critical time for the Orioles organization, and as they showed with the Manny Machado promotion, they’re looking to be aggressive in order to make this happen.

Bundy is supposedly only going to fill a bullpen role, after making 23 minor-league starts across three levels. Said Dan Duquette:

“But sometimes it’s best to have pitchers get their feet wet out of the bullpen, right? That is where he’ll go for tonight’s game and after that, Buck (Showalter) will decide how he wants to utilize his skill. He’s worked hard to put himself in this position, there is a need and he’s on the roster.”

Obviously, Bundy is viewed as a starter long-term. Obviously, right now the Orioles aren’t thinking so much about the long-term. They had a sudden need, they had a potential in-system solution, and now the Orioles will see what Bundy can do.

And that’s really what this is about. Bundy’s just 19 and he’s hardly pitched above single-A, so he doesn’t immediately stand out as an obvious plug, but evaluators have long believed that he throws major-league stuff, and major-league stuff can play well in the major leagues. If Bundy makes an appearance or three and struggles, well, so be it, maybe that should’ve been expected. If Bundy commands his pitches and flourishes, he could help the Orioles in September, and he could help the Orioles in October, since he’s eligible for the playoff roster. (Though he wasn’t on the 25-man roster before August 31, the Orioles have pitchers on the DL that Bundy could replace.)

Dave Cameron suggested that Bundy could get the Matt Moore treatment. Moore made three appearances with the Rays last September, and he was good enough that he got onto the playoff roster, from which he threw ten innings in the ALDS. No one with the Orioles is going to get ahead of themselves, but Bundy could well be important over the next handful of weeks.

So just what does Bundy throw, if you don’t already know? Here’s Dave on Bundy from April, and here’s Kiley McDaniel on Bundy from May. He’s got a fastball in the mid- to high-90s, a dynamite curve, a quality changeup, and a cutter that the Orioles won’t allow Bundy to throw right now. There was a Bundy pitch that was making the Internet rounds a few weeks ago. Here is a .gif of it.

(video source)

That’s just one pitch, but it speaks to the whole Dylan Bundy experience, at least when he has his command. When Bundy is spotting his pitches reasonably well, he’s nigh unhittable. Every pitcher is better when he’s locating his pitches, but an on-point Bundy has as high a ceiling as anyone.

Bundy did end up getting challenged after he was finished embarrassing low-A. He allowed a .304 OBP with Frederick and a .319 OBP with double-A Bowie. In three starts with Bowie, Bundy posted eight walks and 13 strikeouts. But we’re talking about three starts, and we’re talking about three starts from a guy with the pitches noted above. We can’t conclude much of anything from Bundy’s double-A performance, and in the immediate, his stuff could even conceivably play up as a reliever. Add a few ticks to Bundy’s velocity and he’ll have more of a margin of error with his command.

The Orioles promoted Machado from double-A when he had a .789 OPS, and in the majors he’s posted a .708 OPS. Position-player adjustments are more predictable, because position players are always reacting to pitchers. Pitcher adjustments are less predictable, because they’re the ones making players react to them. Bundy certainly isn’t as intelligent about pitching as he will be down the road, but his stuff is phenomenal, and if he’s locating it, he’ll get hitters out, no matter how good they are. All of the weapons are there, which means Bundy just has to throw his pitches more or less where he wants to.

As we learned from the Trevor Bauer experience, immediate big-league success for pitching prospects with awesome stuff isn’t automatic. We can’t simply assume that Bundy will get the job done, and the Orioles will certainly be cautious. For now, I think it’s safe to say the Orioles aren’t counting on Bundy for much of anything down the stretch, and they’ll see what happens. But the potential is there for Bundy to be a big help, as far as the Orioles getting to the playoffs is concerned, and as far as the Orioles succeeding in the playoffs is concerned. Weapons don’t get much more potent.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

16 Responses to “Dylan Bundy Is Here to Possibly Help”

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  1. Slats says:

    David Price of 2008 anyone?

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  2. Preston says:

    At the beginning of the season this promotion would have seemed far fetched. But after the season he’s had in the minors I think he’s played his way onto the roster. The minor league season is over, he’s not skipping starts. He was pitched effectively in AA, and there is every reason to believe that as a one inning reliever he can make an impact.

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  3. Matt says:

    I just came.

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  4. liam says:

    Bundy had the makeup to pitch in the majors, and the stuff. I don’t think he’d be an effective starter right now, but as a reliever could easily be very solid. Considering they want him for mop up or long relief, he’s got a decent margin for error. Any time you can watch someone who’s literally never struggled, at any level, and never even had a really bad game, play at the highest level, its fun to watch.

    Think about that. Kids literally never had a bad game, at least by most peoples’ standards. Cant wait.

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  5. OSG says:

    Wow, I’m pretty sure that batter thought he was about to get hit in the head

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  6. James says:

    The Orioles look pretty smart for using those almost ridiculous innings limits with Bundy at the start of the year. He could easily pitch out of the bullpen, or even start a game or two, and not hit his innings limit.

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  7. baty says:

    Even if the results don’t end up reflecting so, Bundy has to be better than at least a third of MLB relief pitchers out there right now. It’s worth a shot, cause he might be much better than that. I can’t see any negative repercussions for his development if the the Orioles keep things simple and establish some sort of consistency with his role.

    The early season gaudiness of his MILB numbers for the season was based on his limited number of times he went through a lineup per game. For the most part he didn’t see a batter more than twice a game until midseason. He’s been barely a 5 inning pitcher, yet to get to batter #25 while starting a game. I can’t see him going more than 1-2 innings per appearance.

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    • everdisco says:

      “Bundy has to be better than at least a third of MLB pitchers out there right now.”

      Really? Only a third? Based on his minor league numbers, I would put him in the top one third of all pitchers in the history of ever.

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  8. Nayr Mit says:

    Hold on…he has not pitched in a game since August 28. He was not on the Fall League Roster. Has he been throwing pens on the side somewhere? Most guys don’t even pick up a ball for a while after the season. I assume that he must have been continuing with some sort of throwing program. Does anyone have any information on this?

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  9. Nayr Mit says:

    Disregard last comment…he has pitched more recently. The last ten games section on milb.com lists August 28 as his last start when he pitched on September 6.

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  10. Dave in GB says:

    A few innings can’t hurt if hes just used as a stop gap. I can’t imagine Showalter using him in a high leverage situation right out the gate. At this point, I won’t question any move Duquette or Showalter has made

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  11. TKDC says:

    It seems that a lot of top prospects have made jumps to the majors much quicker than a lot of the experts thought they would. I think ETA predictions need to be recalibrated to reflect this going forward.

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