Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy has been one of the top pitching prospects on the team for some time. Last year, he finally showed some of that potential, but he needs his cut fastball to really take a step forward.
Baltimore Orioles fans have been well-aware of the saga of Dylan Bundy. He was, for awhile, the number two prospect in all of baseball, essentially what Lucas Giolito was considered at the start of last year.
But injuries plagued him and many fans lost hope of him ever really fulfilling that top starter potential. Luckily though, things have been looking up for Bundy and he spent a lot of last year starting for the Baltimore Orioles.
Bundy ended the season last year having started 14 games with a 4.02 ERA on the year and a 1.38 WHIP. Now you may look at those stats and think “Why is there any cause for optimism?” That’s understandable. But I think there is, because Bundy showed some real flashes of brilliance.
Now I’m not going to argue that Bundy got unlucky last year or anything, he didn’t. His FIP was 4.70, his xFIP was 4.61, his BABIP was .299, it all checks out. Bundy’s 4.02 ERA last year is exactly how he pitched.
So what’s Bundy’s problem? It’s partially his pitch arsenal. Bundy’s pitch set was three pitches last year: a fastball (61.5%), a curveball (18.4%) and a changeup (20.1%).
Here’s a look at Bundy’s fastball:
All three of those pitches are good to very good pitches. Bundy gets a lot of movement on his fastball and it can get up to 98 MPH on occasion. Coupled with a good changeup and a good curveball, and he’s got a nice set of pitches.
But there’s a problem: once Bundy gets through the lineup a couple times, hitters pick up on him.
Last season, through his first look at the lineup, Bundy’s strikeout rate was 29%. By the time he hit the third time through the lineup, his strikeout rate was 15%. That’s a differential of 14.8%, good for the fourth highest in the league.
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To take it even further, the first time through the lineup, Bundy’s FIP was 3.61, but the third time through the lineup, it was 9.30. That’s a 5.69 FIP differential, the worst in the league.
Bundy’s stuff is very good, but he needs another pitch to keep hitters on their toes. The good news is, Bundy throws an excellent cut fastball. It’s graded on his scouting report as a plus pitch, and in 2011, Baseball America referred to it as a “third plus fastball.”
So why hasn’t he been throwing it? Because for some dumb reason, the Baltimore Orioles (really it’s Dan Duquette) don’t like cut fastballs, so it was taken out of his arsenal.
But it seems like that’s changing. The Orioles have a new pitching coach in Roger McDowell, and when we asked him at FanFest about the team’s dislike of cutters, he said that the team would “treat each pitcher like an individual.”
There’s also been news that Bundy has actually been working on his cut fastball this offseason. If that pitch can be as good as it was scouted at, and he can develop it and locate it, then Bundy could be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Bundy’s other issue is locating his curveball. While the curveball garnered the largest strikeout rate of his entire pitching arsenal (38.5%) it also had the lowest rate of pitches in the strikezone (37.9%).
If Bundy can locate his curveball, an add that cut fastball to his pitching arsenal, then 2017 could be the breakout year for a pitcher who used to be one of the top prospects in all of baseball. We can only hope.