Since being drafted fourth overall back in 2011 by the Baltimore Orioles, right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy has had quite the rocky road to the majors. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013 at the age of 20 and has dealt with additional elbow and shoulder tightness during his recovery. Bundy totaled just 65 innings over the last two seasons combined while the organization made sure not to push him beyond a comfortable limit while he built up arm strength. Now at the age of 23, Bundy has been promoted back into the Orioles starting rotation in a season where he can contribute to a winning team and a possible division title. The young righty had the best start of his young career last week against the A.L. Central leading Cleveland Indians, so let’s break down Dylan Bundy’s July 22nd with 12 HD GIFs.
But before we do that, let’s take a quick look at his strikezone plot from the outing:
As you can probably guess from the look of things, Bundy didn’t have very strong command of his Fastball. It was erratic and out of sync with Bundy’s delivery for most of the outing. Dylan struggled to locate the Fastball on the arm-side of the plate as well as up in the zone. The Changeup was Bundy’s best friend in this start. It was his money pitch and he stuck with it when he had nothing else to lean on. His control was exceptional with the Change – landing a majority of them right on the arm-side at the knees. The Curveball seemed to make an early exit from this start after looking pretty good in the first inning. Bundy had a tough time throwing it for strikes and hitters weren’t chasing it out of the zone when he was ahead. This is all communicated much better with visual aids, however, so let’s get to the fun part!
Of the 87 pitches Bundy threw, 48 (55.2% usage) of them were Fastballs. While he did manage to get 6 whiffs on 21 swings at the pitch, Bundy landed just 27 (56.2%) of them for strikes. He gets good velocity on the heater though as he averaged an impressive 95.8mph while topping out at 97.3mph.
A solid look at what the Orioles righty offers in his Fastball is this 96mph 2-2 offering he froze Mike Napoli with for the called third strike to end the third inning:
The command issues Bundy was having on the Fastball can be seen during that same at-bat. Take a look at where Dylan’s catcher, Caleb Joseph, sets up to receive this 94mph Fastball and just how far he has to reach back across his body to keep it from heading to the backstop:
When he was able to hit his spots, the Fastball made some hitters look silly. Bundy was able to fool Juan Uribe with this 95mph on the outside corner that generated a weak swing and a miss to end the fourth inning:
There’s also quite a bit of natural Two-Seam action to Bundy’s Fastball – as is seen with this 96mph pitch that just keeps riding inside and right by the bat of Napoli for another strikeout:
Dylan was gifted the strikeout call with this next offering, but the action he gets on it is indicative of the potential his Fastball possesses. Bundy gets good front door action on this 96mph Fastball that gets Francisco Lindor looking for the punchout:
The Fastball was wild last Friday and Bundy never fully had control of it. He was missing his spots frequently and struggled to find his rhythm with the heater. It’s not too often that a pitcher throws five scoreless innings when they’re having a hard time figuring out their Fastball, but Bundy was able to do it. The increased velocity and natural tailing action helped to aid him and his Fastball en route to a victory over Cleveland.
Bundy threw just 13 Curveballs (15% usage) on Friday with only 6 of them being strikes. He earned just 1 whiff on 5 swings at the pitch. Dylan’s Curveball averaged 78.2mph and maxed out at 80.3mph.
The Curveball was off to a great start in the outing, as we see here with this 75mph dandy that Napoli watched go by for a first pitch strike:
Bundy doubled up on the Curveball with the next pitch to Napoli, and got an understandable whiff at this nasty 76mph 0-1 offering:
Dylan started to lose his command of the Curve as the game went on, and hitters weren’t biting at the pitch when it wasn’t thrown for a strike. In the GIF we see two separate instances of Juan Uribe laying off the Curve in the dirt with two strikes on back-to-back pitches:
It was disappointing to see just 13 Curveballs from Bundy in this start, as I’m selfish and absolutely in love with Bundy’s bender. I used to hear stories of this top prospect in Baltimore who had an unhittable Curveball and dreamed of the time when I’d get to witness it in the big leagues. I can see why the stories started to surface though. It’s a great pitch when located within the strikezone. Nasty sharp break with a sexy arc of depth to it. Bundy simply couldn’t spot it for strikes and hitters were laying off it when he tried to get them to chase it out of the zone.
Bundy tossed 26 Changeups (29.9% usage) with an astonishing 22 (84.6%) of them landing for strikes. Much like his Fastball, Dylan racked up 6 whiffs in 21 swings at the Changeup while averaging 86.5mph and topping out at 88.0mph with the pitch.
Hitters like Francisco Lindor are forced to respect the plus-Fastball velocity, and in turn are made to look stupid on fine Changeups like this 84mph offering Bundy hurls for the swinging strike:
Unlike the Curveball, hitters were chasing the Changeup outside the zone. Bundy gets some real nice vertical dip with this 85mph Changeup that Chris Gimenez whiffs at in a 1-0 count expecting a Fastball:
My favorite Changeup in the outing was one that was actually called a ball. The home plate ump somehow misses this strikeout call on a perfectly placed 86mph Change that beautifully paints the outside black on Abraham Almonte:
The Changeup was without question Bundy’s best pitch during his Friday start. Not only does it bring wicked movement, but Bundy had complete control over where the pitch was going. When the Fastball wasn’t working, Dylan would lean on the Changeup. It induced a key double play and recorded multiple whiffs and ugly looks from hitters. Throughout all of 2016, Bundy is even on usage (18.5%) with the Curve and Change, so he likely just lost feel for the Curve during this outing and stuck with what was working. The Changeup is a great pitch for any pitcher to have, but it would be even more effective than it already is if Bundy enhances his Fastball command.
Final line: 5.0 IP, 5 Hs, 0 ER, 0 BBs, 5 Ks, W. 87 pitches (55 strikes), 8/20 first pitch strikes
It’s great to see someone who has fought so hard to keep a dream alive come through with a performance like Dylan Bundy did on Friday. Tommy John and arm worries that have cost him valuable development time during his tenure with the Orioles and he’s finally back on the bump for this big league club. He was able to shut down a very good Indians team through five innings of work while never having good command of his Fastball.
The first pitch strikes (or lack thereof) are a direct result of the problematic control with the Fastball. Bundy was working from behind a lot. The exceptional Changeup saved the outing for the Orioles righty as he was able to depend on it when he needed to escape with runners on base. It was just Bundy’s second start since being promoted from his relief roll, so it’s understandable that he could still be working out the kinks of extended outings. The stuff is certainly there to get major league hitters out consistently, it’s just up to Bundy to hone in on his command.
Buck Showalter has mentioned that innings won’t be a limiting factor in his decision to keep Bundy in the starting rotation. As long as his health holds up, the former top pick will be in line to finally help the team that drafted him back in 2011 during a playoff run. A chance to turn a dream into a reality.
Seeing as the Changeup was Bundy’s best offering on Friday, let’s end this GIF breakdown with another doozy of a Change. Bundy pulls the string on this 86mph Changeup that has Carlos Santana thinking Fastball all the way until it’s too late:
Ian Post contributes for Pitcher List and grew up on the game of baseball by playing year-round through adolescence and pitching in college before finding his love for writing about the sport. When he isn’t providing pitching analysis, he can be found faithfully rooting for the Mariners, watching Game of Thrones, and searching for a new favorite IPA in the Pacific Northwest. You can follow Ian on Twitter @TheDonGiggity