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Going Deep: The Once and Future Bundy

Nicklaus Gaut examines the evolution of former flamethrower Dylan Bundy, and whether or not this Dylan's times will ever be a-changin'.

The overall number four pick in the 2011 draft, there have been many reasons to follow the career of Baltimore Oriole Dylan Bundy. Perhaps you’re a fan of watching as the potential of an ace attempts to transmute into the reality of one. Or perhaps your interest has been focused on Bundy’s fantasy potentialwith him endlessly being heralded as almost ready to finally break out for good…Maybe. Or perhaps you’re just a fan of Oriole’s baseballwhich until being hired at Pitcher List, this author did not know was still a thing*and just want your sweet Dylan to finally start cashing some checks from the bank of talent that you know exists. But to follow Bundy is to follow the rollercoaster. The ups and downs from year to year and game to game; the ups and downs from inning to inning, and from out to out.

*Please don’t fire me. I’ll be good.

In 2019, who is Dylan Bundy? An ace-in-waiting still? Or just another young arm derailed by injuries, who’ll never reach the heights which were portended by his talent? Before we can get to whether or not the science of Bundy has been settled, we must at least recognize the Bundys we’ve known beforein order to better understand the Bundy that we now have.


The Bundy That Was Promised


For almost every one of the eight years since Bundy was selected number-four overall by the Baltimore Orioles, everyone lines up to hope and declare that this is the year.

“This is the year he makes it to the bigs.”

“This is the year he stays healthy.”

“This is the year he puts it all together.”

“This is the year I finally divorce him.”

A precocious high schooler out of Oklahoma, Bundy had the repertoire of a future acefour pitches, ranging from good to great. A changeup and curveball that both had plus potential, a cutter no one could hit. And the crown jewel—Easy 99 mph heat that he could dial up to triple-digits. After being drafted, Bundy announced his presence to the pro game by overwhelming low-A batters with that same aces’ repertoire, giving Baltimore no choice but to promote him to High-A after only 8 games. I wonder why?


Orioles (High A) 8 30 40 40.4 2.0 .053 0.23 0.00 1.31


From there, it was on to high-A, then to Double-Aboth posing more resistance than his initial assignment, but not enough to keep the Orioles from giving him a cup of coffee in September 2012, where he appeared twice in relief. While the Orioles would ultimately leave him off the playoff roster** that season, the offseason brought hope and excitement that a 20-year old Bundy would be soon competing for a starting spot. Because even though he had only gotten five outs out at the major league level, the talent underneath spoke of much more to come.

Bundy wouldn’t pitch again in the majors until April 2016.

**This is not a typo, as some younger readers may assume. The Orioles of Baltimore actually made the playoffs not only in 2012 but in 2014 as well! They probably count 2016 too, but no one else does…Ok, I’m definitely fired now.


The Bundy That Was Broken


It was the dreaded Tommy John which took him first, Bundy finally undergoing surgery in June after first feeling soreness in the spring of 2013. He came back in the summer of ’14, pitching 24 innings at High-A before a strained lat shut him down for the rest of the year. After dealing with commonplace injuries before, it was a bizarre one which cost him 2015a condition where his shoulder over-calcified, which limited Bundy to only 22 innings at Double-A before his season ended in May.

Bundy was finally back in 2016supposedly healthy and pain-free. He began the year by throwing out of the bullpen before moving back to the rotation after the All-Start break. He was…OK?


Role GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 HR/FB% ERA xFIP K%
Relief 0 38 7.58 2.84 0.71 5.8 3.08 4.93 19.2
Starter 14 71.2 9.04 3.77 1.88 18.1 4.52 4.45 23.5


But after spending essentially three seasons on the shelf, a healthy Bundy was as important as the results. Of note, howeverand impossible to ignore for any follower of Bundy’s careerwas the 1.88 HR/9, a number that was third-worst among starters over the same period.

Also of note, was what Bundy was throwing. We don’t know who took whatwhether it was the injuries or Baltimore player developmentbut we do know what was taken:


2016 % MPH K% BB% CSW%
4 Seam 61.4 94.4 19.1 10.2 22.0
Change 20.0 85.3 24.0 4.1 30.8
Curve 18.4 76.8 33.3 6.3 33.4


The elite velocity had not completely left in 2016with 21% of his fastballs still eclipsing 95mphbut it was the beginning of the end. And by 2017, the writing was on the wall, with only 0.5% (or 15 pitches) eclipsing 95 mph. The decline has been steady and steep since with Bundy’s fastball thus far with it only averaging 91.1mph in 2019.



The cutter was nowhere to be found in 2016which given that it was supposedly Bundy’s best pitch coming out of high schoolwas surprising. But given General Manager Dan Duquette’s feelings on the pitch, it probably shouldn’t have been surprising at all.  And regardless of manager Buck Showalter’s assertations that the pitch wasn’t being shelved permanently, it was never seen again. At least as it had been.


Bundy 2.0


“This is his first year with a starter’s workload…This is the year Dylan Bundy breaks out!”

 – Every one of his dynasty owners

Entering 2017, hopes were high for the former first-round pick as Bundy looked to be finally capable of a full season of starting. He had lost some of the velocity and he had lost the fabled cutter but Bundy had received an upgradde – that’s right, with two D’s. No, I’m not talking about the new sinker that he began throwing to middling results.

Call it a slideror a slider/cutter hybrid as Bundy doesbut labels don’t matter when it came to this piece of “aerodynamic filth.” After showing it in a limited amount in spring training, Bundy debuted his new weapon for real in his first start of 2017, against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bundy threw his fancy new slide-piece six times in the first inninginducing swinging strikes on five of themon his way to striking out the side, with Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista both going down waving at the pitch. Bundy rode his slider in that first start—throwing it for 32 of 99 pitches, with 15 swinging strikesto eight strikeouts over seven impressive innings. As previously noted: Nas. Tee.

All in all, the slider experiment was a rousing success:


2017 % BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA K% BB%
Slider 33.7% .079 .143 .252 .214 .215 .187 45.8 6.1
Slider 10.3% .158 .174 .237 .321 .206 .245 36.6 7.3

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

So, by adding the slider and aforementioned sinker to Bundy’s three pitches from 2016, we now had a solid idea of what a post-injuries Bundy 2.o would look like going forward.


Four Seam Fastball


4 Seam % MPH BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA K%
2016 63.0% 94.5 .302 .276 .476 .446 .378 .361 21.8
2017 44.0% 92.4 .260 .277 .450 .535 .339 .381 14.9
2016 60.0% 94.3 .250 .240 .433 .437 .333 .333 16.2
2017 45.0% 91.9 .250 .251 .411 .454 .318 .344 19.9

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

Once his greatest talent, it was obvious that the heater was now a moderate flame, with the fastball losing another two-mph from the previous year. Along with the velocity drop, the usage had also dropped from 62% in 2016 to 44% in 2017.




2016 23.4% 76.9 .146 .121 .171 .136 .163 .141 39.5
2017 6.8% 74.9 .176 .220 .412 .414 .241 .270 23.5
2016 13.4% 76.5 .333 .306 .389 .402 .351 .350 20.0
2017 14.1% 74.3 .160 .211 .360 .295 .205 .233 11.5

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

Without the slider in 2016, Bundy’s curveball had been a powerful pitchparticularly to right-handers, against whom Bundy had almost a 40% K-rate. In 2017,  the hook was still an effective pitchbut was being thrown 2 mph slower and markedly less often, with the new slider eating up its usage. It was still an effective pitch to left-handers, but it’s dominance against righties had certainly changed from the previous year, with the K-rate dropping 16 points, with the xwOBA and xSLG respectively doubling and tripling.




Change % MPH BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA K%
2016 13.4% 85.4 .250 .266 .594 .601 .387 .399 25.0
2017 8.2% 83.6 .276 .250 .621 .477 .387 .338 18.2
2016 26.6% 85.2 .238 .260 .452 .381 .294 .282 23.5
2017 19.2% 83.6 .218 .242 .385 .420 .261 .302 9.6

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

Along with the curve, Bundy’s change was the other pitch whose usage was eaten up by the 2017 slider addition, as it dropped from 20% in 2016 to 13.5%. We’ll talk more about this later, but the change has some real issues—at least to right-handers. Nevertheless, even with the decreased usage, the changeup remained part of his arsenal, being thrown 13.5% of the time.




Sinker % MPH BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA K%
2017 7.8 91.9 .206 .297 .471 .591 .300 .392 11.1
2017 11.7 .91.7 .588 .444 1.059 .882 .688 .583 4.9

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

New to 2017along with the devastating sliderthe sinker was…not the slider, getting smacked around by left-handers in particular. Apparently, Bundy’s arsenal is like the Force; for every good, there must be an equal and opposite bad.*** Also, keep in mind the state of baseball in 2017. The Launch-Angle Revolution was arriving, and the sinker was going extinct (or is it, ex-sink-t?..Bah-ha-ha…I slay me). Regardless,  Bundy was throwing it about 10% of the time, which meant 10% of the time batters had a chance to smash a baseball into oblivion, with the sinker giving up a higher wOBA, xwOBA, SLG, and xSLG than any of his other pitches.

***For those who wish to continue this metaphor, the sinker wouldn’t be Darth Vader or anything, but like Count Dooku, or Darth Maul maybe? The slider is Luke. Obs.

While not the rousing success that was maybe hoped for, Bundy’s first full season as a starter, was just that: a full season as a starter. Twenty-eight starts and 170 inningsbut more importantly, zero catastrophic injuries. His arm didn’t fall off, no weird bone-wings tried to grow on his shoulder. And while some of his results looked lackluster, the addition of that nasty slider had not gone unnoticed and optimism ran high that 2018 would be the year of the Bundy and the promises whispered all the way back in 2011.

And then?


The Bundy That Was Promised II: Wreck-oning


This was the year. As a player in real life and as a fantasy player on our fake teams, this was the year when Bundy would start cashing those talent checks. Dynasty players who had refused to give up, keeping him year after year after year**** would finally reap the rewards, looking like a genius in return. Reap, we said…Reap!

****cough – definitely not me – cough-cough

Something was certainly reaped. Though rewards, they were not; as fantasy ownersand Orioles fanswere probably hoping for more than:


2018 31 171.2 8 16 5.45 1.41 184


Welp. So, what happened? Or rather, did something happen?


2017 169 152 11.4 .273 11.5 4.24 4.38 4.77 4.45
2018 171 184 12.7 .316 17.8 5.45 5.17 4.28 .394


In 2018, Bundy had more strikeouts in virtually the same number of innings, which was supported by increases in K-rate and his swinging-strike rate. His groundball and hard-contact rates also both improved by two points, and while his ERA was over a run higher than in 2017, his xFIP and SIERRA were both a half-run better.

So, what gives? For one, there’s the six-point increase in his HR/FB% and 3/4-run jump in FIP. Dongs, baby. Dongs. But we’ll get to those shortly. But to see where 2018 failedand where 2019 is failingwe need to go back to Bundy’s pitch-mix. Because sometimes it seems like Dan Duquette is calling it in from the booth.


2018 (mph) Usage  BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA K% GB%
4-Seam (91.7) 47% .269 .285 .586 .555 .384 .385 16.0 27.9
4-Seam (91.4) 49% .333 .318 .566 .578 .416 .414 10.1 24.8
Slider (81.5) 40% .155 .110 .348 .174 .227 .144 53.7 49.3
Slider (81.1) 12% .245 .158 .434 .266 .316 .217 54.4 31.8
Curve (74.6) 4% .333 .359 .833 .815 .485 .487 16.7 20.0
Curve (74.5) 13% .440 .357 .600 .574 .448 .397 24.0 36.8
Change (83.8) 3% .700 .455 1.500 .981 .920 .607 0.0 50.0
Change (83.7) 17% .312 .285 .623 .504 .423 .374 15.1 48.4
Sinker (91.8) 6% .269 .213 .385 .259 .311 .242 7.1 58.3
Sinker (91.4) 10% .286 .278 .464 .525 .355 .374 0.0 27.6

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

One of the most frustrating things about Bundy is that he has the pitches to turn lineups over multiple times. And pitches to get out right-handers as well as pitches to get out lefthanders. But he also has some pitches that seem to have almost zero value, depending on the splits. And yet, they are thrown. And they are hammered. Remember when I said that his sinker wasn’t quite the Darth Vader to his slider’s Luke Skywalker? That’s because Vader is reserved for Bundy’s changeup to right-handers in 2018. If it doesn’t hurt your eyes, take a look at the 1.500 SLG and .920 wOBA it gave up in 2018. I felt sorry for him so I didn’t even list the 98.7 mph average exit velocity on the pitch which was 6 mph higher than any of his other pitches.  I don’t care about low-usage; every pitch countsespecially when you’re a home run- prone, fly-ball pitcher who calls the Camden Yards bandbox home and plays in the offensively packed AL East.

So, where does that leave us in 2019? Before we get to the pitches, how were the results? Through 84 innings, here are Bundy’s results compared to the previous two years:


Season K% SwStr% GB% Hard% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP SIERA
2017 21.8 11.4 32.8 36.5 11.5 4.24 4.80 4.77 4.45
2018 24.5 12.7 34.0 34.6 17.8 5.45 5.17 4.28 3.94
2019 24.5 13.2 36.4 27.7 18.4 4.91 5.25 4.70 4.34


On the surface, it appears that Bundy is right back to 2017with slightly better marks in his xFIP and SIERRA. His ERA, FIP and HR/FB% all went upbut he kept the increased strikeout and swinging-strike rates, raised his groundball-rate another two points, and lowered his hard-hit rate by another seven points. So, how did the mix breakdown? I mean, surely he didn’t throw his worst pitches more and his best pitches less, did he?


2019 (mph) Usage BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA K% GB%
4 Seam (91.1) 47.7% .339 .271 .790 .597 .485 .398 21.9 16.4
4 Seam (91.0) 42.4% .328 .266 .563 .517 .401 .357 10.1 24.6
Slider (81.1) 36.3% .145 .145 .258 .249 .220 .219 42.9 53.1
Slider (81.6) 4.8% .000 .003 .000 .009 .000 .007 57.1 20.0
Curve (75.1) 2.2% .167 .132 .667 .259 .339 .168 33.3 40.0
Curve (74.6) 18.4 .150 .184 .200 .223 .176 .201 23.8 56.3
Change (84.1) 10.2% .150 .231 .350 .428 .231 .302 28.6 57.1
Change (83.4) 30.1% .262 .252 .443 .353 .328 .293 22.7 51.0
Sinker (91.2) 4.1% .500 .328 .833 .648 .585 .453 14.3 20.0
Sinker (91.20 4.2% .000 .115 .000 .200 .345 .419 33.3 50.0

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]




  • Sinker use way down, but still being used and still being smacked around, particularly by righties. And don’t worry, it’s exit-velocity to left-handers is still 98+ mph.
  • Curve usage to right-handers has been halved, down to 2.2% – usage to lefthanders was up five points to 18.4%.
  • Slider down four points to righties and seven points to lefties. Inexplicably.
  • He decided to triple his rate of throwing Darth Vader…Changeup up seven points to righties and 13 points to lefties. Inexplicably.
  • Another year, another velocity decrease for Bundy’s fastball, now averaging 91.1 mph and continuing to get hit around.


Ockham’s Pitch Mix


“Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem”

More things should not be used than are necessary.


Is this just what Bundy is? Does he have to be? Before we get to what changes could be made, let me be clear that I know it’s not just as simple as looking at a table and swapping out this pitch for that. Things are rarely that simple. But know me long enough and you’ll come to know my love for Ockham’s Razor. The search for the simplestthough I name it elegantsolutions. Why can’t we use the Razor to slice away the unnecessary pitches, the ones for which we can find no good reasons to use?  If a certain pitch isn’t getting strikeouts, isn’t getting groundballs, and isn’t getting outs; but is getting hit hard and hit oftenthen what is the reason for using it, unless you are bereft of other good options?  And bereft of good options, Bundy is not.

Get the Razor.


The First Cut Is the Deepest


2019 % SwStr% CSW% BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA
Change  10.2% 16.9 22.9 .150 .231 .350 .428 .231 .302
Sinker 4.1% 6.5 16.2 .500 .328 .833 .648 .585 .453
Sinker 4.2% 7.4 11.1 .000 .115 .000 .200 .345 .419

[Pitches to RHB – Pitches to LHB]

  • You knew the sinker wasn’t surviving, right? If four-percent of the time, Bundy throws a pitch that doesn’t get swinging-strikes, doesn’t get called-strikes, doesn’t get groundballs, and mostly gets smashedthen four-percent of the time Bundy throws a pitch that is unnecessary.
  • In contrast to the sinker, there are good things about Bundy’s changeup to right-handers. He gets a high rate of groundballs and a lot of swinging-strikes that leads to a 28.6% K-rate. It hasn’t performed as bad as last year’s  1.500 SLG and .980 wOBAbut it still gets a lot of damage done to it and only has a 22.9% CSW, to boot. Selectively, it can still be usefulbut the real reason it can become unnecessary—is because of a possibly better alternative.

The Hook Nee-eeds Brought Back


Blues Traveler. I’m sorry but I wanted it to be in someone else’s head too. But anywaywe need to talk about Bundy’s curve to right-handers in 2019.


Pitch % SwStr% CSW% BA xBA SLG xSLG wOBA xwOBA
Curve 2.2% 17.6 52.9 .167 .132 .667 .259 .339 .168


Howdy! Thems some fancy numbers. Butand it’s a big butin an extremely small sample, as Bundy’s thrown it just 2.2% in 2019. The sample-size for 2018 and 2017 aren’t much better, as his usage of the curve then was respectively 4.1% and 6.8%.  But in 2016before the introduction of the slider in 2017Bundy did throw the curveball a substantial amount more. How were the results versus right-handers?


Year % SwStr% CSW% K% BA SLG wOBA Spin V Mov
2016 23.4% 8.4 23.9 39.5 .146 .171 .163 2331 8.4
2017 6.8% 7.0 25.0 23.5 .176 .412 .270 2255 10.0
2018 4.1% 8.6 44.8 16.7 .333 .833 .485 2212 11.5
2019 2.2% 17.6 52.9 33.3 .167 .667 .339 2398 12.1

[Pitches to RHB]

While it’d be unrealistic to expect the gaudy 2019 numbers to directly extrapolate out if the usage was jumped up, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the curve could be a substantial weapon against right-handerswith the ability to get swinging and called strikes, as well as limit damage in general. Bundy is also getting more spin than he ever has before, which is giving the pitch more vertical movement than it ever has before. Could this lead to him keeping more of his 17.6% SwStr-rate if he were to up the usage? I don’t know, but I’d rather find out than keep upping the changeup usage.

After Ockham has put the blade away, what is the mix which would remain?


RHB % SwStr% CallStr% CSW% K% GB% BA SLG wOBA
4 Seam 47.1% 9.7 14.1 23.8 21.9 16.4 .339 .790 .398
Slider 36.3% 25.4 16.2 41.6 42.9 53.1 .145 .258 .220
Curve 2.2% 17.6 35.3 52.9 33.3 40.0 .167 .667 .339
LHB % SwStr% CallStr% CSW% K% GB% BA SLG wOBA
4 Seam 42.4% 5.4 19.7 25.1 10.1 24.6 .328 .563 .357
Change 30.1% 18.0 14.6 32.6 22.7 51.0 .262 .443 .293
Curve 18.4% 7.0 24.8 31.8 23.8 56.3 .150 .200 .201
Slider 4.8% 15.4 7.7 23.1 57.1 20.0 .000 .000 .000


This a mix of breaking and off-speed pitches that can do a variety of jobs, when executed. Groundballs? Check. Swinging strikes? Check. Called strikes? Check. Multiple pitches with high CSW’s? Check. A tired fastball that still gets hammered but there’s really no other choice? Check. Sigh.

Bundy canand should, in my opiniondecrease his fastball usage even more, as he further morphs into a 26-year old crafty veteran. But even with decreased usage, as long as Bundy continues throwing a 91 mph “heater” in this age of launch angle and exit-velocity, then he’ll likely remain an inconsistent number three or four pitcher who occasionally lights up opponents with a variety of off-speed offerings…And more than occasionally gives up 500-foot bombs.

Can anything even be done about it? If one could wave a magic wand to help Mr. Bundy with his fastball and homerun problems, what would one wish for?

  1. No More Camden: As a right-handed flyball pitcher who’s become more and more home run prone as his velocity has dipped, there aren’t that many worse home ballparks than Camden Yards. Top-five in park factors for right-handed powerit’s been obvious in Bundy’s, as his 2.83 HR/9 against right-handers at home is almost double that of his rate against left-handers. Saying Bundy shouldn’t play where he plays isn’t really analysis, but it’s something to keep an eye on if the basement-dwelling Orioles decide to trade him at some point. Getting away from Camdennot to mention the AL Eastcould do wonders for Bundy’s biggest bugaboo.
  2. Someone Call Eleanor Roosevelt: Because what Bundy really needs is some speed. He’s never throwing 99 again but can he ever get back to 94? Could Bundy place a call to Driveline or P3 Pitching here in St. Louis to try and pick up another mph or two in the offseason? Because while not some guarantee, others like John Means, or a host of others, have succeeded in increasing their velocity with advanced training techniques.  And if there’s anyone who could use another mph or two, it’s Bundy.
  3. Can We Trade Him to Houston?: No, not just because of a more and more pervasive belief that the Astros can fix any pitcher. It’s more about how Bundy’s pitch mix would match up with what seems to be the general organizational philosophy of the Astroshigh-spin fastballs at the top of the zone paired with breaking pitches at the bottom. We’ve already seen that Bundy’s curveball is a weapon that gets calles and swinging strikes. And we’ve been over the fast-declining velocity of his fastball, but how’s the spin look? Let’s leave off with the top-5 RPM’s of starting pitchers who have thrown at least 600 4-seam fastballs this year:


Pitcher RPM
Mike Minor 2,645
Justin Verlander 2,580
Gerrit Cole 2,521
Max Scherzer 2,493
Dylan Bundy 2,458


The Bundy That Is 


At this pointgiven no changeswe know the Bundy we have and likely will have. An inconsistent starter who will appear unhittable for innings at a time…And then give up two home runs and five runs in the blink of an eye. He plays where he plays this year, so we can’t do anything about Camden. And since the fastball velocity isn’t suddenly going to jump mid-seasonin my opinion, Bundy’s best bet is to junk that junky sinker and keep replacing his fastball usage with sliders and curves to right-handersas well as the changeup to lefties.

Really, I just want to see what happens if Bundy just keeps throwing that sliderto batters on both sides until they stop striking out. What? Is he going to give up more home runs? Doubtful. After 3+ years of the same results, its far past time for our sweet Dylan to try something new.

Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Nicklaus Gaut

Born scores ago, Nicklaus Gaut is confused by the internet and people in general. But baseball sometimes makes sense, even when it doesn't. So after getting second-place in a writing contest, he now writes for Brad Johnson at his @BaseballATeam, as well as in an editor role at Read Nicklaus for his numbers and stories, but beware of @Nt_BurtReynolds...That dude might be nuts.

2 responses to “Going Deep: The Once and Future Bundy”

  1. BBHHI says:

    Great article !

    Fascinating that at this point most close followers of baseball could tell you the Houston general strategy, an yet guys (like Bundy) refuse to tinker with it on their own…

    Because of this article, I put Bundy on my roster for this week: two away starts AND he just got a cortisone shot. I have a sneaking feeling he’s been dealing with some minor knee issue this year that’s somewhat sapped his velocity and he’s decided to give it some rest

    • Nicklaus Gaut says:

      Thank you!
      Looked pretty sharp against Arizona. I’m with you…I just want Bundy to show up at Jeff Luhnow’s door with hat in hand, begging him to trade for him. “Teach me, Jeff. Please!”

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