Orioles' Dylan Bundy trending upward as once-elusive strikeouts mount

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Dylan Bundy hasn't had many starts on regular rest in the past six weeks, and he'd been better with a little extra time between starts.

That made his second straight 10-strikeout performance and his team-best 12th win of the season that much sweeter Saturday night, when on four days’ rest he helped the Orioles to a 12-5 win over the Oakland Athletics.

"We can't find a pattern there, right?" manager Buck Showalter said. "Regardless of how many days he's got off — this was his regular day — he's been pretty consistent."

Bundy had a bumpy time early Saturday, as a long wait in the dugout during the Orioles' seven-run first inning nullified some of his pregame warmup and two of the first six Athletics batters swatted home runs over the first two innings.

"I actually didn't think Dylan was carrying his normal command," Showalter said. “[Pitching coach Roger McDowell] was worried that he sat a long time in that first inning, but he was happy with the seven runs. We were asking him about going out and throwing some more, but he made a point of going out there earlier in that first inning to get three or more extra throws."

Once he settled in — and even in those tenuous first few innings — Bundy carried the swing-and miss stuff from his start Monday against the Los Angeles Angels into Saturday. In the start in Anaheim, Calif., he struck out 10 batters with 16 swinging strikes as he continued to lean heavily on his slider, which he has plenty since the All-Star break.

On Saturday, 36 of his 104 pitches were sliders — his most ever — and he got 11 of his career-high 17 swinging strikes on the pitch.

"Most of them probably off my slider, but it was execution and a good game plan with my catcher back there," Bundy said. "Me and [catcher Welington Castillo], we were really throwing the slider in to lefties and away to righties today. They didn't let many fastballs go by without swinging at them, so we had to constantly mix pitches tonight."

While he struggled some with his fastball command, his average four-seam fastball was 92.8 miles per hour Saturday, which continues his pattern of holding his velocity deep into games.

Adding the slider back into his repertoire has meant he's less reliant on contact, too. He'd fanned seven batters per nine innings in the first half, and in the second half, while throwing his slider 26.3 percent of the time, he has struck out 9.2 batters per nine. His swinging strike rate was at 10 percent at the break, and is 13.3 percent since it.

And crucially, even when he gets out of sync and has the potential for a big inning, Showalter believes Bundy has been able to fight through it.

"Even when he has an inning when he's out of whack a little bit, he gets right back in there," Showalter said. "He had a bunch of big outs that the game could have got back."

Bundy's six innings of three-run, seven-hit ball brought his ERA to 4.17 on the season.



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