Orioles reporters Jon Meoli and Eduardo A. Encina on Dylan Bundy’s uneven spring and what it means that the Orioles optioned catcher Austin Wynns to minor league camp.
SARASOTA, FLA. — Dylan Bundy’s pitch count approached triple digits in Sunday afternoon’s start against the New York Mets — a part of the natural progression of spring training — but the Orioles right-hander wasn’t satisfied with the efficiency of his pitches in the 5-4 loss.
Bundy was charged with five runs — four of them earned — allowing eight base runners (five hits, one walk and two hit batters) over 5 2/3 innings, marking the third time in four Grapefruit League starts this spring that he’s allowed five runs.
“Well in 5 2/3 [innings], that’s not good,” Bundy said of his 96-pitch pitch count. “But yeah, getting that pitch count up to near 100, that’s good for the regular season.”
As results start to gain more significance as the regular season draws near, Bundy — the Orioles’ most consistent starter last season — is still looking for results as the regular season approaches.
Though it has yet to be announced by manager Buck Showalter, Bundy is likely to receive the Orioles’ Opening Day starting assignment in the coming days. But Wednesday’s outing was far from fitting for an ace preparing for the regular season.
“You can start to [look more into the results] because you’re getting up there in pitches and you’re going like you would on a normal night — going five, six, seven innings,” Bundy said. “So you look for results at the end of spring. But I’ve still got another start before we head north, so obviously going still going to work on some things in the bullpen and be ready to go come April, I mean March 29.”
Bundy, who has a 9.00 ERA and has allowed opponents to hit at a .343 clip this spring, will likely have just one more tuneup before the beginning of the season. He is in line to pitch Friday against a Tampa Bay Rays split-squad team, but Showalter has kept his pitchers away from American League East competition this spring, so he could also log his final spring innings in a minor league game that day.
Bundy allowed five runs in each of his first two spring outings, and there were many factors behind those results — wind-aided homers, poor fielding behind him — that led to some ugly pitching lines, but with Opening Day around the corner, there is more cause for concern. He fell behind in far too many counts, and left two many pitches up with a high-80s, low-90s fastball that Mets hitters were able to sit on.
“He was a little up [in the zone],” Showalter said. “I thought there were a lot of pitches that could have been called strikes too, so it hurt some counts for him. But [he] didn’t quite have the command he’s had so far in the spring. … I thought he was OK. He got his pitch count where he needed to. … He didn’t implode, pitched his way through some situations. Keep us engaged in the game.”
With the Orioles trailing 1-0 on Travis d’Arnaud’s homer — d’Arnaud jumped on a 3-0 fastball to open the second inning -- No. 9 Mets hitter Matt den Dekker opened the third-inning rally with a hard-hit one-out triple down the first-base line, followed by Brandon Nimmo’s run-scoring single. Bundy hooked a slider that hit left-handed hitting Jose Reyes and then allowed a two-run double to d’Arnaud two batters later with two outs in the inning to cap a three-run frame for the Mets.
“The results weren’t there obviously with that many runs scored,” Bundy said. “Just left a couple of pitches up there in the third, behind in the count. … They took advantage of it. … I think I threw quite a few curveballs the first two or three innings. Got a few called strikes on it. I was happy with the shape of the pitch today. The slider came into effect later in the game.”
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Bundy left the game trailing 4-1 game after getting Juan Lagares looking on a curveball for the second out of the sixth inning, but minor league reliever Luis Rodriguez allowed an inherited runner to score on Amed Rosario’s single, adding a fifth run to Bundy’s pitching line.
“Getting comfortable back up there in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning, later-in-the-spring starts here,” Bundy said. “Trying to go deeper into games, get the pitch count up and get ready for the regular season. I feel like most of the sequences we did today were pretty good, except for not hitting my spots on a couple pitches.”
A poor spring for Bundy last year didn’t carry over into the regular season. He had a 7.41 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts in 2017, allowing six home runs in 17 innings, but was the team’s best starter when it counted, going 13-9 with a 4.24 ERA in 28 starts.