“Definitely weird,” the 26-year-old right-hander said. “I’m the same age as them.”
After Friday’s signing of Dan Straily, only eight members of the Orioles’ roster are younger than Bundy, Baltimore’s starter in Saturday’s matchup with the New York Yankees, but only eight have more service time.
The sudden veteran status is just part of the growing Bundy is trying to undergo this season. The fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft has yet to pitch up to that billing as a starting pitcher. He made 31 starts last season but ended the year as the major league leader in losses and home runs allowed. He seemed to show improvement in his first start, also against the Yankees, but walks ran his pitch count up as he lasted only 3 2/3 innings. His seven strikeouts in that span gave him reason for optimism.
“The stuff was good,” Bundy said. “All the pitches were pretty good, so just gotta get more on the plate, not walk so many guys. That was the biggest problem. That kinda got the pitch count up there, foul balls and walks, so eliminate those and carry the same stuff I had into this next one, and hopefully go deeper in the game.”
The Orioles will need that, having entered Friday’s day off with the second-most innings pitched by relievers in baseball. Straily’s signing helps avoid the bullpen games manager Brandon Hyde has elected to use once in each turn through the rotation.
Bundy is not only in pursuit of length, though. He led the Orioles in starts and innings (171 2/3) in 2018 and averaged 5.54 innings per start, the most among pitchers who spent the full season in Baltimore. Bundy seeks to improve the results.
“You always want to get better,” Bundy said. “That’s your main goal as a starting pitcher, and you’re always working and striving to get better and do certain things on the mound and on the ballfield you haven’t done before, but also showing these other guys that haven’t been up here before how to go about being a professional and doing things the right way.”
Bundy said the clubhouse is the most relaxed and energetic he’s seen it at the start of a season in his time as an Oriole. He credits that youthful energy and camaraderie for the team’s surprising 4-3 start, one he’ll look to build on Saturday.
Bundy gets an immediate chance to show improvement against a Yankees lineup that will be a diminished version of what he faced in New York. Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andújar, who combined to reach in three of their four plate appearances against Bundy, are both on the injured list.
This will be the fourth time Bundy makes consecutive starts against the same opponent, doing so most recently in 2017 against the Oakland Athletics. Bundy historically has been better in the first outing of such pairings, posting a 4.41 ERA compared to a 7.80 mark in the second start, but he hesitated to say whether facing the same team so soon was an advantage or disadvantage.
“I’ll let you know after the start,” Bundy said. “Both? I mean, they’ve seen you, they know what you got, but you’ve also seen them, you know what they’ve got. I’m gonna try to perform a little bit better than what I did against them last time and build off what I saw in that start, and they’re gonna try to do the same thing. It’s like a chess match, and we’ll see who comes out on top.”