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Orioles starter Dylan Bundy adjusts to rest instead of routine

The Orioles' second-half path of providing additional rest for right-hander Dylan Bundy will continue this afternoon as Bundy starts against the Oakland Athletics on 10 days of rest.

The club has used days off — and now is taking advantage of having six rotation options — to limit Bundy's innings. But that's meant a lack of the routine that starting pitchers usually thrive in. With Bundy's start today, he will have made four starts on the regular four days' rest, one on five days, one on six days, one on eight days, one on 10 days and one on 11 days.

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"It's been an adjustment because it's been different," Bundy said. "There are certain things you do. Like with bullpens, sometimes I get an extra one or two maybe. And then I do my running, and with lifting. Sometimes, I might take a week off of lifting or something to get my legs under me. It's a challenge, but you've just got to go with it and as soon as [you're given] the go ahead on what day you're starting, you work from there and get ready for that day."

The key, Bundy said, is trying to maintain some sort of routine, and he's been able to do that because the club has kept him informed of its plan.

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"I might not know 10 days before," Bundy said. "They let me know as soon as they know, and that's usually plenty of time. I know the first two days after my start are pretty much already booked in terms of what I'm doing. No matter what, I'm going to run and do [certain] stuff in the two days after my start. ... Those first two days are pretty much always going to be the same."

The results have shown Bundy has been more effective with extended rest. He's 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts on six or more days of rest. His ERA increases to 4.23 on five days' rest and is 4.68 on four days'. Just as important is maintaining Bundy's health in his first season as a full-time starter, and he said he feels stronger at the 140 1/3-inning mark than he did at the end of last season after his 109 1/3-inning total.

"I'd say I've felt really consistent this whole year with where my arm's at and where my body's at," Bundy said. "I wouldn't say it's gotten too high or too low as far as feeling good or bad. There are definitely points in the year when you feel better than you do at different times in the year, but I think getting this rest in the second half is kind of getting me balanced and pretty consistently feeling good this whole season and so far it's working out great."

The Orioles would like to keep Bundy around 180 innings this season — which is still a significant jump from last season — with eyes on maintaining his availability if the team makes the postseason.

"I think every starter likes to have a routine and can benefit from a routine, but I know the plan this year," Bundy said. "I know there's a cap — not a cap — but a watchful eye on it. I know that this year, so it's not anything I'm surprised by. So it's easy to go with it knowing that next year I should be able to pretty much throw whatever innings I can get hopefully. That's kind of the plan if everything goes well this year. Next year hopefully there won't be any slowing down or anything like that."

Manager Buck Showalter likes how Bundy has handled the adjustment, saying Bundy's maturity has been evident.

"We don't just cram it down his throat," Showalter said. "We go, 'Here's what we're thinking. Are you thinking any different?' I think he's handled the rest well. I know he's charting every game in the dugout with a pen and paper. He's watching, talking with his teammates. I've been real impressed with the maturity he's handled it with. But believe me, he wants to be out there every fifth day, but he's been able to watch and see some of the things he might have done earlier in his pitching career that have been some things he might have learned from. And he knows how precious his arm and shoulder are. … I think he appreciates the caution."

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