Baltimore Orioles

Orioles' Dylan Bundy 'really sharp' against Twins, just what his manager wanted to see

Sarasota, Fla. — Dylan Bundy's last spring training start before Thursday's against the split-squad Minnesota Twins was at the beginning of a folly-filled win over the Tampa Bay Rays last weekend.

There was nothing funny about Bundy's role in it, though. He's gone through several major league spring training seasons without much success statistically, but there was something similar about the way Bundy was getting hit in the Grapefruit League after a 2018 season in which he allowed a league-high 41 home runs, spawning concerns over whether he'd again be able to flip a switch when the season started.


At the very least, manager Brandon Hyde needed to see the indicators that he could flip that switch.

"Now is the time where you've got to start executing pitches," Hyde said before the Orioles' 7-6 loss Thursday to the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. And for the most part, Bundy obliged.


"Especially those first four innings, I thought he was really sharp,” Hyde said. “I thought everything was good. His mound presence was great, and I thought he showed two plus breaking balls, a really good changeup. I thought his fastball had more hop than he's had the first few starts. I thought he got a little fatigued there in the fifth, but it was exactly what we were hoping for, to get him through five innings with good shape to his pitches. It was a really good start for him."

"It felt great just to get up five times and finish five innings there," Bundy said, though the fifth and final inning didn't make for a flattering final line of four runs on seven hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. "They made me work a little bit there in the fifth, but that's what we need in spring training, to work through some things."

Bundy was far more efficient Thursday than in his previous starts, throwing strikes on all 10 pitches in the first inning and working his fastball in the 90-92 mph range early and 88-90 later, and when he was in a rhythm early, he did a much better job of not leaving the ball over the plate than he has recently. When he did, or when he got behind in counts, it got hit. But the damage was far more manageable, and he was aided by having another pitch to go to.

"The slider was a little bit more crisp," Bundy said. "I actually had a changeup that was moving today, unlike last outing, it wasn't moving too much for me. Fastball command for the most part was a little better today. ... The changeup I was able to throw to lefties behind in the count, and sliders to righties mainly. I didn't get to throw too many changeups or curveballs to right-handed hitters like I wanted to today. So maybe next outing, that's what I'll work on."

Bundy acknowledged that the results were "still not where I want them to be," and he's never been overly concerned with spring results before. But it's clear that Hyde needed to see a step in the right direction.

"Typically, his fastball, the [velocity] does go up as the season goes along," Hyde said before the game. "This is typical for him and we talked about it with him after his last start. For me, it's command, shape of his off-speed stuff. He didn't really have his off-speed stuff his last start, and for me, that's important. Just continuing to command and get his pitch count up."

Bundy will likely get two more starts in spring training games before camp breaks March 25, so there's plenty of time to build past the five innings and 74 pitches that stretched his stamina Thursday. Quick innings like his eight-pitch second and seven-pitch fourth against the split-squad Twins will help, but so will avoiding the long innings when the Twins were able score.

"I've still got two more outings to do that and work the pitch count a little bit higher next time," Bundy said.