If Dylan Bundy can keep the ball from sailing into the outfield stands, he could be a great pick-up for the Los Angeles Angels.
Before Spring Training was suspended, one of the best storylines in Angels camp was starting pitcher Dylan Bundy. The right-hander, with a repertoire that includes five different pitches, was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in December.
He started four games during the spring, wearing the Halos uniform for the first time, and finished 3-1, looking un-hittable along the way. He struck out 16 batters in 11.1 innings of work, surrendering only four hits and one walk.
Originally selected fourth overall in the 2011 Major League Draft, Bundy has always had the pedigree to be a frontline starter; however, injuries have slowed him down from reaching his potential. Between 2013-2015, the right-hander from Oklahoma only made 28 minor league starts. Finally healthy again in 2016, he has been able to keep himself off the injury report since, appearing in at least 28 games over the past four seasons.
Bundy is coming off arguably his best season as a pro, perhaps second to his 2017 campaign. Don’t let his 7-14 record for a terrible Orioles team in 2019 fool you. The right-hander who relies on stuff more than speed, made 30 starts, struck out 9.02 batters every nine innings, improved his ground ball rate, reduced his home run rate (more on that in a bit), and brought his ERA, which touched 5.45 two seasons earlier, down to 4.79.
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The key with Bundy is keeping the ball inside the ballpark. He allowed a league-most 41 home runs in 2018, which he knocked down to 29 last season, a number that is still too high. It should help moving from Camden Yards, which had the fourth highest home run park factor last season, to The Big A, which plays more even, ranked 11th using the same metric. However, it will be important for him to keep his ground ball rate closer to league average, like he did last season, rather than in the low thirties, as it has been over the majority of his career.
Bundy relies on his four-seam fastball, slider, and change-up, but he will also mix in a curveball and sinker. His most effective pitch being his slider, which he unleashes when ahead in the count to strike batters out.
At $5 million and locked up for another season of team control, Bundy offers the Halos a low-risk/high-reward starter in a rotation that could use both depth and consistency. Billy Eppler surrendered a package of prospects to get him, but only Isaac Mattson projects to be a major leaguer anytime soon.
Whenever baseball returns, the Angels hope they can strike lightning in a bottle with Bundy, who was once ranked as the second best prospect in all of baseball in 2013. After several steady seasons with the Orioles, he appears ready to breakout, perhaps in perfect timing for the Halos.