Dylan Bundy: The Ace We’ve Been Waiting For
First things first, I would like to applaud some of you. Patience is one of the most difficult aspects of owning prospects in dynasty leagues. If you’re one of the few who held your Dylan Bundy shares over the past six bumpy years, stand up and take a bow. From being a ‘can’t miss’ pitching prospect, enduring serious injuries, and following it up with adequate performances, Bundy is now rewarding your patience handsomely. Since the 2017 All-Star break, he’s been a legitimate ace, and few seem to be noticing.
There definitely have been some flashier names making headlines so far this April. Shohei Ohtani’s incredible start. Gerrit Cole’s sheer dominance for Houston. Relative unknowns like Joey Lucchesi and Yonny Chirinos making waves. But Dylan Bundy has been quietly improving, hidden somewhat by Baltimore’s terrible start and the negative stigma attached to O’s pitching. But Bundy’s doing his best to erase that reputation. Here’s what he’s done in this brief start to the season ranked versus other qualifying starters:
Dylan Bundy 2018
Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider that his starts came against Minnesota, Houston, Toronto, and Boston. All four have dangerous offenses, and Bundy held them to a combined seven runs (four earned). Still, these results should be held within ‘small sample size’ context. But as I’ve stated, he’s been an ace since the 2nd half of 2017:
Dylan Bundy Since 2017 All-Star Break
|Rank (min. 50 IP)||29th||18th||13th||24th||20th|
Pretty beastly numbers there. If you need more convincing, Bundy owns a .274 wOBA since the ’17 ASG, which ties Luis Castillo and Chris Sale for 8th best over that span. So how has Bundy turned the corner towards the road to SP1 town? He’s not lighting up the radar like he did pre-TJ surgery; his fastball sits around 92 MPH. His success has centered around the re-introduction of what is now his best pitch.
Bundy’s Lethal Weapon
Instead of having me bore you with words, just check out the chart below and see what change Bundy made last year:
Bundy didn’t throw any sliders during the entire 2016 season due to concerns about adding stress to his repaired elbow. But he added the slider to his repertoire in 2017 and threw the pitch more often as the season wore on:
|Pitch Mix by Year||4-Seam FB||Sinker||Curveball||Slider||Changeup|
|1st Half '17||53.3%||0.0%||11.4%||19.3%||16.0%|
|2nd Half '17||54.9%||0.0%||8.6%||27.1%||9.4%|
Throwing the slider a little over a quarter of the time seems to agree with the Oriole. Batters must have nightmares about his slider, inducing a .166/.216/.235 line and 26.1% swinging strike rate over Bundy’s career. He’s taking the pitch to new heights so far this year though, getting whiffs at a 35.3% clip.
Also noteworthy is his increased sinker usage in 2018, a pitch he didn’t throw last year. Being an extreme fly ball pitcher (47.2 FB% in ’17, second among qualified starters), Bundy has had issues with home runs. In fact, he had a 1.41 HR/9 rate entering this season, which is quite unhealthy for his ERA. His hitter-friendly ballpark and the daunting AL East offenses tend to amplify this problem as well. However, he has allowed just one homer in 2018, good for a 0.35 HR/9 mark. Again, this is a small sample size warning here, especially with three of his starts being in cold weather. But the additional sinker should help avoid hitters sitting on the 4-seamer and get more groundballs. The early returns are favorable, as his fly ball rate is down to 41.5%.
What to Expect
In the preseason, the Dynasty Guru experts ranked Bundy 53rd and understandably so. He still has home run and health concerns. But there’s always elevated injury risk with pitchers, and every start Bundy throws puts more space between him and his Tommy John. He’s not only sustained his gains from last year, but has continued to grow into the dominance once forecasted for Bundy years ago (He’s #4). Just check out these peripherals:
|O-Swing %||Z-Contact %||First-Pitch Strike %||Swinging Strike %|
Those huge strides in four of my favorite peripherals are swoon-worthy. The additions of the slider and the sinker show that he’s constantly working to improve his craft, gaining an elite wipeout pitch and a needed groundball inducer. And even though he debuted in 2012, Bundy’s just in his age-25 season. I must reiterate, just to quell your excitement: SMALL SAMPLE SIZE! Also, don’t expect many wins this year, since he has zero after four strong starts. That said, you can easily move Bundy into the Top 30 SP ranks and he’s personally in my Top 20. Bundy’s showing that he was worth the wait.