Dynasty Baseball

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

 IPKBBERAWHIPFIPK/9K-BB%
Dylan Bundy25.23171.401.091.9610.923.1%
MLB Rank9th33rd11th14th16th

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

 IPKBBERAWHIPFIPK/9K-BB%
Dylan Bundy87.199233.301.103.0610.221.3%
Rank (min. 50 IP)29th18th13th24th20th

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:

 

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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 Year4-Seam FBSinkerCurveballSliderChangeup
201657.5%4.2%18.4%0.0%19.9%
1st Half '1753.3%0.0%11.4%19.3%16.0%
2nd Half '1754.9%0.0%8.6%27.1%9.4%
201844.2%11.6%9.0%26.8%8.4%

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 %
201732.185.259.611.4
201836.778.163.516.3
'18 Rank6th10th32nd7th

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.

The Author

Tom Werner

Tom Werner

Tom has been playing fantasy sports since 2000 when his Boy Scout troop started a fantasy football league. He's been addicted ever since, as it combines his love of statistics, competition, and sports. Fantasy baseball emerged as his favorite; Tom's in three dynasty baseball leagues and wants to help you win yours (except you Charles).

4 Comments

  1. Vinny
    April 21, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    So you are thinking it was a good decision to get nothing for many years just to finally get some value? I disagree with that take. If you stuck with Bundy for 6 years he will never return what you have invested in him. You could have better utilized that roster spot or traded for something that helped a lot more 5 years ago. Being a sleeper for several years running gets expensive – when you buy or hold every year that adds up. The better move woukd have been to sell high and then to buy at the affordable price that he was at last year if you believe in that. Heck, even now he would cost a lot less than he was worth 5 years ago. Me, I see a guy who wont throw a ton of innings for a non contender in a tough division. He has to be really, really good to have much value.

    • April 23, 2018 at 7:12 am

      In general, I agree with the first half of your comment. The ‘sell high, buy low’ mantra would’ve turned a nice profit in the scenario you described with Bundy. And in all honesty, I sold my Bundy shares years ago in my shallow leagues. League context matters a lot. In a shallow 10-team mixed league with a short bench and a small prospect allotment, you lose a lot more value during a half-decade-long wait-and-see approach. But in a deep 20-team or AL-only where 300+ prospects are kept, the steep replacement value drop makes holding Bundy through his rough years much more viable. Plus if you sell, there’s no guarantee his owner would’ve let you buy low in 2016 or early last year. So in shallow leagues, I agree with you. Deeper leagues, the patience (for this specific player) pays off.

      As for your valuation of Bundy, we disagree. He’ll struggle with wins but he still has been really, really good over the past four baseball months. I appreciate your comment, as discussing different viewpoints is great for developing a well-rounded fantasy baseball perspective, thank you Vinny.

  2. dylan bundy
    May 9, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    What now?

    • May 9, 2018 at 6:55 pm

      Well…this article isn’t aging well so far. Bundy hasn’t been inducing as many grounders in his last three starts (29%) as he has in his first five starts (39%) this season. Home runs will be the issue, but nine homers in his last nine innings pitched just isn’t going to cut it. The four HRs he allowed against the Royals were on fastballs straight down the middle, plus he went 0-for-7 in getting first-pitch strikes against KC. Bundy has also thrown his slider less than 20% of the time in two of his three ugly outings, which is odd that he’d sheath his best weapon.

      For now, I’d bench Bundy until he figures out his fastball command issues. I wouldn’t sell him 50 cents on the dollar, especially in a dynasty. He’s had four months of sustained success until these three awful starts. Long term, I still have plenty of faith. The fastball velocity is still within his usual range and I haven’t seen any indicators to suggest health is an issue yet. So while he has torpedoed many an ERA and WHIP lately, hold steady.

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