When the Angels acquired Dylan Bundy from the Orioles in early December, it moved the needle for many fantasy baseball players and prognosticators, but perhaps not to the point that it should have.
Bundy, the former fourth overall selection from the 2011 Draft, had shown flashes of brilliance during his time with the Orioles, but was never able to deliver consistent results. In 127 career games with the O’s, Bundy posted a 38-45 record, 4.67 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 602/206 K/BB ratio across 614 ⅓ innings. Not exactly screaming top of the rotation starter.
Still, many sharps in the fantasy industry were very high on the right-hander this spring (and summer) - with the change of scenery and especially the move out of the hitter’s haven that is Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The way it looks through three starts, perhaps even they weren’t high enough on him.
Bundy delivered one of the finest starts of his big league career on Thursday, notching his third career complete game while allowing just one run on four hits in a victory over the Mariners. He racked up 10 strikeouts on the night. It’s the first complete game for Bundy since May of 2018.
The only blemish on his day came on a solo shot off the bat of Daniel Vogelbach in the fourth inning. Otherwise, he was in complete command. Bundy needed only 107 pitches to complete his gem - throwing 76 of them for strikes.
Through three starts with the Halos, the 27-year-old hurler boasts a stellar 2.08 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and 25/2 K/BB ratio across 21 ⅔ innings. His 41.1% called+swinging strike rate leads all MLB starters.
That’s unbelievable production for any starting pitcher - let alone one that was the 54th starting pitcher off the board on average during NFBC Main Event drafts - sitting just inside the top 200 players overall.
Now obviously, he isn’t likely to continue dominating at this ridiculous of a level. But there’s nothing in his profile through three starts that indicates any sort of major drop off is coming. Bundy isn’t doing this with smoke and mirrors. His success also isn’t a product of ramping up his velocity over the winter. In fact, his fastball is sitting just about where it was a season ago, hovering right around 91.5 mph.
So what has changed? Bundy’s approach and pitch mix. He -- or the Angels’ organization -- correctly realized that his fastball has been a terrible pitch for him over the years. It has returned negative pitch values every season of his career. Yet it was still a pitch that he threw nearly half the time -- with his lowest fastball usage ever at 42.7% in 2019. This year, he has cut that down to around 30%.
With the decreased fastball usage -- Bundy is relying much more heavily on his breaking balls -- the curveball and slider in particular -- both of which are tremendous pitches that he can command far better than league average. The slider in particular, he’s throwing more than he ever has before -- 19.4% career rate vs. almost 33% this year. The usage on the curveball is also up slightly -- though he’s now throwing it as a weapon early in the count to get called strikes and get ahead of hitters.
If the 2020 season truly is the long-awaited breakout for Bundy -- fantasy owners who gambled on him in the middle rounds of drafts are going to wind up reaping tremendous benefits.
Making it Up
Major League Baseball announced Thursday a series of scheduling changes designed to make up all of the games that have been postponed already due to COVID-19.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com posted the entire list of changes here on Thursday.
That’s going to mean plenty of seven-inning doubleheaders for the teams that have missed games early this season. For some -- that could be as many as three doubleheaders over a span of five days.
While it’s admirable that the league is doing what it can to make up all of the games that have been missed and maintain the competitive balance -- this plan only works if there are no other outbreaks that cause one or more of these same teams to face an extended layoff.
Either way, it’s nice to see the powers at be trying to do everything that they can to make sure that each team plays 60 -- or as close as possible -- games this season.
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Trimming the Roster
The deadline for MLB teams to trim their rosters down to 28 players (from 30) was Thursday at noon. While there were no Earth-shattering moves to come out of that frenzy, a few were somewhat note-worthy.
The Yankees optioned Miguel Andujar to the team’s alternate training site. The 25-year-old -- who finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2018 (to Shohei Ohtani) -- was just 1-for-14 (.071) with three strikeouts to begin the season. Unfortunately, with the Yankees’ loaded lineup fully healthy, there’s simply no place for Andujar to get regular at-bats. He’ll continue to bide his time until an injury strikes and he’s needed again.
The other surprise on the list was seeing the Pirates option out both Guillermo Heredia and Jose Osuna. Through Thursday’s game, the Pirates -- as a team -- were hitting .191/.255/.312. As. A. Team.
So their offense needs all of the help that it can get. Heredia has proven in the past to be a capable masher of left-handed pitching, and Osuna slashed .264/.310/.456 with 10 homers in 285 plate appearances for the Pirates in 2019.
Sure, they’ll both likely get another opportunity with the big league club this season, but I personally did not expect either to be optioned out on Thursday.
Here’s a quick summary of the players who were optioned out or DFA’s for each team. A few teams had one roster spot already cleared with moves from the prior day:
American League East
Blue Jays - RHP Jacob Waguespack, INF/OF Santiago Espinal
Orioles - OF DJ Stewart
Rays - INF Brian O’Grady, RHP Ryan Thompson
Red Sox - RHP Chris Mazza, LHP Matt Hall
Yankees - INF/OF Miguel Andujar, INF Thairo Estrada, RHP Nick Nelson
American League Central
Indians - OF Greg Allen, OF Daniel Johnson, INF Christian Arroyo (DFA)
Royals - C Meibrys Viloria, INF/OF Erick Mejia, RHP Scott Blewett
Tigers - INF Jordy Mercer (DFA)
Twins - OF Aaron Whitefield
White Sox - OF Nicky Delmonico
American League West
Angels - RHP Jose Rodriguez, INF Matt Thaiss
Astros - RHP Bryan Abreu, INF Jack Mayfield
Athletics - OF Seth Brown, RHP James Kaprielian
Mariners - RHP Bryan Shaw, OF Jose Marmolejos
Rangers - C Jose Trevino, RHP Luke Farrell
National League East
Braves - RHP Chad Sobotka, C Alex Jackson, OF Scott Schebler (DFA)
Marlins - LHP Josh D. Smith, LHP Bryan Moran
Mets - C Ali Sanchez
Nationals - INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio (DFA), RHP James Bourque
Phillies - OF Kyle Garlick, RHP Enyel De Los Santos
National League Central
Brewers - INF Ryon Healy, RHP J.P. Feyereisen
Cubs - LHP Rex Brothers, LHP Justin Steele
Pirates - OF Guillermo Heredia, INF Jose Osuna
Reds - INF/OF Josh VanMeter, RHP Tejay Antone, LHP Brooks Raley (DFA)
National League West
Diamondbacks - INF Ildemaro Vargas, RHP Yoan Lopez
Dodgers - RHP Adam Kolarek, INF/OF Zach McKinstry
Giants - OF Steven Duggar, LHP Andrew Suarez
Padres - LHP Joey Lucchesi, OF Josh Naylor
Rockies - INF Josh Fuentes, RHP Ashton Goudeau
American League Quick Hits: Angels’ rookie sensation Jo Adell was held out of the team’s starting lineup on Thursday due to minor soreness in his quad. He’s considered day-to-day. … George Springer was removed from Thursday’s game with a right wrist strain. He’s considered day-to-day… Josh Donaldson was held out of action again on Thursday due to tightness in his right calf. The Twins remain hopeful he’ll return to the lineup over the weekend. … Jake Odorizzi (intercostal) is scheduled to make his season debut on Saturday against the Royals. … Mariners’ top prospect Julio Rodriguez is slated to get the cast off his fractured left wrist on Tuesday. … Delino DeShields Jr. returned from the COVID-19 injured list on Thursday. … Rougned Odor (right oblique discomfort) has yet to return to the Rangers’ lineup, but is now expected to avoid the injured list. … The Yankees purchased the contract of right-hander Nick Tropeano. … Edwin Encarnacion missed his second straight game with SC joint inflammation in his left shoulder. He’s still considered day-to-day. … Michael Brantley (quad) returned to the Astros’ lineup on Thursday… Aroldis Chapman (COVID-19) is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Saturday - if all goes well he’ll begin throwing to live hitters next week. Zack Britton will continue to fill in for the time being. … Rio Ruiz missed another game with a sore shoulder. He’s expected to return to the lineup on Friday or Saturday. … The Rays placed Yonny Chirinos on the 10-day injured list with right triceps inflammation. There’s no clear timetable yet on how long he’ll be sidelined. … Astros’ skipper Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Yordan Alvarez has begun taking batting practice and running. He’s still roughly 10 days to two weeks away from being ready to join the Astros. … Baker also said that Jose Urquidy has begun throwing off a mound, but he’s also at least two weeks away from joining the big league club. … The Blue Jays placed Trent Thornton on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching elbow. … Astros minor league left-hander Kent Emanuel was suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. … Brad Peacock (shoulder) threw off a mound on Thursday without issue -- though there remains no timetable for a possible return to the Astros’ bullpen.
Daniel Vogelbach socked his first home run of the season in a loss to the Angels. … Shohei Ohtani slugged his third homer of the year in his return to the Angels’ lineup on Thursday. … Max Stassi clubbed his fourth long ball in that win over the M’s. … Carlos Carrasco allowed just one hit over six shutout innings in a victory over the Reds - striking out eight in the process. … Jose Ramirez went 3-for-5 with a pair of homers, a triple, four runs scored and four RBI as the Indians pantsed the Reds 13-0. … Cesar Hernandez drove in three and scored three runs in that one as well… Anderson Tejada went 2-for-4, homered, stole a base and drove in three runs in his MLB debut against the Athletics. … Khris Davis went 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs in a win over the Rangers. … Brad Keller racked up seven strikeouts over five shutout innings to beat the Cubs in his season debut. … Maikel Franco clubbed a two-run homer - his third home run of the season - as the Royals routed the Cubs. … Whit Merrifield crushed a two-run homer, swiped a base and scored three times in that win. … Gary Sanchez connected on his first long ball of the season in a loss to the Phillies. … Ryan Pressly struggled mightily in his first save chance, allowing two runs on three hits without recording a single out against the Diamondbacks. … Jose Altuve went 3-for-4 with a homer, stolen base and three runs scored in a loss to the D’Backs. … Alex Bregman crushed a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning of that one. … Renato Nunez slugged a pair of solo home runs as the Orioles fell to the Marlins again.
National League Quick Hits: Will Smith returned from the COVID-19 injured list on Thursday. He’s tentatively expected to work in a setup role in front of closer Mark Melancon initially. … The Cubs took a shot at bolstering their bullpen by signing Kelvin Herrera to a minor league contract. … They also inked left-hander Matt Dermody to a minor league pact. … Jose Quintana (thumb) threw a successful bullpen session on Thursday. If all goes well with his next session on Saturday, he’ll be cleared to join the Cubs’ rotation next week. … Daniel Ponce de Leon will start for the Cardinals when their season resumes on Friday. Jack Flaherty - who had been scheduled to pitch next for the Cardinals - is expected to go on Sunday or Monday.
Kevin Newman delivered a pinch-hit two-run single off of Twins’ closer Taylor Rogers, propelling the Pirates to a comeback victory over the Twins. … Trevor Story socked his fifth dinger of the season as the Rockies topped the Giants. … Jairo Diaz recorded the final four outs of that one to earn his third save of the season. … Donovan Solano went 3-for-4 in a losing effort there and is hitting an absurd .465 (20-for-46) to begin the season. … Luis Castillo fanned nine over five innings in a losing effort against the Indians. … After two brilliant starts to begin the season, Tyler Chatwood was torched for eight runs on 11 hits over 2 ⅓ innings against the Royals. … J.T. Realmuto clobbered a three-run homer as the Phillies topped the Yankees. … Touki Toussaint punched out nine over 6 ⅔ innings in a tough-luck no-decision against the Blue Jays. … Nick Markakis blasted a walk-off homer off of Wilmer Font to propel the Braves past the Jays. … Zac Gallen fanned six over six innings of two-run baseball in a no-decision against the Astros. … Kole Calhoun delivered a walk-off two-run double off of Ryan Pressly in the ninth inning, leading the Diamondbacks to victory over the Astros. … Brian Anderson went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs on Thursday as the first place Marlins defeated the Orioles. … Josh Lindblom matched his career-high with seven strikeouts over five innings in a victory over the White Sox. … Christian Yelich tallied an inside-the-park home run in that one - his first homer of the 2020 season. He also walked four times and scored three runs.