Bundy made 15 qual­ity starts in mixed sea­son

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

BUNDY, num­bers that aren’t good. There are some num­bers that are bet­ter, but over­all, ob­vi­ously, it was a down year, and I’ll look at it more in the off­sea­son in what I can do to get bet­ter from here.”

De­pend­ing on which part of the sea­son is con­sid­ered, Bundy cer­tainly has plenty to draw from. He had a 1.42 ERA in his first five starts and struck out 11.4 bat­ters per nine in­nings in that span, but he al­lowed nine home runs in his next three starts — in­clud­ing four with­out record­ing an out May 8 against the Kansas City Roy­als.

That spell co­in­cided with a groin in­jury that pre­vented him from get­ting down over his land­ing leg as well, mean­ing he’d miss high more of­ten be­cause he couldn’t get through his de­liv­ery. Once he cor­rected it, he put to­gether an eight-start spell of more suc­cess.

Bundy’s eight starts af­ter that Kansas City de­ba­cle fea­tured six qual­ity starts and a 2.60 ERA, with home runs still a rel­a­tive prob­lem but not a crip­pling one. How­ever, in the fi­nal start of that run, June 23 at the At­lanta Braves, Bundy rolled his an­kle run­ning the bases and went on the dis­abled list. That was the last time his ERA was un­der 4.00 the en­tire sea­son.

He had just two qual­ity starts in the 10 af­ter his DL trip, al­low­ing at least five runs in six dur­ing that stretch. In his 15 starts af­ter the an­kle in­jury, he only held op­po­nents with­out a home run once.

So even with his qual­ity start on the penul­ti­mate day of the sea­son against the Hous­ton Astros, Bundy fin­ished with a 5.45 ERA — sec­ond high­est among qual­i­fied ma­jor league starters. It’s clear it was in­flated by home runs, with his xField­ing In­de­pen­dent Pitch­ing, which cal­cu­lates ERA based on fac­tors in a pitch­ers’ con­trol (walks and strike­outs) with the league-av­er­age home-run rate, com­ing in at 4.28.

It takes a his­toric home-run rate to get there. Ac­cord­ing to FanGraphs, Bundy al­lowed home runs at a rate that’s only been reached once this cen­tury. Bundy’s 2.15 home runs al­lowed per nine in­nings were the most since José Lima al­lowed 2.2 HR/9 for the Astros in 2000.

Only one other pitcher al­lowed more than two home runs per nine in­nings since — Bron­son Ar­royo’s 2.08 HR/9 in 2011 for the Cincin­nati Reds. Sid Fer­nan­dez gave up 2.11 home runs per nine in­nings for the Ori­oles in 1994. Those four and Min­nesota Twins pitcher Jim De­shaies, also in 1994, are the only qual­i­fied pitch­ers in base­ball his­tory to al­low more than two home runs per nine in­nings.

When Bundy, 25, was in the worst throes of the home-run-al­low­ing phase, he was able to di­ag­nose his prob­lems be­tween starts and im­prove. Noth­ing was as glar­ing as his lack of fin­ish in those early-May starts down the stretch, but the sea­son as a whole taught him how to di­ag­nose those prob­lems in the morn­ing.

“There’s times of that, just know­ing your de­liv­ery,” Bundy said. “As a start­ing pitcher, the big­gest thing is know­ing your de­liv­ery and be­ing able to ad­just one pitch at a time, or one pitch to an­other in-game, try­ing to cor­rect some­thing that’s not work­ing and giv­ing your team five, six, seven, eight, nine in­nings ev­ery time you take the mound.”

If noth­ing else, Bundy took pride in that. Twenty-three of his 31 starts were at least five in­nings, and 15 were qual­ity starts. And though his strug­gles came down the stretch, the fact that he was on reg­u­lar rest late in the sea­son and learn­ing to pitch in Septem­ber af­ter two years of hav­ing his sched­ule ad­justed for more rest in the sea­son’s fi­nal month was a big step for Bundy, who hopes to learn about his body and much more from his work­load this com­ing spring.

“For the most part, it was a healthy year, and my body felt good,” Bundy said. “That just shows what you’re do­ing in the off­sea­son, what you’re do­ing in the spring and what you’re do­ing in the course of the year to main­tain your body and what you’re do­ing, it’s huge. Ev­ery­one learns that over time and it took me a while with all the in­juries, but I think get­ting smarter and know­ing how to treat my body, and what I’ll need for a six or seven-month sea­son.”

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