Orioles rookie right-hander Dylan Bundy takes the mound Sunday a week away from completing his first full regular season in the major leagues, one that despite his evolving role has always had the goal of being a healthy one above all else.
To that end, Bundy, on his own free will, decided that the cut fastball hed been throwing for most of his life was causing some of the elbow, forearm and shoulder problemsthat limited him over the past three years, and took it out of his arsenal.
He has a 9-6record and a 4.13 ERA on the season, and a 4.73 ERA since joining the rotation at the All-Star break.But he has often thought about what his arsenal and his season would look like if he had his effective cutter back.
Absolutely, yeah, it does need to be [one of my offerings], Bundy said. But I think my health and getting a full year up here, and the amount of stress this first year is, getting that out of the way before adding that pitch. Really, I could get away without it if I was able to throw a little better two-seamer, I wouldnt need that cutter/slider thing. But I definitely need it. Id just rather get a full year healthy than risk it right now.
Currently, Bundy is working with a four-seam fastball, a changeupand a curveball. All of them have four-seam spin, and he does an adequate job replicating his arm speedon the secondary pitches to keep hitters deceived.But the 23-year-oldwas at his best in the minors with the cutter coming in a few miles per hour slower than his fastball and disrupting hitters timing.
With his current repertoire, a fastball with different spin than his four-seamer would make his above-average four-seam fastball play up even more.
A sinking two-seam fastball would go a long way toward making the cutter obsolete, but Bundy says he has yet to find one that works. As such, he really only throws it in 2-0 or 3-0 counts because he knows itll be in the zone, if not entirely effective.
Ive been experimenting with a two-seamer for 23 years, he said with a smile. I just dont know if its the arm slot or the way I finish or what, it just doesnt get a consistent movement on it. So when I throw it, its just to get a different spin for them to look at. Sometimes it moves, sometimes it doesnt.
In an ideal world, hed be able to complement his current arsenal with a two-seam fastball and a cutter.
Thatd make it a lot easier, wouldnt it? he said. I like the four-seam look Ive got going, the four-seam change, the four-seam curveball, fastball, and then the cutter/slider thing has similar four-seam spin to it.
If he ultimately decides to add the cutter back this offseason, hell do it slowly.
You never know, he said. Thats what kind of my plan was, to maybe start throwing it in the offseason a little bit--December, January, some time between there I might start playing around with it and starting playing catch with it, but not throw on the mound with it until spring. That was kind of my plan.