Dylan Bundy was supposed to be the Los Angeles Angels’ ace this season. After the 60-game season — where he put up legitimate Cy Young numbers — Bundy was 2021’s Opening Day starter. And while some regression was perhaps to be expected, no one could have seen his complete collapse coming.
In his first 14 starts of the season, he had a 6.78 ERA, an opponent OPS of .871, and allowed more than one hit per inning of work. Then, he got demoted to the bullpen to help him rebuild his confidence and his mechanics. While there, Bundy switched things up. He began to short-arm the ball, hoping that it will improve command.
He showed some improvement out of the bullpen, but then when he was thrust back into the starting rotation due to an Alex Cobb injury, he found his stride. Bundy spoke about what led to the change in his mechanics despite early reluctance to do so, according to Dave Sessions of MLB.com:
“It took some convincing,” Bundy said. “I didn’t want to do it during the middle of the season. … It was about rock bottom for me at that one point in New York when I got sent to the ‘pen. I had to change something. When you’re trying not to miss your spot by three inches in the big leagues, it’s hard to do. When you’re trying to create a whole new arm stroke and path on the back side, and trying to do that in the middle of a season, and get Major League hitters out? But I had to change something. So here we go.”
Pitchers very rarely change their mechanics in the middle of the season for numerous reasons. However, it was either a significant change for Bundy or he would spend the rest of the season in the bullpen, something that would drastically affect his potential earnings in free agency.
Bundy has now made two starts since his return to the rotation. After giving up three runs in the first inning of his first start against the Oakland Athletics, he has now pitched 9.2 consecutive innings without allowing a run to score.
He is starting to look like the pitcher we saw in the shortened 2020 season, one that doesn’t blow batters away with his velocity, but forces bad contact and swings-and-misses with slow breaking balls and good command.
Angels sticking with seven-man rotation
Now that the Angels made some calls to the Minor Leagues and all of their starters are actually pitching well, it’s put them in an unusual situation. Once Cobb returns healthy, they will have seven starters in their rotation, and Joe Maddon — for now — says he is going to keep it that way.