With pitchers and catchers reporting in a couple of weeks, one of the more intriguing questions surrounding the Baltimore Orioles involves Dylan Bundy. Will he be in he rotation or bullpen? My personal opinion is that he’s earmarked for the rotation in the wake of the club trading Gallardo. But we’ll have to see.
First off if you include Bundy as a starter, that gives the Birds a rotation of (in no particular order) Tillman, Jimenez, Bundy, Gausman, and perhaps either Wright or Wilson. Who else is out there to contend for a spot? You see that I already included two people for that last rotation spot, so in essence they’re already somewhat thin.
My point is that whereas last year they really had no choice by to put Bundy in the bullpen, this year they may have no other choice but to start him. Unless they’re able to sign a veteran starter as a back-of-the-rotation guy, where else could Bundy go? Basically, the starting rotation is his and the Orioles’ only option right now.
The only scenario in which I see Bundy ending up back in the pen besides signing or trading for someone else would be if both Wilson and Wright have stellar springs and both end up in the rotation. And that’s entirely possible – they both muscled their way onto the roster in the wake of last year’s spring training. However I see one of them in the rotation and one in the bullpen – but both on the big league roster.
So that means that the O’s owe Bundy the opportunity to be stretched out a bit in the spring. I would expect him to get a significant amount of work, both publicly and perhaps not so publicly. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him start several “B games” on the back fields, and perhaps even a minor league game or two. And not that it really matters, but there’s also the final spring tuneup on March 31st at Harbor Park that he could start as well.
But with that said there’s also some maneuvering that the Orioles could do in the first two weeks or so. The schedule’s somewhat strange this year in the sense that the O’s have two off days in the first week. They open at home against Toronto, after which they’ll have the obligatory day off after Opening Day. They then finish what will be a disjointed two-game series on that Wednesday, and an off-day on Thursday before New York comes in on Friday for the weekend.
In other words, the Orioles won’t need a fifth starter right away. Heck, they won’t need a fourth starter for that matter! They’re also off on Monday April 10th before heading to Boston on April 11th for their first road series of the season. So not needing a fifth starter could push into the second week as well. And while we’re at it, they’re off on Monday Aprl 17th.
Bundy’s out of options, however if they needed to the Orioles could “invent” a minor injury for him and leave him behind in Sarasota. In fact if they played their cards right, they could backdate it so that they could send him on a rehab assignment so he’d be ready by mid-April. He certainly wouldn’t be the first pitcher to go through some minor tendinitis in Spring Training.
This is all speculation, however I do believe that Bundy will be a member of the rotation in 2017. Once the O’s need a fifth starter, that is!