(This article and the stats within do not include Bundy’s June 7th start)
As we enter June, the Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim are under .500 with a 24-30 record, and without Mike Trout. Many of the Angels players have not matched their pre-season expectations and the Angels have been a major disappointment because of it. One of the players currently underperforming is right-handed pitcher Dylan Bundy, but there are questions about if Bundy really is underperforming.
In his lone previous season as an Angel, Bundy finished with a 3.19 ERA and a FIP/xFIP combination of 2.95/3.25 over 11 starts (65.2 innings). He also struck out hitters at a career-high 27% rate while keeping hitters to a hard contact rate in the 75th percentile of the league (32.9%). Unfortunately, at the beginning of June, he has a disappointing 6.49 ERA over 10 starts and 51.1 innings pitched. In addition, Bundy has given up a disappointing 2.10 HR/9, which ranks third highest in the league behind only Robbie Ray and Kyle Hendricks.
Fans have the right to be skeptical about Bundy’s early-season results due to his 6.49 ERA, but there are plenty of signs that Bundy’s 6+ ERA days are over and that he could progress as the season rolls along for an Angels team that is in desperate need of help.
THUS FAR, Bundy’s FIP/xFIP isn’t amazing or even good, but his 3.91 SIERA and 3.30 xERA offer plenty of hope for the former Oriole’s top prospect. Bundy has taken a step back in the whiffs department, where his 29.3% whiff rate in 2020 has regressed to 25.6% in 2021, but he ranks in the 93rd percentile in chase rate at 33.9%. However, in 2020 Bundy set career highs on opponent whiffs on chase pitches (61.4%), and dating back to the 2018 season, Bundy has had a chase whiff percent plus above 100 each season (league average is 100).
During the 2020 season, Bundy posted a career-high 27% strikeout rate, but through 2021 he has seen a slight decrease in his whiff/strikeout numbers. Although Bundy hasn’t been a big strikeout guy this season and most of his career, he has improved upon last season’s 61.4% whiff rate on chase pitches which he has upped to 62.8%. Over the past two seasons, Bundy has gotten the most whiffs with the slider with a 50% whiff rate, but in 2021 hitters are only whiffing at the pitch 37.8% of the time. Before this year, Bundy’s slider had been very good for a long time and the last time it drew a whiff rate below 47.2% was in 2017. In 2021, the slider has disappointing results, giving up a .226/.219 BA/xBA with opponents slugging .453 off the pitch, although the .385 xSLG offers room for optimism.
Bundy’s fastball has been flat-out not good. Hitters are slugging .556 off the pitch with a .483 xSLG, but the pitch is drawing a decent amount of whiffs (21.4%). On breaking pitches since 2017, Bundy has kept hitters to an xSLG south of .400 in consecutive years, but unfortunately, the results haven’t been so kind. The off-speed pitches for Bundy, apart from his 2020 season, have also been disappointing but have seen decreased use with more fastballs which have evidently hurt the Angels starter.
What To Expect:
Bundy is by no means going to blow a gasket and evolve into the ace of the Angels. But he certainly is more than capable of being a mid-rotation starter for an Angels team trying to compete in the Mike Trout era. While Bundy has seen his strike % soar to a career-high 67.6%, it could perhaps be one of the main factors in the disappointing start. If there weren’t any more signs pointing toward Bundy progressing, the differential in his ERA, north of 6, and his pERA of 3.88 should offer some comfort for Angels fans.
As I previously mentioned, the stats in the article don’t include Bundy’s June 7th start (same night as I type this). However, that start is important because it showed that the recent spin rate declines of Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer may also effect Dylan Bundy.
In that start, Bundy threw 5.2 innings with only two earned runs and no walks, despite only striking out two. However, it is hard not to acknowledge the obvious decrease in spin rate/velocity with the news of MLB’s crackdown on foreign substances. Bundy had a really rough month of May, surrendering 23 earned runs over 21 innings and only striking out 19. His April wasn’t great but wasn’t horrible, a description often applicable to Bundy. Lastly, this start could be used to question the legitimacy of the spin rate increase on the pitch in 2021, but fans shouldn’t be worried given how good Bundy’s slider had been over the previous seasons.