Dylan Bundy Takes Perfect Record To Mound Tonight

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The best prospect matchup for tonight will undoubtedly be at Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, Md., where low Class A Hagerstown righthander Alex Meyer will face Delmarva's Dylan Bundy.

It will be interesting to see if Meyer, a first-round pick of the Nationals out of Kentucky last June, can turn things around after a rough first two starts. But that will only be the sideshow, as most everyone will be more interested in seeing if Hagerstown can do anything against Bundy.

The Orioles righthander has not given up so much as a baserunner in his first two starts, totaling six innings. He's had one ball struck solidly in 76 pitches—and that was on a foul ball.

But here's where it gets frightening, he's actually making it easier for South Atlantic League hitters than he needs to.

Delmarva pitching coach Troy Mattes is the first to admit that Bundy could carve his way through lineups just by locating his 95-99 mph fastball on the corners with an occasional curveball thrown in to keep hitters off balance.

But Bundy also knows that his success will not be determined by the stat line he puts up in Delmarva, so he's also working on his changeup, even if it sometimes means it's giving hitters the only pitch they can hit.

"He's doing a good job of incorporating things we've talked about, like mixing in the changeup," Mattes said. "Right now he could get away with just throwing the fastball (because) hitters are late on his fastball. But he understands the process. He understands he needs to mix in his changeup to get hitters out at upper levels."

According to Mattes, the only pitch that a hitter has hit solidly came because Bundy was working on his changeup. After throwing a couple of fastballs that clearly overmatched a hitter, he threw a changeup that was pulled foul. Hitters who can't catch up to 98 mph are happy to finally see something coming in at 88, even if it is a good changeup.

"It's tough because when he throws that changeup it's at a speed hitters can catch up to. It's difficult to go out and throw a pitch that hitters know they could get solid wood on," Bundy said.

Don't feel too sorry for Bundy, even with development concerns trumping on-field results at times, he's still proving unhittable for Sally League hitters. The only saving grace for batters is that they are seeing Bundy in small doses.

The Orioles have mapped out Bundy's innings per outing for the entire season with the idea that they can ensure he pitches into September. That means he's starting out at three innings an outing. The three-inning limit will be removed after tonight's start, as he will ramp up to four innings for his next three starts, then be allowed to go five innings after that.

"One of the keys is getting him used to a full season," Mattes said. "You don't want to shut him down in August because of where he is inning-wise . . . It's been very well scheduled out, but we can add subtract a little at the end of the year."

The Orioles also have Bundy working in a six-man rotation, which means he's going to the mound five times a month instead of six. More important than the reduction of innings that brings, Mattes says the six-day schedule gives each starter two bullpen sessions between starts instead of one.