Friday, May 25, 2018

Orioles Victory Card Number 16

Orioles victory number 16: 9-3 over the Chicago White Sox

2018 Topps Opening Day Jeremy Hellickson

Why hello there dominant Dylan Bundy.  That's what Orioles fans have been waiting to see for such a long, long time. A complete game victory with 14 strikeouts (a career high) on 121 pitches (86 for strikes).  The three runs he allowed came off of one swing of the bat - a home run by Jose Rondon in the fourth inning with two runners on. It's Dylan Bundy - of course the runs are going to come via the long ball.

During the outing, Bundy picked up his 300th strikeout as a starter. He arrived at that nice round number in his 53rd career start and apparently no Orioles starter has racked up that many strikeouts in so few starts. For the record he has 333 career K's in the books with 32 of them coming during relief appearances early in his career. It's an oddly specific record to achieve, but good on him for doing it!

It is the second career complete game for the former first round pick. His first was last year, a one-hit, twelve-strikeout gem against the Seattle Mariners last season. For the record no other Baltimore pitcher has a complete game over the last two seasons.  The last player not named Bundy to go the distance was Ubaldo Jimenez of all players. He retired the final 17 batters he faced in a September start against the Rays in 2016. You would have to go all the way back to 2011 to find a pitcher with multiple complete games in a season. That hurler - Jeremy Guthrie. He worked two games start to finish.

Bundy has a ways to go if he wants to capture the the career franchise record. Jim Palmer, who else, holds the record with 211 which included four seasons that he had at least 20 complete games. Bundy has started more than 20 games just once in his career - 28 last season.  Pretty sure that Mr. Palmer will be holding on to his record for well...forever.

Since 2000 only once has a pitcher completed 10 or more games in a season. Big Game James Shields had 11 for the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays. My how times have changed for that organization as they are at the forefront of the "bullpenning" movement. They plan on starting relief pitchers in all three games against the Orioles this weekend with Sergio Romo starting both Friday and Sunday night and fellow reliever Ryan Stanek starting on Saturday. The theory behind their process is that the relievers will work through the top of the order once and set up the "primary" pitchers to only have to deal with the opponent's best hitters twice through the rest of the game.

It's an interesting concept and will be fun to see if the Rays continue it through the rest of the season and if any other teams adopt a similar philosophy. I don't expect the Orioles, tradition bound as they are, to be one of the teams to copy Tampa's experiment.

For Bundy the complete game start was another solid effort in his wildly inconsistent season. He's mixed dominating starts in with absolute tire-fire outings en route to a 3-6 record. After starting the season off with four starts where he allowed 2 or fewer earned runs, he followed up with three starts allowing five or more including the infamous May 8th start against Kansas City where he allowed 7 runs without recording an out. Since then he's had three starts, 7 shut out innings against the Rays, four runs in six innings against the Red Sox and the complete game against the White Sox.

Home runs have been his biggest issue, allowing a total of 14 through almost 63 innings pitched this season. No longer possessing a blazing fastball (his four-seamer averages about 91.63) he gets hurt when he leaves the ball up in the zone. If he can pitch ahead in the count, as he did on Thursday, he can force his opponents to chase the slider out of the zone because it is quite a deceptive pitch.

Hopefully, for the sanity of Orioles fans, he has more starts like this throughout the rest of the season.

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