by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The story of Dylan Bundy is a roller coaster one, to say the least. Long considered one of the elite prospects in the game, injuries helped to derail him early on in his career. Finally healthy and on the mound, now there are a new set of obstacles that are holding him back and you have to wonder if he’ll ever be able to reach what was once seen as his true upside. Just consider the overall numbers from 2018:
184 Strikeouts (9.65 K/9)
54 Walks (2.83 BB/9)
34.0% Groundball Rate
The control is solid and the strikeouts are there, courtesy of a 12.7% SwStr%… Or are they? There are questions about his ability to maintain a strikeout per inning pace, and with the biggest elephant in the room (his propensity to allow home runs) it makes you wonder if he’ll ever become one of the truly great starters in the league.
In terms of his strikeout rate, he was fairly inconsistent in 2018, with three months of 10.74 or better and three months of 8.53 or worse. His slider is a proven swing and miss pitch (26.04% Whiff%), the problem is getting to it. The truth is that his slider was the only productive pitch that he had a year ago (BAA/SLG):
- Fourseam Fastball – .302/.574
- Sinker – .273/.418
- Changeup – .361/.733
- Curveball – .419/.645
- Slider – .178/.370
It’s hard to be productive like that, and the home run issues only cloud the issue further. Obviously it’s hard to envision him maintaining a 2.15 HR/9, but the truth is that he doesn’t generate many groundballs, pitches in a hitter friendly ballpark and has to routinely try to maneuver through the Yankees and Red Sox lineups. Maybe he improves from last year’s 41 HR barrage, but would a 1.40-1.60 HR/9 be an unrealistic expectation? That would still put him among the worst in the league and help to cap his value.
You put it all together and you get the following projection for 2019:
180.0 IP, 12 W, 4.60 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 174 K (8.70 K/9), 55 BB (2.75 BB/9)
Solid control is nice, but the risk of a more pedestrian strikeout rate and the continued home run issues are going to limit his value. Pitching in the AL East is never easy, and when you are home run prone it gets that much tougher. It’s easy to look at the name and try to get excited, but the fact is that the upside simply isn’t there at this point.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections: