Will Dylan Bundy stay healthy, and what will his role be?
Because he signed a major-league contract when he was drafted way back in 2011, Bundy is now out of options. He must be kept on the Orioles’ 25-man roster. Should the team try and sneak the oft-injured, former top prospect down to the minor leagues, the rest of the league will have a shot at him. Bundy has not pitched more than 50 innings in a season since 2012, but, for better or worse, will start 2016 as an Oriole.
Bundy will almost certainly start the season in the bullpen. Whether or not he can stay healthy is anyone’s guess. He was being pulled along extremely slowly at Double-A last year before a shoulder injury flared up, throwing only 25.0 innings in 11 starts. His Arizona Fall League season was also cut short. Despite the injuries, Bundy still has the type of stuff that makes scouts drool. He was striking out nearly 10 per nine in the minor leagues before being shut down.
Pitching in relief may actually suit Bundy more than starting. He’s got the type of stocky, fire-hydrant body that should suit the rigors of relieving rather than starting. He has not pitched deep into a game in over three years, and has not been faced with the challenges of seeing a lineup more than once. All of the injuries have slowed his development to the point where it may be easier to salvage big-league value by converting him to a flame-throwing reliever even beyond the 2016 season. The Orioles have had a hard enough time teaching and refining Gausman. Doing it on-the-fly against the best hitters in the world with Dylan Bundy seems like a recipe for disaster.