ARLINGTON – Angels starter Dylan Bundy’s numbers going into the series finals with the Rangers on Thursday were hideous, and it’s not just his 6.66 ERA – opponents who had an OPS of .850 against him and he wore a 1-8 Record. He hadn’t started six innings since May 2nd.
Desperate for answers, Bundy has tried to save his season by changing his mechanics in the middle, something pitchers don’t usually do; Wholesale changes are better left to the off-season when experimenting doesn’t jeopardize their livelihoods in real games. The coaches persuaded him to give it a try anyway, and he chose it because he knew this might be his only chance to get back into rotation after being demoted to the bullpen in late June.
“It took some persuasion,” said Bundy. “I didn’t want to do it in the middle of the season. … It was a low point for me at that one point in New York when I was sent to the pen. I had to change something. Trying not to miss your place by three inches in the major leagues is difficult. When you’re trying to create a whole new arm stroke and path in the back and try to do so in the middle of a season and get the major league hitters out of the game? But I had to change something. Here we go.”
Bundy’s short-arms the ball more now, with the idea that it will help his command. In fact, his fastball command has improved in two starts since his return to rotation. In Thursday’s 5-0 win over Rangers, Bundy threw 6 1/3 shutout innings, hit six, walked two and allowed three hits, all singles.
“His last outing was good too,” said manager Joe Maddon. “I think he was more comfortable with it today.”
Bundy’s success – albeit against the most docile offensive in the American League – gave the Angels (55-54) a 3-1 straight win, putting them over .500 for the third time in 19 days.
Adam Eaton and Jack Mayfield sped up the Halos offensive and scored the first two runs. Eaton hit a solo homer before Mayfield hit Singles and scored on a wild field. Mayfield had four hits in the last two games in the series, including a homer and a double.
Buoyed by a five-run lead, Bundy stepped into the seventh inning for the third time out of 16 starts this year – and the first time since April. Four of Bundy’s innings on Thursday were 1-2-3 frames clean, and he retired 13 battering in a row early.
“I’m just getting used to the stuff I’m working on, it shows up on the field and against the opposing team,” said Bundy. “It’s starting to feel better. It’s a work in progress. “
Though Bundy’s struggles stretch back to the start of the season, the Halos rotation has been particularly powerful since the All-Star hiatus. Including Bundy’s outing on Thursday, Angels’ starters have thrown 118 1/3 innings since the break with an ERA of 3.35 and a batting average of 0.198 opponents.