Frank Ammirante | February 7th, 2020
Dylan Bundy enters his age-27 season with a clean slate, having been traded from the lowly Baltimore Orioles to the contending Los Angeles Angels. The former top pitching prospect has been plagued by the long-ball, but a move to a new team could pay dividends for his 2020 production. Let’s take a deep dive to further examine why Bundy is an intriguing option for the upcoming season.
This is a pitcher who has an opportunity to rejuvenate his career on the West Coast. In order to become fantasy-relevant, Bundy needs to make some changes to his pitch mix. He will also benefit from his supporting cast in Los Angeles
Let’s start with Bundy’s fastball, which is his main issue. The pitch clocks at 91.1 MPH with limited movement, which allowed hitters to feast to the tune of a .285 xBA, .539 xSLG, .369 xwOBA, and .409 xwOBAcon. Bundy threw this pitch 42.4% of the time, which needs to change if he is to improve, not only because it’s getting pummeled, but because he has a great secondary pitch in his arsenal. Bundy’s slider allowed a .158 xBA, .247 xSLG, .221 xwOBA, and .314 xwOBAcon. The pitch induced an impressive 22.3 SwStr%, which is well above the league average of 16.5%. Bundy threw his slider 22.8% of the time, but this needs to change. He needs to take notes from Washington Nationals’ star pitcher Patrick Corbin, who throws his dominant slider 37.1% of the time. If Bundy can make this change to his pitch mix, we would likely see significant improvement in his overall production.
Bundy moves from a hitter’s park in Camden Yards, in a division stacked with strong lineups and similar bandboxes like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, to a pitcher’s park in Angel Stadium, in a division with similar environments like T-Mobile Park and Oakland Alameda County Stadium. This simple change in location should help decrease his bloated home run rate from 1.61 HR/9 to a more manageable level. Bundy will also benefit from a vast improvement in infield defense, as the Angels feature elite fielders like shortstop Andrelton Simmons and third baseman Anthony Rendon. This is especially impactful because last year, Bundy began to induce more ground-balls – his GB% increased from 34.0% to 41.5%. We can project improvement to his low strand rate of 70.5 LOB% due to this superior defense behind him.
You would be surprised to hear that Bundy’s 12.9 SwStr% ranked tied for 14th in MLB last season, ahead of studs like Walker Buehler, Noah Syndergaard, and Trevor Bauer. This is a young pitcher who will benefit greatly from increased slider usage, ballpark upgrade, and superior defense.
178.0 IP, 4.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 1.61 HR/9, 7.0 BB%, 23.4 K%
This projection does not account for the ballpark upgrade, as the 1.61 HR/9 would not be an improvement from the 2019 season. I think that we could see that home run rate decrease to his 2017 total of 1.38. If we see Bundy use his slider more, we can also project his strikeout rate to increase.
160.0 IP, 3.95 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 1.38 HR/9, 7.0 BB%, 25.0 K%
Bundy is currently being drafted at 294 ADP in NFBC leagues, behind pitchers like Reynaldo Lopez, which makes the former an intriguing sleeper target. Let’s not forget that this is a former top prospect with a nasty slider. Bundy just needs to follow in the footsteps of Corbin and the Angels could strike gold here. Target Bundy with confidence in your fantasy drafts.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images