ARLINGTON -- Angels starter Dylan Bundy’s numbers heading into Thursday’s series finale with the Rangers were beastly, and not just his 6.66 ERA -- opponents had an OPS of .850 against him and he carried a 1-8 record. He hadn’t gone six innings in a start since May 2.
Desperate for answers, Bundy has been trying to redeem his season by changing his mechanics in the middle of it, something pitchers are usually loath to do; wholesale changes are better left to the offseason when experimentation doesn’t put their livelihoods at risk in real games. Coaches talked him into trying it anyway, and he went for it knowing it might be his only chance to get back into the rotation after a demotion to the bullpen in late June.
“It took some convincing,” Bundy said. “I didn’t want to do it during the middle of the season. … It was about rock bottom for me at that one point in New York when I got sent to the ‘pen. I had to change something. When you’re trying not to miss your spot by three inches in the big leagues, it’s hard to do. When you’re trying to create a whole new arm stroke and path on the back side, and trying to do that in the middle of a season, and get Major League hitters out? But I had to change something. So here we go.”
Bundy’s short-arms the ball more now, with the idea being that it will help his command. Indeed, in two starts since being promoted back to the rotation, his fastball command has improved. In Thursday’s 5-0 win over the Rangers, Bundy tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings, struck out six, walked two and allowed three hits, all singles.
“His last outing was good, too,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I think today he was more comfortable with it.”
Bundy’s success -- albeit against the American League’s most docile offense -- gave the Angels (55-54) a 3-1 series victory and put them above .500 for only the third time in the last 19 days.
Adam Eaton and Jack Mayfield paced the Halos’ offense, scoring the first two runs. Eaton hit a solo homer before Mayfield singled and scored on a wild pitch. Mayfield had four hits in the last two games of the series, including a homer and a double.
Buoyed by a five-run lead, Bundy pitched into the seventh inning for the third time in 16 starts this year -- and the first time since April. Four of Bundy’s innings Thursday were clean 1-2-3 frames, and he retired 13 batters in a row early on.
“Just getting used to the stuff that I’m working on, it’s starting to kind of show itself on the field and against the opposing team,” Bundy said. “It’s starting to feel better. It’s a work in progress.”
Though Bundy’s struggles date back to early in the season, the Halos’ rotation has been especially capable since the All-Star break. Including Bundy’s outing Thursday, Angels starters have thrown 118 1/3 innings with a 3.35 ERA and a .198 opponents’ batting average since the break.