After breaking out last season in his first year with the club, right-hander Dylan Bundy was supposed to be the Angels' ace in 2021.
But Bundy has struggled early this season and it continued with a rough outing against the Red Sox in a 9-0 loss on Saturday at Fenway Park. Bundy allowed seven runs on eight hits and two walks over four-plus innings, falling to 0-5 with a 6.02 ERA through eight starts. The seven earned runs allowed tied a career-worst, and he’s now allowed 13 combined runs over his last two outings. But manager Joe Maddon said he’s not concerned just yet.
"I have so much faith in the guy,” Maddon said. “That's two in a row, I understand that. His last one started really well and then all of a sudden went away quickly. I don't have any answers. His stuff, overall, looks the same from the side, the numbers are the same, but according to [catcher Kurt] Suzuki, the execution wasn't as good today."
Bundy, an impending free agent, was hurt by the long ball on Saturday, as he served up a solo homer to Alex Verdugo in the first on a 1-2 changeup that caught too much of the plate. The backbreaker was a three-run shot allowed to Xander Bogaerts in the fifth that ended his outing and made it a 7-0 game. Bundy blamed spotty command for the homers.
"The first homer was a changeup I yanked down and in,” Bundy said. “Down and in is usually a hot spot for lefties. And then the Bogaerts homer there, it was just a fastball down the middle. These guys can hit those pitches easy. You can't throw them up here, it's as simple as that."
It was the second straight short outing for Bundy, who went 3 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on May 8, allowing six runs on five hits.
After the homer to Verdugo, Bundy found his rhythm until running into trouble in the fourth inning. Bogaerts led off with a double and Rafael Devers walked to put two runners on with nobody out.
Bundy nearly escaped the jam by retiring the next two batters and getting Bobby Dalbec to hit a relatively shallow fly ball to left field. But the Green Monster came into play and left fielder Justin Upton couldn't make a leaping catch against the wall, allowing two runs to score on an unlikely double. It had a launch angle of 46 degrees and an expected batting average of .010, per Statcast.
“The game kind of took a turn on the fly ball by Dalbec,” Maddon said. “That's a classic Fenway moment. Both sides have that opportunity but they got it done and it put us in a bad spot.”
Franchy Cordero followed with an RBI double to make it a three-run inning for the Red Sox. But the hard-luck double was indicative of what Bundy has been going through this season. Bundy’s peripheral stats such as his strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate remain solid and not much different than last year, yet his ERA has spiked this season.
"Last year, he was unbelievable, and this year, he's just leaving the ball up a little bit,” said superstar center fielder Mike Trout. “But Dylan is a grinder. He goes out there and battles. Even when he doesn't have his best stuff, he gives us a chance. It was obviously a rough one today but you know he'll turn the page and I want him out there every fifth day.”
As Trout noted, Bundy still has time to turn it around, and he’ll need to if the Angels are to get out of their recent funk. The Halos have now lost four in a row and 10 of their last 13 games to drop to six games under .500 at 16-22.
"It's eight starts in and we're not even halfway yet,” Bundy said. “We have time. Just gotta keep going out there and figure it out."