Dylan Bundy has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the Majors this season and he kept it going with yet another dominant performance in a 6-0 win over the A’s on Tuesday night, securing a series win vs. the division leaders at Angel Stadium. With homers from Anthony Rendon, Jason Castro, Brian Goodwin and David Fletcher behind Bundy, the Angels are tied for the Major League lead with 32 on the year.
Bundy continues to thrive in a new setting after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Orioles. He threw seven scoreless innings, scattering four hits and a walk, while striking out 10 batters. Bundy (3-1) has a 1.57 ERA and 35 strikeouts in a Major League-leading 28 2/3 innings.
“It's getting to the point now where it's the expectation, he's just been pitching that well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It's the real deal. I mean the the pitches are that sharp, the swings are not good and the takes are bad.”
Coming off a complete game against the Mariners on Thursday, Bundy kept it rolling against the A’s, rarely finding himself in trouble. He reached double-digits in strikeouts in back-to-back starts for the second time in his career and the first time since 2017.
Bundy has leaned on his slider more this year, and it’s been paying off. Of his 103 pitches, he threw just 23 four-seam fastballs compared to 35 sliders, 19 changeups, 17 sinkers and nine curveballs. He registered 17 swings and misses, including nine with the slider, four with the four-seamer and four with the changeup. He made several hitters, including Mark Canha and Khris Davis, look foolish swinging at sliders in the dirt.
"I'm feeling pretty good, good as I can right now," Bundy said. "The slider is a go-to always. I'm trying to make the other offspeed pitches just as good. So we're learning and trying to get better every day."
Angels catcher Jason Castro said Bundy’s plus command of all four of his pitches is what sets him apart, as his changeup has also become more effective. Bundy’s throwing his fastball at the lowest rate in his career by far, and he even threw a few changeups to right-handed hitters, showing his confidence in the pitch and giving hitters one more thing to worry about.
“He's a strike-thrower, and it's something we've been using to his advantage,” Castro said. “He's been working ahead and mixing speeds. The command is on with everything he throws. He's really impressed me, and he's a pleasure to work with."
Bundy was locked in a pitchers' duel with Mike Fiers until the Angels broke out for a five-run fourth inning, keyed by three homers. Rendon went deep for the second straight day and has been heating up at the plate. He was the first to leave the yard, with a leadoff blast to left on a 1-2 sinker from Fiers.
“He’s still selective at the plate and he's not chasing, but when they're coming into his area now they’re going fair and hard, and that's all a hitter can ask for,” Maddon said of Rendon. “So I think he's officially on the cusp of being very toasty.”
After singles from Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols, Castro jumped all over a 3-1 fastball over the heart of the plate for a three-run blast. Two batters later, Goodwin smacked Fiers’ 1-2 fastball for a solo shot.
Fletcher joined the homer parade with a solo shot down the left-field line off reliever Daniel Mengden in the sixth. It was the third homer in 18 games this year for Fletcher, who homered six times in 154 games last season.
"It's contagious," Maddon said. "Just like the lack of hitting is, so is when you do actually start hitting the ball and start squaring them up. Up and down the lineup, the guys look really good at the plate. It's a good feeling. We've already won the series, but you cannot be satisfied with that. You've got to come out tomorrow and really try to take that third game."