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In new environs, Bundy a breakout candidate

@RhettBollinger
February 14, 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Dylan Bundy worked hard to improve his durability with the Orioles in recent years, and the Angels believe he can turn the corner and become a more effective pitcher in 2020 and beyond. The Angels acquired Bundy in a trade with Baltimore for four Minor Leaguers

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Dylan Bundy worked hard to improve his durability with the Orioles in recent years, and the Angels believe he can turn the corner and become a more effective pitcher in 2020 and beyond.

The Angels acquired Bundy in a trade with Baltimore for four Minor Leaguers on Dec. 4, and he remains under team contractual control through the 2021 season. The 27-year-old has a career 4.67 ERA in five seasons with the Orioles but has averaged just shy of 30 starts and 168 innings in each of the last three seasons. His ability to eat up innings will be important for the Angels, but he’s hoping for more quality innings this season.

“I like to think I’m still young,” said Bundy, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 Draft. “There’s always room for improvement no matter who you are. It’s just finding out what works for you. I think the hitters will let you know.”

Bundy made some changes last year, switching to an over-the-head delivery around the All-Star break to help with his tempo, while also mixing in more two-seamers to improve his ground-ball rate. Bundy, who gave up a Major League-high 41 homers in 2018, saw that dip to 29 in ’19 while also increasing his ground-ball rate from 34% to 41.5%, per Fangraphs.com.

Bundy finished the year with a 4.79 ERA, 162 strikeouts and 58 walks in 161 2/3 innings while reaching 30 starts for a second straight year. He fared better late in the season, posting a 3.99 ERA over his last 10 starts.

Spring Training predictions for Angels

“I think in the second half I started throwing a couple more two-seamers,” Bundy said. “But I wouldn’t say I did it on purpose. The hitters weren’t hitting certain pitches, so I started to throw it more. The biggest factor is if the hitters are hitting it, don’t throw it. Throw something else. The hitters always let you know if it’s working or not.”

Angels manager Joe Maddon thinks Bundy could be in for a breakout season, especially getting out of the American League East and into the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in the AL West. Bundy has a career 5.11 ERA in 279 2/3 innings against AL East opponents but a 4.30 ERA in 334 2/3 innings against all other clubs.

“He’s been pitching in spots that are really difficult,” Maddon said. “I’m curious to get him more at sea level out there, playing in games at our ballpark. Let’s just see how it plays out, because I like his stuff. Conversationally, he totally knows who he is and what he’s doing. Giving him ideas on how to parcel out his stuff, putting him in a different environment, getting him out of that division in and of itself should make him a better pitcher.”

Angels tidbits
• Former Angels third baseman Troy Glaus, the 2002 World Series MVP, was a guest of Maddon at Angels camp on Friday, bringing along the youth travel ball team he coaches. Maddon has made it a point to bring more former Angels to Spring Training this year.

• Left-hander Patrick Sandoval, who had been out with flu-like symptoms, arrived at camp on Friday but said he’s not sure when he’ll throw his first bullpen session. Sandoval recently had dinner with Maddon -- along with Griffin Canning and Ty Buttrey -- so that Maddon could get a better feel for his young pitchers and what they bring to the clubhouse culture. It’s an important spring for Sandoval, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation.

“I’m going to do whatever I can do in my power to try to win that spot,” Sandoval said. “We'll see how that all goes.”

• Lefty reliever José Quijada also arrived at camp on Friday after being claimed off waivers from the Marlins on Monday. Quijada, 24, is the lone left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster but will have to prove he can get right-handers out, especially with the new three-batter-minimum rule. But Quijada, who has a career 2.95 ERA in 280 2/3 innings in the Minors, actually fared better against righties than lefties at Triple-A last year, which should help his case.

• Several Angels position players participated in informal workouts on Friday, including left fielder Justin Upton, third baseman Anthony Rendon, infielders Tommy La Stella and Luis Rengifo, and outfield prospects Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. Angels position players officially report on Sunday, with the first full workout on Monday.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.