Bundy thriving after long wait to get on mound

Right-hander allowed two runs over first 12 innings in June

Bundy thriving after long wait to get on mound

BALTIMORE -- Orioles fans have longed to see 2011 fourth overall pick Dylan Bundy dealing on the mound at Camden Yards. Tommy John surgery in 2013 and a shoulder injury in 2015 kept him off a Major League mound for three straight years.

But his long wait to return to Baltimore ended this season, and the Orioles have been reaping the benefits in June. After tossing three scoreless innings of relief in Sunday's 12-5 win over the Rays, Bundy has allowed two runs over 12 innings while striking out 13 this month.

"I'm throwing off-speed pitches now in fastball counts and locating, kind of keeping hitters off-balance, but still going at them at the same time," Bundy said.

Because Bundy entered the season without Minor League options, the Orioles have to either keep him on the Major League roster or place him on waivers. While he could ideally build his arm strength back as a starter in the Minors, that isn't an option. Instead, the Orioles have resorted to using him as a long reliever out of the bullpen.

Bundy struggled for a stretch in May -- he allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings from May 19 to May 24 -- but he's been dominant lately. He hasn't allowed a run since June 4, and has become a valuable member of the O's second-ranked bullpen.

"Dylan was probably one of the keys to the game," manager Buck Showalter said. "Really proud of how he's kind of come on and been a contributor as opposed to a guy who's out of options."

The Orioles have been trying to give Bundy three or four days rest between outings if the situations allow for it, which has enabled him to stay on similar schedule to the one he is used to as a starter.

Showalter, who said he considered Bundy as an option for last Wednesday's spot start against San Diego, could use him as a starter at some point this season. Bundy threw a season-high 57 pitches on Sunday as he continues to be stretched out.

"It's hard to get exactly four days off and then get the perfect situation to put [me in] for four innings," Bundy said. "But I did notice my pitch count was 57 or 58, and that's good for me to get my pitch count up. Not good for a normal reliever."

Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.