Should The Orioles Reconsider Their Timetable For Dylan Bundy?
Each week, PressBox baseball writers weigh in with their thoughts on a different question. Now, Stan "The Fan" Charles and Matt Palmer weigh in on whether the Orioles should reconsider their timetable for Dylan Bundy given the struggles the starting rotation has had this season.
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Not to sound overly cynical, but the Orioles' recent tumble seems like comfortable, albeit frustrating territory for O's fans. As it always seems to happen, the end seems to be accompanied by some horrendous starting pitching.
The 2012 Orioles have gotten to where they are now with a brilliant bullpen, which manager Buck Showalter has handled expertly. The Orioles have also been at times a formidable offense, but with the early season loss of left fielder Nolan Reimold and the prolonged absence of right fielder Nick Markakis, the attack is flawed. The Orioles' strong start was also accomplished in spite of one of the most embarrassing displays of defense ever by the home nine.
Then there is that aforementioned starting pitching. Yes, the club has gotten a brilliant half-season out of Jason Hammel, and, more times than not, quality starts from free-agent Wei-Yin Chen. After that, the positives have been few and far apart.
What at one time in the not-too-distant past looked like a brigade of starring starters named Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton has given way to the reality that some or all of this bunch may never reach the hoped-for heights.
So, as often is the case when a bad organization goes bad, the powers in charge look for an immediate fix. That's how most of these guys rose as quickly as they did -- they had the requisite talent and the club had the need for that talent.
In other words, it's the classic tail-wagging-the-dog scenario. Repeat after me: Young pitchers should come to the major leagues only when they are ready. … Got it? Now repeat it again, and yet again.
Although it might seem as if Dylan Bundy, the next great hope for an O's mound ace, looks the part, being battered around at the major league level could do some irreversible damage to his psyche. Maybe it wouldn't. Maybe he'd succeed. But, to what end?
You'd be asking a youngster with a golden arm to pitch with an intensity he hasn't yet been asked to put on display. You'd also be asking him to do this just about 3-4 weeks before you were planning to end his season anyway.
The larger issue is -- to what end would you be risking that? So that the Orioles avoid a 15th straight losing season? The Orioles are getting better. Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver was correct when he said during a June 30 pregame ceremony that Showalter and general manager Dan Duquette know their stuff.
Trust me, they know now is not the time for Dylan Bundy to be pressed into a service he isn't yet ready for.
By Matt Palmer
The Orioles can't and shouldn't revise anything to do with Dylan Bundy's timetable. Yes, Bundy has made pitching in the minors look easy at times, but that's exactly why he should stay there and continue to climb the ladder.
He's facing challenges in Class-A Frederick, and that's a great thing. He needs to learn to adjust. The majors will not be easy. It's not for anyone, especially young players.
The Orioles rushed Ben McDonald to the big leagues during the late 1980s and early '90s, and they paid the price. McDonald didn't have an average career because he was rushed, but it certainly didn't help, either. McDonald was a can't-miss project, much like Bundy. He had a mind-blowing fastball, too. What did that get him in the end?
Bundy needs to learn how to pitch. If you only dominate inferior competition, you're going to have your confidence shattered when that doesn't happen anymore. The Orioles will need to monitor Bundy closely this week as he plays in the Futures Game July 8 in Kansas City.
He'll rightfully be amongst the best and brightest young players in the game, but the attention surrounding him will intensify. The questions about his timetable will only increase. The temptations will only get worse if the Orioles are in the playoff hunt, despite not having great arms on the mound most nights. The bullpen is strong, but the rotation is weak.
If Bundy gets in a pressure situation and blows it, imagine what that will do to a 19-year-old kid. People talk about his maturity, and that's something to build upon in the minors. That maturity will come in handy next season, when the Orioles are truly ready to move to the next level. The Orioles need pitching right now, but they don't need Dylan Bundy. It's not right to rush him.
Posted July 4, 2012. Updated July 5, 2012