A year ago, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman were embarking on the 2017 season and seemed "
primed and ready
" to lead the Baltimore Orioles' starting rotation.
That was 2017. Now, the 2018 season is a month away, and fans are still waiting for greatness.
Bundy, taken by the Orioles fourth-overall out of Owasso High School (Oklahoma) in the 2011 MLB Draft, was quickly sidelined when he underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2013. Further complicating his path to the majors was a shoulder calcification issue that greatly shortened his 2015 season.
In his three years with the Orioles -- including a two-game stint with the team in 2012 -- Bundy has gone 23-15 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 281 innings and 42 starts. In his first big league season in 2016, Bundy worked as a reliever for a significant portion of the season.
Now 25, Bundy was prone to some inconsistencies throughout the 2017 season, which marked his first full season as a starter. However, his full body of work certainly shows he could be a solid No. 2 guy in the rotation.
In 2017, Bundy went 13-9 with a 4.24 ERA, which was certainly a nice step forward in his career, but more than anything, the fact that he started 28 times and threw 169.2 innings proves the team has finally taken all limitations off him moving forward. While reaching 200 innings still seems like a stretch, 109 innings and 31 starts clearly looks doable.
Bundy's pitching partner, Gausman, was selected with the fourth-overall pick out of LSU in 2012. You'd have thought the older, college-aged pitcher would have come along faster and more consistently.
But, as so often happens to teams that lack pitching depth, the under developed prospect was thrown to the wolves.
In parts of five seasons in the minor leagues, Gausman only threw 175 innings while going 4-15 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Gausman was never allowed to bloom and dominate at any one level, because he was force-fed at the big league level.
The lack of polish always showed, and his 34-43 record, 4.18 ERA and 1.34 WHIP are respectable, but not the stuff that makes an ace or No. 2 starter.
His rush to the big leagues and the shuffle between the majors and minors that Gasuman endured clearly mitigated his stats and confidence. But he certainly had enough flashes of greatness during the second halves of the 2016 and 2017 season to prove he has the stuff. In August and September of 2016 Gausman threw 76.1 innings, going 7-4 with a 2.82 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Both of those numbers would be solid for a No. 2 starter.
His strong finished to the 2016 season fueled both the expectation of a star-turn in 2017 and the high level of disappointment when he again struggled for first three months before a solid second half of 2017. From July-September, Gausman was 7-5 over 100.2 innings with a 3.48 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.
There hasn't been much optimism surrounding the 2018 Orioles. So far this offseason, all executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has done to bolster the rotation is sign right-hander Andrew Cashner -- who has a 42-64 career record -- and bet on a bounce-back season from right-hander Chris Tillman.
Despite all that, there's no denying the fact that if the 2018 Orioles are going anywhere at all, it'll be on the long-awaited arrivals of the two young arms they've bet so much on.
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