BOSTON – Darren O’Day is the unofficial leader of the Orioles bullpen, and one of his projects is mentoring Dylan Bundy.
Bundy, who has pitched just once so far this season is using the bullpen as a halfway house. He’s out of options, and can’t be sent to the minors without exposing him to waivers, but doesn’t have enough innings built up to be a starter.
While manager Buck Showalter has toyed with the idea of using Bundy as a starter perhaps as early as the second half of this season, for now, he’s in the pen and trying to learn from O’Day.
“I think pitching in the bullpen is a valuable tool to becoming a good starter. If you ask Kevin Gausman, he would tell you he learned a few things in the bullpen. Dylan has started his whole life, and we’re just trying to get him used to being in the bullpen, being ready to go from pitch one, not try and save anything, just try to get guys out every pitch,” O’Day said.
“It’s a pretty standard process for a guy trying to learn how to become a reliever. I don’t want to take sole credit for it. He’s been a sponge.”
O’Day says that Zach Britton, pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti have all helped Bundy, whose scoreless inning came on Thursday.
“The first thing is pitching with somebody else’s runs on base, learn how to come in in the middle of innings, warming up quickly, sitting for two hours, and then getting up in three minutes and getting ready to go, having all your pitches dialed in in 15 pitches,” O’Day said.
“It’s still pitching, but it’s a lot different in terms of preparations and situations. The differences are innumerable, and it’s an adjustment. You’ve got to learn how to do it. You can ask a starter, what the biggest thing is. I haven’t been a starter for a long time, so I don’t know what the adjustment is, but I know it takes guys a while.”
In the first six games, manager Buck Showalter has done something with Bundy a few times he doesn’t normally do, warm him up without putting him in the game.
“That will take some time. For him, it might not even be bad. I can imagine Dylan liked that because he got to throw more pitches. The other night Brad [Brach] got up and threw 10 pitches, and he was in the game. Dylan probably threw a few extra pitches, getting warmed up. I think sometimes Buck will get a guy up on purpose in a situation like that where he knows a guy might be anxious or excited where he can get some of that nervous energy out,” O’Day said.