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Dylan Bundy was a particularly hard asset to value on draft day.

We had just over 100 innings with a 4.70 FIP and a swinging strike rate of 10.5% that didn’t really turn any heads. Tales of the prospect he once was lingered in broadcasts as announcers imagined a day when the highly talented righty would emerge from the darkness of his injury-plagued past and blossom into the Orioles’ ace.

That day was Wednesday…

The issue was simple. The skill set we’d been exposed to with Bundy was assessed without his best pitch. Give me any pitcher in the game, knock off their best pitch, and you’re looking at an ERA north of 4, or higher for most.

Inefficiency in the ‘Bundy market’ was an understandable one. We should have been more in tune with the disclosure by Buck Showalter and the Orioles’ front office that Bundy would go back to throwing the slider during the 2017 season. The problem is, even if we were salient of that point, projecting how a player would do with a pitch we’ve never really seen at the Major League level is nearly impossible. The only evidence you had to back up a wild claim in March that Bundy could be a top 20 SP this year was gut feeling with a sprinkling of his past prospect days. It is possible to convince some of that logic, but the goal is to generate buzz and momentum among owners in the fantasy universe. That is much harder to do when the case for this potential success isn’t one rooted in strong tangible evidence.

Back to Bundy’s start Wednesday, this slider of his is for real.

He threw it 31% of the time, which sits in between the usage rates of Noah Syndergaard’s (21% in 2016) and Chris Archer’s (40% in 2016) respective sliders.

Bundy also generated 14 whiffs on his slider. To put that in perspective, Syndergaard got a total of 15 whiffs in his entire Opening Day start. Burying the pitch out of the strike zone and keeping the swinging strikes at such an elite level is a recipe for continued success. Bundy was able to do both in superb fashion. Below is his zone profile for the 31 sliders he threw.

It’s also important to note that this slider is the ‘go-to’ offering against righties, but was also effective versus left handed bats. Bundy mixed in his curve to lefties at almost as equal rate to his slider, and didn’t see a staunch difference in results. I’m a big fan of the effectiveness versus both sides of the plate and am interested to see how his splits versus lefties and righties look come a larger sample size. At the moment it’s very hard to find something one doesn’t like from this first start.

The massive elephant in the room, which seems to be a recurring factor with a lot of my starting pitching loves (James Paxton – so far, so good!), is how Bundy’s arm holds up. I’m encouraged by the lack of use in his slider in 2016, as many believe it was the main reason for the need of Tommy John. Strengthening his arm is vital for his ability to stay on the mound, so this can only be a positive in hindsight. I do acknowledge that the injury risk is still present, and probably to a high level. If Bundy feels any bit of soreness, I wouldn’t be shocked if there is a shutdown for the sake of caution. Skipping starts will likely come into the picture too if the Orioles see themselves as contenders. There are a lot of paths to 150 innings, but it could be a bit rocky.

The overall effectiveness is why I’m willing to hop on that rocky road

It’s easy to overreact to one start, but as we all know in fantasy baseball, if you don’t react, somebody else will. With the stats this outing gave us, I would’ve supported a plethora of moves to acquire Bundy off waivers or via your FAAB bidding process. With two good starts this coming week, we could be looking at some Trevor Story, circa 2016, trade values as well. Damped a little because of the inherent risk in trading for a starter.

Those two good starts will have to be earned in the trenches. Bundy is projected to face the Red Sox in Fenway on Tuesday, followed up by the Blue Jays in Toronto on Sunday. If you ever wanted a barometer for how good a breakout pitcher is, this is a fantastic fire to be thrown into.

I will be watching closely, and starting Bundy in both matchups.

Here at Razzball, the projection for Bundy was 130 Ks over 141 innings, with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. This has to be reassessed to some extent come a week or two down the road and continued success. Pre season, this was very reasonable, and even maybe a bit optimistic. Now I see it as the floor if his innings total holds up. Armed with this slider, Bundy is going to be a 9+ K/9 pitcher, with a WHIP that will fall more in the 1.20 area, or lower if this control is the new norm.

I’m in the process of moving Bundy into the top 200 overall on my rankings after I had him 218 during draft season. I currently would take him over Drew Smyly, Taijuan Walker, and Garrett Richards. Once you hit the tier inside the top 150, I’d probably have to stick it out and see a few more starts to confirm the greatness. Incremental moves with each start will probably be my path to my developing love for a pitcher with sky-high potential.

 
  1. Nick says:
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    let’s talk about sex , babe ….

    so far so long, early birds…

    one wants my BoomBundy / J-K-Paxton for His DeGrom / Weanny-Wright

    …De Grom is a Temptation

    (regular 1season league)

    Nick

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Nick:
      Tough one, I’m extremely high on Paxton, but I think I would take the deGrom side here.

      Bundy/Pax have a lot of risk, and I LOVE them both, but you’re getting back an SP in deGrom that I have top 6-7 SP overall. His velo back to 2015 levels is terrifying, in a good way.

      Going to take the proven ace.

  2. Christopher Hadvab says:
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    Drop manaea for bundy?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Christopher Hadvab:
      I’ll have Bundy ranked above Manaea most likely after my re-ranks, so yes.

      But is Manaea really your worst SP?

      • Scott says:
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        Shallow league

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @Scott:
          Yeah, I have no problem going Bundy over Manaea then

  3. indefiniteinfinite says:
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    Using Dylan as prospect bait, what kind of haul would you expect to get while he’s hot like fire?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @indefiniteinfinite:
      All about finding the right owner in a situation like this.

      I think if you can get an established arm, with a bit less risk near the 100-150 range (think the new Dallas Keuchel profile and above), it would be worth doing, but otherwise I’d hold on for a few more starts and see where he takes you.

      As bats are safer, I would be thrilled to get a top 150 overall guy back (maybe an owner worried about JBJ, or a combo buy low sell high on any struggling bat).

      The big problem with Bundy value assimilation is league format. I could’ve written a whole article on that alone.

      If you’re in daily lock roto (like RCLs) the SP replacement value is so high that I doubt you’ll get many good offers. In contrast, say you’re in a CBS style league with an RP slot, Bundy’s value is up there with some much better arms.

      The balance format for his value would be weekly lock roto, like NFBC leagues. That’s where I think you can find some ”buy high” owners, and maybe get a JBJ-Keuchel level talent back.

      • indefiniteinfinite says:
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        @Lance: thanks for all the great suggestions! It’s a 16 team keeper (keep 15) Roto syle league. Current offers: Margot, Bellinger, or Robles. Tempted to grab Robles.

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @indefiniteinfinite:
          No problem,

          Those are nice offers. How’s you contention window looking? If you don’t mind risking the upside of Bundy this year and next, and abide by the trade risky SPs, I’d take Robles. It’s an investment, but it could pay off nicely down the road.

          If you’re talking 2017-2018 specifically though, I’d want this Bundy upside.

          Margot definitely behind the other two. Robles above Bellinger as I’m sure a lot of others would agree.

  4. fknboz says:
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    Thanks for Who should I drop for Bundy: Taijuan Walker or Ivan Nova? I’m in a QS league and here are my starters:

    Danny Duffy
    Aaron Nola
    Kevin Gausman
    Kenta Maeda
    Taijuan Walker
    Ivan Nova

    I’m leaning toward Taijuan because upside but I’ve owned him before and a little sick of waiting for him to catch up with his talent. Also Nova is pitching well, seems less erratic and might hedge the youth on my pitching staff? I have zero data to support that strategy.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @fknboz:
      Hahahaha

      I think it’s a bit early to give up on Taijuan this season if you bought in. If anything that 7k start was encouraging. I know Grey is very high on him, I am not, but I understand the reasoning behind the love (former prospect, pitched hurt last year, high K potential).

      Overall philosophy I follow, if you bought in on a guy like Taijuan during a draft, give it a month or so before reacting. You bought in for a reason, and one start shouldn’t change that (well, unless you’re sitting on a bunch of shares of Matt Strahm, like me, and are just banging your head on the wall wondering what happened).

      I’d probably drop Nova in this spot. I don’t think his K potential is nearly as high, may have a few more QS with his control and efficiency, but Walker better upside.

  5. Ralph Lifshitz

    Ralph Lifshitz says:
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    One of the top posts on the site this year. Bravo! Seriously this is great.

    It’s really funny but depending upon who you read it’s described as a cutter or a slider. There seems to be some that call it a cutter, others a slider. Even better, some give it the old fence sit with the cutter/slider. Eno Sarris talked about it back in February, and actually predicted he’d become the ace we’ve been waiting on. After watching the start against the Jays, and then taking a look at your great dive into some of the data, I’m buying. Too bad I own him almost no where!

    Unrelated note: How are you feeling about your TDG99 team? I need some callups to Moncada and Bradley Zimmer, and a return to health from Dahl, and I’ll be in good shape. You drafted Jesus Aguilar late no?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @Ralph Lifshitz:
      Hey Ralph, really appreciate the praise. I’m loving Bundy, very lucky to have snagged him the Razz writer’s league and two others. Working on a trade for him in a CBS league too. Wish I was more salient of this upside during March, but hey, live and learn.

      Funny you mention that too, I actually always thought the action on the pitch was a slider from watching that start, so I just assumed it was that (BrooksBaseball agreed), but I was reading through a Fangraph’s piece this morning and the individual who wrote it (don’t remember who unfortunately) called it a cutter and I panicked thinking I was wrong hahaha

      Sarris is really good at calling these guys, he’s always been a big Eickhoff fan and that’s a guy I wish I had more shares of already and we’re only one week in. Sarris has also been edging to stick with Cotton too, which I’ve done in moderation cause of that change and what seemed to be a bit of relative bad luck at home.

      I think of the 5 teams I really am focused on this season, only 1 is off to a good start, the others are reeling honestly. Diaz blown save lost me 2 H2H matchups, Malamoney beat me in CBS perts pts league cause of Syndergaard last night, my NL only team is WEAK. But if I take one of my NFBCs, I won’t complain haha

      I looked at TDG99 as an investment, so I’m expecting to come in the bottom three this year and next, but I have investments in Guerrero, Senzel, Glasnow, Lopez that I hope all pay off.

      I feel like I may be a contender for a ‘Tank for Otani’ model this year too hahahaha too early to overreact though!

      Aguilar was a nice pick, I always liked him when he was with CLE, solid power, moderate K rate, always seem to find a job.

      Sorry for the book here haha How’s your start to the season been?

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        If Ralph asks you to wear a Benintendi jersey and to call him “Susan,” be careful!

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @Grey:
          HA!

        • Ralph Lifshitz

          Ralph Lifshitz says:
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          @Grey: Grey, are you sharing our private chats again? I thought all requests were on the table after that whole dress like Giancarlo thing.

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            HAHA

      • Lance

        Lance says:
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        @Lance:
        On the Moncada, Zimmer, Dahl combo…. man… That’s going to produce returns much quicker than my investments – love it

      • Ralph Lifshitz

        Ralph Lifshitz says:
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        @Lance: No worries I love book responses. On the whole cutter/slider thing I don’t think it matters, it’s just interesting. Brooks calls all of Gsellman’s cutters sliders too. Truthfully, depending how sharp they are it’s tough to tell.

        Eno is excellent with his pitching takes. Love when he really nerds out on a pitcher. As much as I hate it in fantasy, pitching is fascinating. There’s nothing I love nerding out on more than, what’s a guy throwing, when’s he throwing it, and to who. It’s like a puzzle and some guys just unlock it.

        This is embarrassing but I have 24 teams this year lol. So far so good, I had four competitive dynasty teams have awful weeks. So I’m trying to resist the itchy trigger on those. My RCLs are fine, it’s so early in roto I’m not worried as long as my core stays healthy. I lost on Diaz in a couple of head to heads too, nothing worse than a Sunday blowup to swing ratios. I lost in my points head to head as well, Tanaka killed me in that one, and my opponent’s Springer, Belt, Sano, and Archer combo was too much.

        In TDG I tried to just draft players I like. Early that was really the goal, just draft guys I won’t hate in a year or two. I debated taking Donaldson over Turner, and regretted it throughout the month and a half of the draft. At the end of the day at 13 or 14 (can’t remember the exact pick) it made sense. Even as someone who hyped Turner a lot last year, the price seemed too high, even in a 5 year league like that. I went far more pitching heavy than I usually do, and all starters at that. My reasoning was two fold; first, if it’s weekly lock I want guys I can trust week in and week out throughout the year, and secondly, starters typically maintain success for longer, and are given a longer leash to workout of funks. I also figured there would be plenty of RP later in the draft, and there were. My favorite part was bagging up some underrated prospects later on after everyone grabbed some of the bigger names. I have a lot of solid close to the majors high floor guys, with a few far off high upside types (Florial, Matias, and Luzardo). I backfilled in the middle rounds with some vets more or less as placeholders. One guy that killed me was Ketel Marte not making the big league club. I have Dixon Machado in my MI spot until Moncada is up lol.

        • Lance

          Lance says:
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          @Ralph Lifshitz:
          Bundy cutter – 100% agree, it’s really just something unnecessary to nitpick.

          Eno – YES man, I agree with you entirely. The pitching pod that him am Sporer did preseason was probably one of my favorite episodes of any pod I’ve listened to in a while. I love that Eno talks to a lot of the guys too, I could nerd out about pitching all day. That and Josh Donaldson talking about hitting (if you’ve ever seen any of those videos).

          24!!!! hahaha that’s unreal, I have 10, and I’ve already narrowed it to 5 that I’m 100% in on, the others thankfully are weekly lock so I can just throw in FAAB bids and set lineups.

          Turner man, I had him on my busts, I just couldn’t do it. I understood the upside, but the thing I always go back to is the fact owners were paying for a ceiling that I feel a lot of the projections, in consensus, didn’t really see happening. It’s a bit of confirmation bias now after the minor injury and slow start, and it’s not like I hate him, but I look at it like Correa last year – I’m just completely fine with opting for another asset in that range, and did exactly that (don’t know I’m talking as if I still have drafts going on hahahaha).

          You sound like you had a much better strategy than me going into it as well. I connected with Eric Roseberry to get in and then was literally drafting 24 hours later. I don’t have much dynasty experience to start, but do follow prospects close, so I was researching as the draft as I was going. I don’t recommend doing that, as I’m sure you know.

          Dixon at your MI is toughhhh too man, but Moncada will be up early June, smoked a ball today, so I think you should only be feeling the pain of that for a little bit. The high floor prospects are the way to go too, which is conveniently, something I started to realize after the draft. If we did this over, I feel like I would have drafted very differently.

          I paid up for Tyler Glasnow, and after that start today, jeeze, rethinking my whole life. Love that kid so much, but is such a feel pitcher it’s unbelieveable to me. I love Huntington’s faith in giving his more and more shots to start too, he’s got the talent and stuff, just needs to refine.

  6. 740 says:
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    hey, thanks for the read.

    drop Kennedy for Bundy in 10team h2h cats?

    thanks again

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @740:
      Ian Kennedy?

      O hell yes haha

  7. thorbs says:
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    Cold-blooded, man….I took Richards 2 picks before Bundy went in my dynasty league and regretted it instantly (thought not as much as the joker that took Samardzjia)

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @thorbs:
      Ahh dam man!

      But as I mention in the piece, it was really hard to go Bundy with any confidence. We just had very slim evidence that his slider would be this good outside of scouting reports. And those are often so subjective that it’s tough to find a consensus you can actually believe in. Eno Sarris (as I mention above with Ralph), had his eyes on him, but I’m not sure if even Eno thought the ceiling could be this high (somebody fact check me on that haha).

      Hopefully Richards gives you some value back.

  8. kingforaday151 says:
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    Best GIF ever…

    • Lance

      Lance says:
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      @kingforaday151:
      Shout out to Jay for finding that and making all my titles better than what I come up with haha

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