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OC Register: Angels pick Dylan Bundy to make Opening Day start


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TEMPE, Ariz. — Although the decision to have Dylan Bundy start for the Angels on Opening Day could have been as simple as acknowledging that he was the team’s most successful starter last year, Manager Joe Maddon went deeper than that.

In the year-plus that Bundy has pitched for the Angels, Maddon has come to appreciate him as much for what he’s done off the field.

“Dylan is really demonstrating a leadership role among the staff,” Maddon said after making the announcement on Monday morning. “He’s got this quiet, stoic method. He’s not the kind of guy that just pops out there and says things just to talk. When he says something, it’s got pertinence. And I think the players have already figured that out.”

Maddon added that Bundy is the type of pitcher whose teammates “don’t want to let him down. You know he’s so prepped for what he does, so if you’re playing behind him, this is one of those days you really get into it.”

Maddon said he also appreciates the “mental toughness” that Bundy developed while pitching in the American League East, which is full of powerful lineups playing in hitter-friendly ballparks.

Of course, beyond those intangibles is the obvious: Bundy pitched very well last year.

Thanks largely to a new approach in which he relied more heavily on his offspeed pitches, Bundy posted a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts and 65-2/3 innings. He gave up just 51 hits and 17 walks, and he struck out 72.

Bundy, 28, came into last season with a 4.67 ERA with the Orioles. Maddon said he’s confident that Bundy was no small-sample fluke in 2020 because of how consistent he was, and how consistent he’s continued to be into this spring. He hasn’t allowed a run in 6-2/3 innings in two Cactus League games.

The way Bundy pitches also allows him to eat innings, which is an important trait for the pitcher at the top of the rotation.

“Guys that have that kind of weaponry and know what to do with it, who are pitch efficient, they can pitch more deep in the game,” Maddon said.

He added that Bundy being a right-hander makes him a good matchup for the Opening Day opponent, the Chicago White Sox. Maddon said lefty Andrew Heaney will also pitch in the series, but he did not specify the order beyond that. The rest of the Angels’ six-man rotation will include righties Griffin Canning, Alex Cobb and Shohei Ohtani and lefty José Quintana.

“I could just praise him all day,” Maddon said. “There’s a lot of reasons why you like Dylan Bundy as your Opening Day starter.”

This will be the second time Bundy gets an Opening Day assignment, having tossed seven scoreless innings for the Baltimore Orioles in the 2018 opener.

“It’s still a big deal, definitely,” Bundy said. “There are 30 teams and there are 30 Opening Day starters. So it’s definitely an honor and it humbles you. Not many people get that opportunity. You just kind of got to cherish it, and basically go out there and treat it like an everyday start and compete. That’s really all you can do.”

LINEUP SHUFFLE

Maddon continues to experiment with different lineup construction. Although he concedes that spring training does not present the most useful laboratory because pitchers don’t attack hitters strategically the way they would in a regular-season game, he said there is a comfort factor for hitters based on who is hitting around them.

What he’s learned so far is that he likes Dexter Fowler and Jose Iglesias in the No. 8-9 spots to feed into the top of the lineup, which moves the catcher up to the No. 7 spot.

As for the top of the lineup, Maddon has said he wants Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon hitting back-to-back, whether that’s 2-3 or 3-4. He’s tried a couple of lefty hitters – Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh – in between Trout and Rendon. On Monday he put Ohtani in front of Trout-Rendon.

NOTES

Maddon said outfielder Jo Adell was “fine” on Monday, two days after he suffered a knee contusion when he ran into the outfield fence trying to make a catch. …

Mike Mayers turned around his career with a discovery on Instagram. He said it was there that he found a picture of Roy Halladay’s cutter grip, which Mayers adopted to lead to the best season of his career. No similar revelations this year, thanks to a Neflix documentary about the pitfalls of online life. “I watched The Social Dilemma, and I decided to stay off of social media as much as possible,” Mayers said. …

Outfielder Justin Upton was scratched from the lineup because of a non-COVID-related illness, the Angels announced.

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1 hour ago, AngelsWin.com said:

What he’s learned so far is that he likes Dexter Fowler and Jose Iglesias in the No. 8-9 spots to feed into the top of the lineup, which moves the catcher up to the No. 7 spot.

Huh... I guess it sort of makes sense as those two can get on base for the top of lineup, but it also means that the catcher spot would get more PA's over the course of a season. I think I'd rather have the SS or RF spot get more PA's than the C spot.

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1 hour ago, AngelsWin.com said:

He added that Bundy being a right-hander makes him a good matchup for the Opening Day opponent, the Chicago White Sox. Maddon said lefty Andrew Heaney will also pitch in the series, but he did not specify the order beyond that. The rest of the Angels’ six-man rotation will include righties Griffin Canning, Alex Cobb and Shohei Ohtani and lefty José Quintana.

I get why Heaney is gonna pitch in the opening series, but I'm not sure it's a smart idea since the White Sox crush lefties. Additionally, those players in their lineup know they crush lefties and I feel like that gives them a big advantage. With Quintana, you may want to avoid having him start against CWS for that reason, but there's also the revenge game factor with Quintana pitching against his former team.

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59 minutes ago, Trendon said:

Huh... I guess it sort of makes sense as those two can get on base for the top of lineup, but it also means that the catcher spot would get more PA's over the course of a season. I think I'd rather have the SS or RF spot get more PA's than the C spot.

Well, there is the argument that you want the guys that WILL get on base at a higher clip right before the guys who are MORE LIKELY to drive them in.  But I see what you mean, as a Saber head would likely put the hitters from best to worst, obviously regarding on base ability/speed/power.  There is also the argument that the 7 guy has opportunities to drive in the meat of the order, why waste that spot with arguably your worst or least consistent hitter(s).  It kind of depends on the players you have, and I agree with you that we should not 'waste' the 7 slot.  I personally find the 8 slot in the lineup better for your worst hitter and the 9 guy can be a scrappy speedster/obp guy, as a kind of alternative lead-off hitter.

 

The lineup should never be completely static, everything Maddon does should be situational, tailored to the guys that are playing THAT day and who's hot and who's not.  But there is also great value in consistency, it'll be about finding that sweet spot.

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44 minutes ago, Trendon said:

Huh... I guess it sort of makes sense as those two can get on base for the top of lineup, but it also means that the catcher spot would get more PA's over the course of a season. I think I'd rather have the SS or RF spot get more PA's than the C spot.

Stassi/Suzuki have enough offense in them to hit 7th.

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7 hours ago, Trendon said:

I get why Heaney is gonna pitch in the opening series, but I'm not sure it's a smart idea since the White Sox crush lefties. Additionally, those players in their lineup know they crush lefties and I feel like that gives them a big advantage. With Quintana, you may want to avoid having him start against CWS for that reason, but there's also the revenge game factor with Quintana pitching against his former team.

Historically, Heaney pitches well in Chicago and owns the White Sox.

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