Dylan Bundy might work his way into the Orioles rotation sooner than you think. Before Wednesday's spring training game against the Pirates, manager Buck Showalter suggested to Orioles reporters that if things go smoothly for Bundy, he might get a chance to start some games late in the regular season.
It's all just a hypothetical at this point, something to talk about in spring training because there's nothing else to talk about. Showalter himself seemed to speak both for and against the idea, cryptically hinting, "It's something we could look at. You never know," but also later saying that it probably wouldn't happen.
If it was going to happen, according to Showalter, it would be something that happened after Bundy had hit the 30-40 innings pitched mark as a reliever. Of course, he'd have to get through that time and still be healthy and firing on all cylinders for them to even have to worry about how it, and we unfortunately know with Bundy that good health can never be assumed.
Then, the team would have to go from there to stretching Bundy out as a starter at the big league level, since it's not like they'll have the choice to option him to the minor leagues to get ready to go as a starter.
Is this crazy to even talk about? It might be, given that Bundy has only thrown a combined 63.1 innings over the past two seasons. That limited action was a result of his 2013 Tommy John surgery and last year's peculiar shoulder calcification that kept him out most of the season.
But, we're not talking about having Bundy in the rotation and expecting him to make 30 starts on the season. A good reference point for getting to ~40 innings pitched can be found last year in Tommy Hunter, who had pitched 44.2 innings before the O's traded him minutes before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
One possible scenario is he could then start working longer bullpen outings over the next few weeks and then make, I don't know, five starts to close out the season. That would give him some forward momentum towards making next year's rotation, assuming all goes well, while also keeping him from a year-long starter workload this year when his arm may still be building up strength.
Even if this ends up happening, what would have to happen for the O's to make room in the rotation for Bundy? Whoever the fifth starter is, that person will probably be someone with a minor league option remaining, so it could be as easy as optioning someone to Norfolk.
The Orioles place in the standings and the level of competitiveness of their starting rotation will surely also affect the decision
It's March, so guessing what the O's will do with Bundy in August is a fool's game anyway. Going back to 2012, the Orioles didn't even do in September what they said they'd do in August with Bundy. Strong hints that Bundy wouldn't get any MLB appearances turned into Bundy getting a couple of late-year bullpen outings.
Plans can change and they can also be disguised by equivocation. Like Showalter said, you never know.