Angels lean on Bundy to bolster rotation against Giants

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Dylan Bundy will start on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday afternoon with expectations on the rise.

The Angels traded four minor-leaguers to the Baltimore Orioles for Bundy during the offseason, hoping at the least he would be an innings-eater, someone who could be counted on to take the ball every fifth day.

Bundy has averaged 30 starts per season over the past three years. Last season, Andrew Heaney led the Angels’ staff with just 18 starts.

While Bundy won’t make 30 starts in this shortened season, he has been more than dependable, pitching as well as almost anyone in the majors. He is 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA in four starts, including a complete game, and he leads the majors with a 0.628 WHIP. He has 35 strikeouts and just three walks in 28 2/3 innings.

“It’s getting to the point now where it’s the expectation, he’s just been pitching that well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s the real deal. I mean, the pitches are that sharp, the swings are not good and the takes are bad.”

Bundy has been leaning heavily on his slider, and he has displayed good command with all his pitches, allowing him to get ahead in counts.

“I’m feeling pretty good, good as I can right now,” Bundy said. “The slider is a go-to always. I’m trying to make the other off-speed pitches just as good. So, we’re learning and trying to get better every day.”

Bundy has faced the Giants just once in his career, getting a victory on Aug. 12, 2016, when he allowed one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Trevor Cahill, who will start for the Giants, is someone the Angels know all too well. Cahill pitched for the Angels last season after signing a one-year, $9 million deal. But he was a bust, going 4-9 with a 5.98 ERA in 37 games (11 starts).

He missed the first three weeks of this season with a fingernail issue and made his first start with his new club Wednesday against the Houston Astros. Limited to a strict pitch count, Cahill did not allow any runs or hits, but he walked four in 1 2/3 innings while making 55 pitches.

Even though he didn’t pitch well for the Angels, Cahill has pitched well against them in his career, going 6-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 13 games (11 starts). Cahill has had success against the Angels’ top hitters, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Neither has a hit against Cahill, with an admittedly small sample size (four combined at-bats).

Like the Angels, the Giants are struggling to remain in the playoff picture and can point to their pitching — particularly the bullpen — as the main cause of their problems. The Giants were aware going into the season that their relievers were limited on experience.

San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said, “We knew that the early part of the season was going to be an exploration in learning about our relievers, particularly the ones that haven’t had much, if any, major league experience. We knew that was going to come with some growing pains. That doesn’t take away the sting of not having success early in the season.”

That lack of experience has been evident so far. On Monday, the Angels won 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth over the visiting Giants when Tommy La Stella belted a walk-off two-run homer off closer Trevor Gott.

In the past five games, all Giants losses, San Francisco’s bullpen has amassed an 0-4 record with a whopping 12.19 ERA and has given up 29 runs with nine homers in just 20 1/3 innings. On Friday, the Oakland A’s scored five in the ninth inning against Giants and went on to win 8-7 in 10 innings. The next day, Oakland’s four-run, ninth-inning rally produced a 7-6 victory at San Francisco.

–Field Level Media

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