José Suarez moves into Angels’ starting rotation, replacing Dylan Bundy
After waiting out two rain delays on Wednesday night, the Angels’ 11-8 win over the New York Yankees not ending until almost six hours after first pitch, the two teams made a proactive choice with more bad weather in the forecast Thursday afternoon.
More than 90 minutes before scheduled first pitch, the series finale at Yankee Stadium was postponed and rescheduled for Aug. 16.
The Angels will return home with a 3-3 record on the shortened road trip, their seven-run ninth-inning rally on Wednesday now the final act of a East Coast swing that kept them two games under .500 at 39-41.
“We could have taken another game in Tampa Bay also,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I just like the way we’ve been playing. … For me, it’s not been as dire as maybe people are viewing this. We’re playing again with a lot of guys that are gaining experience and would not play everyday in a different situation. But they’re gaining experience and holding their own. We just have to continue to start pitching better, in general and out of the bullpen.”
To that end, the Angels altered the starting rotation on Thursday, with Maddon announcing that left-hander José Suarez will replace opening day starter Dylan Bundy in the six-man group.
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As a reliever this season, Suarez has a 1.98 ERA in 27 ⅓ innings. He also has a 3-1 record and four times has pitched at least three innings while giving up one or no runs, helping the Angels win each contest.
Bundy, meanwhile, has been unable to replicate his form from a promising 2020 season. After posting a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts in last year’s shortened campaign, the right-hander had a 6.78 ERA in 14 starts this year before pitching two scoreless innings of relief on Wednesday night.
Suarez’s first start of the season is scheduled to come on Monday against the Red Sox. Bundy will move to the bullpen for the time being.
“Looking at the big picture,” Maddon said, “it just seems like the right time to give Suarez the opportunity and seems like the right time to give Dylan a chance to reset.”
Suarez, 23, made 17 starts and 21 appearances overall in his first two MLB seasons in 2019 and 2020, but posted a 7.99 ERA.
After his strong start this year, however, he will get another extended opportunity to stick in the rotation.
“Everybody’s been really impressed,” Maddon said. “He’s a different guy this year. For the first time he’s revealing his personality, beyond his ability to pitch, and it’s really interesting.”
Bundy, meanwhile, was told of the demotion to the bullpen on Wednesday afternoon, then pitched two scoreless innings of relief that night, even after being interrupted at one point by a 42-minute rain delay.
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“Could not have been a better conversation,” Maddon said. “The guy is so highly accountable. Walks out there last night. Starts trying to implement things. And truly there was an uptick in his stuff last night.”
Unlike last season, when Bundy found success after incorporating more offspeed and breaking pitches, those secondary offerings haven’t been as effective for the 28-year-old former first-round draft pick.
Last year, opponents hit just .138 against his slider, .220 against his changeup and went 0 for 12 against his curveball. This year, those numbers have risen to .231 against the slider, .300 against the changeup and .143 against the curveball.
Also, after giving up only five home runs in 2020, Bundy has conceded 15 so far this season.
Still, Maddon left open the possibility of Bundy, who will be a free agent this offseason, rejoining the rotation at some point later this year if he can show improvement as a reliever.
“We’re just looking for him to find a couple things,” Maddon said, adding: “I’ve talked about how much I like this guy. It grew even more last night. … Things like that, they’re endearing to the whole group. This guy is a veteran pitcher, struggling a bit. We have a young pitcher pitching well. He gets it. And he knows that if he works like he will and gets things back together, there’s probably going to be another opportunity.”
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