There is no baseball player on the planet who wouldn’t take a strong start to a season. While gaining positive momentum is a wonderful thing, every ballplayer also knows that what appears to be a solid campaign can be soured in an instant by struggling as they cross the finish line.
Just as things can turn on a dime for hitters, the same can be said for pitchers. All of a sudden, opposing hitters aren’t swinging and missing as often and those softly-hit balls become hard-hit liners. Even those bloopers that were getting caught consistently are starting to fall in. It’s confusing and frustrating for any hurler, especially when it feels like the hitter can anticipate whatever is coming.
Unfortunately for the following six pitchers, a solid first half didn’t carry over into the second half. They’re not only headed into the offseason with a sour taste in their mouth, but they are also hoping these struggles don’t follow them into the 2019 season.
Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles
As one of the few Orioles players that will likely stick around with the organization throughout their upcoming rebuild, Dylan Bundy has to pick up lots of pieces from a disappointing year. Although his 4.35 ERA and .331 wOBA against in 103.1 first-half innings doesn’t seem fantastic, it sure does after seeing what he did following the All-Star break (7.11 ERA, .408 wOBA against in 68.1 innings).
Home runs were a huge problem in 2018 for the young right-hander. Not only did he lead the league by allowing 41 dingers, but it nearly matched what he did in each of the last two seasons (44 homers allowed). His 2.15 homers per nine innings was also the worst among qualified starters, with Jakob Junis coming in a distant second with a 1.63 mark.
It’s not like he can blame Camden Yards that much, either — he only allowed three more homers at home than he did on the road despite throwing 21.2 more innings in Baltimore.