Can Dylan Bundy Be Orioles X-Factor to Winning the AL East Title?

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Can Dylan Bundy Be Orioles X-Factor to Winning the AL East Title?
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
The Orioles hope that Dylan Bundy can be a significant contributor for them down the stretch this season.

Like every MLB team every season, there are question marks surrounding certain areas on the roster. And with those question marks come many "ifs" and other possibilities that could make or break a team.

And then, sometimes, there's the idea that one player could help push a team to the top with his inclusion on the roster at some time during the marathon of a season.

With the Baltimore Orioles, that player is young right-handed starting pitcher Dylan Bundy.

Like many young pitchers with high upside, Bundy has electric stuff and good poise on the mound. In his time in the minors last year (his first professional season), he dominated wherever he went and even made his major league debut late in the season. His two appearances out of the bullpen added up to 1.2 innings pitched, in which he gave up just one hit and issued only one walk.

The Orioles are fortunate enough this season to have their starting pitching rotation pretty much set in spring training, with only one opening up for grabs. They have a good deal of competent and worthy candidates to fill that final role, so the team certainly is not lacking in depth in that department for the first time in a long time.

Bundy was optioned to Double-A by the team just the other day, so he won't be making the starting rotation on Opening Day, despite giving up just one earned run in eight spring training innings. But the majority of people out there, professional analysts and fans alike, believe that Bundy will be called up to the majors for good at any point between midsummer and September.

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At that time, Bundy will be all but guaranteed a rotation slot as the team looks for him to provide a boost with great, key starts down the stretch.

So the question regarding Bundy's eventual call-up is this: How much of an impact will he make upon his arrival? Will it be equal to what Manny Machado did for the team in early August of last season, or will he not make much of a difference?

The thing with Bundy is that he's a special kind of talent. Scouts drool over his potential, and teams would consider giving up significant amounts of talent just to acquire the talented young man. His ceiling isn't there; his potential is limitless.

Considering all of that, I believe that when Bundy gets his call-up and begins making major league starts, he's going to be a serious game-changer for both the Birds and the AL East.

I do expect him to take his bumps here and there, as pretty much every young player trying to adapt to the major leagues does. But the majority of the time, Bundy will toe the rubber and give the O's a very good start, putting them in position to win most all of the games he starts. What he'll do when he gets called up will be very similar to last year's Chris Tillman.

Because of that, Bundy will propel the team both in morale and on the field, from fighting for the AL East lead to taking it and not giving it up, eventually proving to be the key factor in the O's winning their division.

For the first time since Mike Mussina, the Orioles will have a true ace in their rotation, and that will be a giant boost when they enter the playoffs. Bundy will be a driving force in getting them there and will help the team throughout the gauntlet.

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