The Daniel Bard experiment has provided mixed results thus far for the Red Sox

Daniel Bard wanted to either close or start for the Red Sox this season after 3 seasons at the Red Sox’ primary set-up man for former closer Jonathan Papelbon.  When Bard had a horrendous September last season the front office shied away from simply handing him the closers job and went out and acquired proven closer Andrew Bailey from the Athletics.  That left the starters role for Bard.  The Red Sox had a need for a starter in the back of the rotation so it was a fit.  Bard would have to win the job in spring training however.  After a rocky start to the spring Bard settled down and was named to the 5th starter’s role just before the beginning of the season.  Results thus far have been mixed.

Bard’s starting career has been solid if inconsistent thus far

Bard has made 6 appearances, 5 starts and the one appearance out of the bullpen.  Interestingly enough he’s gotten a decision in all 6 appearances he has made, sporting a 2-4 record.  1 of the 2 wins came in his relief appearance so he is 1-4 as a starter.  The record might not necessarily reflect how well Bard has pitched.  Bard has a 4.83 ERA which is not horrible for a starter.  Bard has a average run support per game of 5.40 which isn’t too bad either but he did have a 1-0 loss to the Rays on Marathon Monday.  He’s been inconsistent with strikeouts.  His K/9 rate is an even 6 but he has only had 1 strikeout in each of his last 2 starts.  In his first 3 starts he had 6, 7, and 6 strikeouts respectively.  On Tuesday he tied his innings high for the year by going 7 full innings but he disappointingly couldn’t record an out in the 8th despite only throwing 86 pitches going to the inning.  Durability is still an issue and it probably will be all season long.  It’s not just pitch count durability but innings related too ie. he could have 70 pitches going into the 8th inning but he still may tire because his body is just not used to sitting down and getting back up 8 or 9 times a night yet.

Bard is still trying to figure it all out

One thing that Bard has done far better than ANYONE on the staff is limit the long ball.  He has only given up 1 home run all year, a bomb by White Sox slugger Paul Konerko on a 3-0 pitch.  All of the other Red Sox starters have at least 3 home runs given up and the bullpen has given up a whooping 15 home runs combined.  The home run has killed the Sox staff this year because there haven’t been that many solo shots given up by them.  Bard has also improved on his control.  Since his 7 walk performance against the Rays on Marathon Monday Bard has only walked 8 guys in 4 appearances since, half of which came Tuesday night in Kansas City.  Bard seems to get lost for an inning which is what happened for pretty much all of September but then he was only pitching 1 inning so I guess it’s better off this way.

Of course many people are still clamoring for Bard to return to the bullpen.  I wrote about that myself just a few weeks ago here.  A lot of things have changed since then however.  Firstly the longer they hold off the less sense it makes as the longer we go the closer Andrew Bailey is to returning.  Secondly we need Bard in the rotation still because our alternative options are dwindling.  Aaron Cook got the call-up and promptly got spiked in his 2nd inning of work, sending him to the D.L.  Now Daisuke Matsuzaka, coming off of Tommy John surgery, is the last hope and that’s not even mentioning the 500 lb. gorilla in the room known as Clay Buchholz’ season thus far.  Bard will eventually end up in the bullpen this season, his innings limit will guarantee that.  The fact of the matter is that they need him to start right now and then just hope that Buchholz has come around and Dice-K and Cook are healthy when that time comes.

Bard’s problem has been the 1 inning.  That’s not so bad when you consider that he hasn’t started since low A ball.  Bard is still learning to be a starting pitcher in this league and he’s doing it in the most stacked division in baseball.  This year will provide good experience for the future no matter how the season turns out for Bard and the Red Sox.  It looks like they will stay the course with Bard, which is the best bet at this point.  The bullpen has settled down a bit and the key arms should be recovered from the debacle in Baltimore over the weekend.  Bard’s place for now is the rotation.  Will he ever turn into the top of the rotation guy that he’s got the potential to be?  Maybe, maybe not but at least he’ll be able to say that he got his chance.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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