As if none of us saw this coming, SP Daniel Bard of the Boston Red Sox, has been sent down to Pawtucket to try and maybe begin to throw something that lands over the plate. As I like to call him, Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, Bard has been breaking records (not literally) for walking or hitting batters in his past few starts. As one of my friends has said about having Bard on his fantasy team, ” Bard could give up one run but score −13 points because he walks just about every batter he faces.” He wasn’t lying when he said it, Bard, who normally throws up around 95+, has been struggling with velocity and hasn’t seen a strike call since ‘nam.
In his first full season as a starting pitcher for the Red Sox, is 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA. While he has struck out 34 batters in 55 innings pitched, with a mind-blowing 37 walks. I mean 37 walks?! For gosh sake’s I could throw a have less walks then that, mind you I may let up some moon shots, but jeez louise, 37 walks! I know that Bard has been struggling as of late but he has the ability to be a great pitcher. Last season, Bard was spectacular in a setup role for closer Jonathan Papelbon. In 73 innings, Bard finished with a 3.33 ERA and a WHIP of 0.96. He had the ability to shut down batters with his electric stuff. When his fastball and slurve are on point, Bard has the ability to be an absolute stud on the bump. His inconsistency has been his biggest problem though.
Bard’s most recent start, a 1 2/3 inning effort against Toronto Sunday, was what made the decision an easy one. Bard allowed six walks, five earned runs and a home run, along with two hit batsmen, before Bobby V. finally pulled the plug on him.
Unfortunately, baseball is probably one of the most mental games you can play. As Tim Kurkjian says in his book, Is this a great game, or what?, “Dante Bichette was a really good hitter for nearly ten years, but he had told me, ‘Everyday I came to the park wondering if it’s the last day I’ll be able to hit in the big leagues'”. Bard told the Boston Globe after his start against Toronto he may have changed some things that made him successful as he made the transition from the bullpen to the rotation.
“I allowed something to happen when I switched roles,” Bard said. “I think it’s just maybe that we just tried to turn me into a starter rather than just take the same pitcher I was out of the pen and move that guy to the rotation, which is probably what should have been done.”
I also heard Bard say that when he is able to get his arm under the ball in a 3/4-type of release, he can get more velocity on the ball but he has no clue where the ball is going. And when he is throwing more over the top of his shoulder, he loses velocity but has more control. Whatever the issue may be Bard needs to figure it out, for his sake and for the Sox’ sake. The Red Sox, who now have an empty spot in their rotation, might turn to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is nearly done with his rehab after Tommy John surgery on his elbow last season. Matsuzaka has made five starts for Triple-A Pawtucket, and has 18 strikeouts and just three walks in 27 innings.