Daniel Bard was once one of the up-and-coming pitchers in the Red Sox organization. His promise hit fever pitch in
2010, but this season he has disappointed as a starter. Yesterday, Boston sent Bard to Triple-A Pawtucket to work on his mechanics.
In 2010, Bard pitched 74 2/3 innings in relief. He compiled a 1.93 ERA and struck out 76 strikeouts. He followed that performance with 73 innings of relief in 2011. He put up a 3.33 ERA and struck out 74. The two seasons of stellar work from the bullpen led the Red Sox to move Bard to the rotation. However, Bard has struggled as a starter.
In 11 games this season (10 starts), Bard is 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA. He has pitched 55 innings and struck out just 34. It’s common for a reliever to experience and jump in many of his peripheral numbers as he transitions to the rotation, but Bard has handled the transition worse than most.
He’s walked 37 already this year and hit a career high eight batters. The organization hopes the demotion will allow Bard to work on his delivery and focus without the pressure of being on the Major League roster. Bard’s control has been an issue this year, and it was never more evident than in his last start on Sunday. He pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowed just one hit, but he walked six, hit two batters, and gave up six runs.
The Red Sox have not indicated who will replace Bard in the rotation. However, Daisuke Matsuzaka is coming close to returning from a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket. It stands to reason he will replace Bard in the rotation. Whoever replaces Bard will have to step up though. The Red Sox are only three games back, but the way they lose games some times makes it feel as if they are much further behind. Their 28-27 is far from indicative of a team out of the hunt. Yet, they don’t quite feel in the hunt.
Bard’s demotion may be temporary, but it is a change and if anything can be said of this year’s Red Sox club, it’s that change is the only constant.