There seems to be an odd resemblance between the famous classic rock band Aerosmith and newly converted starter Daniel Bard’s 2012 season. The original version of the song “Walk This Way” was a top 100 hit that also helped revitalize the career of Aerosmith in the late 80’s when Run DMC covered the song in 1986. After recording four more walks in yesterdays start, Bard might be trying to help revitalize the career of Aerosmith for a second time as that song could appropriately be played anywhere from 4-7 times on every fifth day that he takes the hill. If the former first round pick by the Red Sox in the 2006 draft continues this horrendous trend of allowing base runners to waltz up the first base line, Bard might be walking his way back out to the bullpen.
Even though Bard ended up recording the win in yesterday’s 6-5 victory over the 1st place Baltimore Orioles, it was neither pretty nor easy. He threw 90 pitches in 5 and 1/3 innings of work allowing 2 ER on 5 hits, 4 BB and only 2 K’s. Bard has now surrendered 29 bases on balls opposed to his 28 strikeouts in only 48 IP. He is on pace to walk 107 batters this year which is something that not even the almighty walks king himself Daisuke Matsuzaka has ever accomplished. Some people may think that since he is the fifth starter in the rotation that dominant numbers are not necessarily expected which might be true. But production like this or lack-there-of I should say, is not going to cut it no matter where he is as a setup man in the bullpen or a fifth starter in Pawtucket for that matter. The Houston, TX native has made it abundantly clear to the upper management that he wants to be a starter going forward and they somewhat agreed that it is something they want to avidly pursue. According to reports, in spring training Sox skipper Bobby Valentine voiced his opinion to General Manager Ben Cherington that he feels Bard would be best suited for a setup role in the bullpen as opposed to starting, but obviously that was a conversation that involved agreeing to disagree. I have to agree with the “inventor of the wrap” on this one for multiple reasons.
Bard has very limited starting experience in his career. He was a very solid starter in college where he played three years for the UNC Tar Heels from 2004-2006. After being drafted 28th overall by the Red Sox in 2006, he was a starter for the Greenville Drive in single A ball. In his 17 starts that season he posted a pedestrian stat line of 3-5 W/L – 6.42 ERA- 61.2 IP – 56 BB- 38 SO. Not very good as you can see. The word on Bard out of college he sported a solid frame, ( 6’4 200 lbs) a very live fastball that could consistently hit 97-99 mph on the radar guns with an above average slider that could buckle the knees of opposing hitters. A circle change, two seam fastball and cutter were also pitches he sported occasionally on his repertoire with his four seamer and Slider being his dominant pitches. His ability to throw those two pitches so dominantly was why they transitioned him into a reliever that could throw flames out of the bullpen which is a staple that does not grow on trees but every MLB manager looks for. The control factor has always been something that has plagued his game. However, his consistent ability to blow people away with a 99 mph fastball has made up for his flaws and allowed him to become a nightmare for opposing teams in late innings. The solution going forward from here seems pretty cut and dry. Bard is a dangerous piece to a bullpen and a mediocre back end of the rotation starter at best. He has for some odd reason held back on dialing up his fastball as a starter rarely reaching anything over 93 mph in any of his starts that I have seen. That right there is a HUGE problem because that is what this kid knows how to do best. His most dominant pitch has been anything but since he was anointed a starting role. His slider is the only thing that is keeping him a float right now but even that pitch is hard for him to locate at times especially when he can’t throw his fastball for strikes early in counts. The bullpen has seen immense improvements since its dreadful beginning to the season but can become even stronger with the addition of Bard and Andrew Bailey once he recovers from a thumb injury. Aaron Cook and Daisuke can get you the same results if not better than your getting from Daniel Bard as a fifth starter right now when they return from injury. When that day comes I think Bard needs to swallow his pride for the time being and realize that becoming a starter is still a possibility in the future, but not something that he is best suited for at this time. It’s evident that his eyes are on the prize seeing how starters can make twice the amount of money yearly that a top end setup man or closer could ever make. If he continues to stay in the starting rotation producing the numbers he has, it could hurt his future stock at becoming that top 3 starter he wants to become. He needs to realize that what he does best is throwing that kerosene into the back of the catcher’s mitt in the 7th and 8th innings not this subpar low 90’s crap in innings 1-6. D- Bard’s days as a starter are hopefully numbered.
About the Author
Written by Jefferson Mills
I am a 22 year old aspiring sports journalist. I graduated from Hofstra University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and was born and raised in Norwood, MA, twenty minutes south of the great city of Boston. Sports consume my life in every which way as I have been an athlete since the age of 8 playing organized football, baseball and basketball throughout high school and have been an avid die-hard Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox and Celtics fan. I Interned for the "Mecca of Sports Radio" WFAN 660 AM while in college and also interned for News 12 Long Island. Working as a member of the hardest working sports department in one of the most talented college radio stations 88.7 FM WRHU is the one thing I am most proud of when it comes to my work in the field. My passion and work ethic define who I am as a writer, person and friend which is why I hope to become successful in the sports Broadcasting spectrum in years to come.