Daniel Bard, who was enjoying a seamless transition from reliever to starter, was ROCKED today by the St. Louis Cardinals. Bard was tagged for 7 runs in 2.2 innings. Bard gave up 6 hits, 4 walks, and only struck out 1. Even more disconcerting was the fact that Bard entered the game in the 6th inning and was facing primarily AA and AAA hitters.
I’m not going to lie, Daniel Bard’s diabolical outing made my day. Since day one I’ve been a staunch opponent of Bard joining the rotation. The Red Sox are just to thin in relievers to have their best setup man become a starter. Despite enjoying a great 2011 season with the Astros, Mark Melancon is still a huge question-mark at the back end of the rotation. Melancon was lit up as a reliever in his brief stint in the AL East with the New York Yankees. He was much younger and may have turned into a different pitcher since then but that remains to be seen. Also you have to worry about Andrew Bailey’s health. He has been on the DL each of the last 3 years and there is no reason to think this one is going to be any different. Also, the Sox have too many starting pitchers. Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, and Vicente Padilla are all viable options for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. Also, people are forgetting Daisuke Matsuzaka will be back as early as June, which will add even more depth to the starting rotation.
Below is an awesome blog post written by Hunter Golden from http://baseballnewengland.com/. He talks about all the things I was too lazy to look up.
Why Bard should not start….
- That he lacks a starter’s repertoire– Bard has two outstanding pitches – his fastball and slider. He throws a change up that dives down and away from left handers, but it’s barely a below average pitch and not likely to help him at all as a starting pitcher. You’d have to think that if the Sox were to stretch him out, he’d have to take some oomph off his fastball as well – likely making it less effective – as Bard isn’t known for pinpoint control. So much for those sexy triple-digit heaters.
- He wasn’t a bad starter. He was awful – Check out this recap of Bard the starter in Single-A thanks to Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal: 7.20 ERA with 3 K’s and 5 BB’s in the first inning. A 19.29 ERA with 4 K’s and 11 BB’s in the second inning. That was in Single-A Lancaster. After he was demoted to Greenville, he wasn’t much better. He racked up a 5.29 ERA in the 1st inning, a 7.04 ERA in the second inning and 9.22 ERA in the third. He had a negative strike out to walk ratio. Yes, that’s right. Negative. If results were that bad in the minor leagues, I have a hard time seeing how results would be all that promising at the Major League level.
- His struggles as pitch counts get higher are worse than other relievers of his caliber- This isn’t that much of a worry for Bard as a reliever. He rarely gets to 20 pitches in a given outing. As a starter, becomes a huge red flag. Bard’s numbers fall off a cliff after 25 pitches. Proponents of the ‘start Bard’ crew would argue that it’s because he hasn’t been conditioned to go longer than that and I call BS – he was certainly in starter condition in Single-A. He didn’t perform. Besides, a lack of something is not proof of something else.
- He’s never pitched more than 80 innings in a single season – What’s even more worrisome is that over the past three years, we’ve seen substantial dips in his K/9 and increases in his BB/9 as he creeps closer to 80 innings. That’s not a good sign.
- He’s been a very good high-leverage reliever – He led the league in holds last year and has emerged as one of the most dominating relievers in the Majors. There’s no reason to remove him from that spot and create two potential holes provided he doesn’t pan out as a starter. Bard’s value is in the pen. If Boston were a team in desperate need to pursue dramatic pitching moves because they were out of options – it could be considered, but not on a team that already has three starters and $40 million sitting around to spend on other solutions (or other internal options like Alfredo Aceves).
- Remember the last time the Red Sox tried to convert an elite setup man to a starter’s role? Oh, hi Pap. How’s that lucrative closing contract in Philly treating you?