Monday, September 2, 2013

The numbers behind the ridiculous free fall of Daniel Bard

From 2009-2011 Daniel Bard was one of, if not the most dominant 8th inning pitcher in baseball.  He registered 79 holds in his first 192 big league appearances, the most ever by a player that early in his career.  But in late 2011 he somehow forgot how to throw strikes.  When the Red Sox suffered their epic September collapse, Bard was one of the leading culprits.  For the month he went 0-4 while yielding 14 runs in 11 innings (as well as 11 hits and 9 walks).  His ERA skyrocketed from 2.03 to 3.33.

The following offseason Boston decided to convert Bard into a starter.  I was actually in favor of this move, but the Sox yanked him from the rotation after a 4-6 record with a 5.24 ERA through 10 starts (with 37 walks in 55 innings).  Despite being nowhere close to his old self, he wasn't terrible; until he got demoted to AAA.  In 2012 with Pawtucket Bard walked 29 batters (and hit 10 more) in 32 innings, while posting a 7.03 ERA.  Boston gave him another chance this past April, but in his second appearance he walked the only two hitters he faced, throwing just 1 strike in 9 pitches.  He was sent down to the minors again, and then things got really really bad.

With AA Portland this year Bard gave up 17 walks, 13 hits, and 11 runs in just 12.2 innings.  Last week he took the mound in the season finale for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox (rookie level, below single A), and walked 5 batters in two-thirds of an inning while allowing two runs to score on wild pitches.  Boston decided to give him one last opportunity in Lowell (A) on Saturday night, and this time he walked 4 in one inning.  Sunday he was cut from the Red Sox roster.

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