Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daniel Bard: Finds Success As A Two-Inning Starter

Two strikeouts, one walk, and no hits in two-innings. I think he did good, and it was a nice start to spring for him, but.... I don't know. I really don't want him in the starting rotation. Historically throughout his career, he has not done well under the pressure of starting. Granted, all of his starts came in the minor leagues, but there was a reason they transformed him into a bullpen pitcher.

In Single A Greenville and A+ Lancaster, Daniel made 22 starts and collected a 3-7 record with an ERA of 7.08 in 75 innings. He was averaging a little more than three innings per game as a starter, and allowed 76 hits and 78 walks in that time period. Yes, I know these were his first games in the pro-baseball system and it's unfair to judge a man now by what he did as a brand new rookie in 2007, but that's what you have to do. The Red Sox looked at those numbers, and they switched him to a reliever. And then his numbers changed...

They moved him to the bullpen where he worked part time as a closer for 2008 between Single A Greenville and AA Portland. Overall, he played in 46 games and finished 17 of them, collecting 7 saves along the way. He pitched 77.2 innings and lowered his ERA to 1.51. Granted, he still allowed 42 hits and 30 walks, but his strikeouts went up from 47 in 2007 to 107 in 2008. In roughly the same amount of innings. Limiting his work and innings per game seemed to make a HUGE difference for him between 2007 and 2008.

By 2009, he was in AAA Pawtucket, and he played 16 innings in 11 games. Eight games finished and six saves resulted in a 1.12 ERA, 6 hits, 5 walks, and 29 strikeouts.

I'm being overly verbose here, but the lesson learned early in his career was that when he was expected to start, he was basically pitching like a  poor-to-mediocre long relief guy. If you're starting and only averaging 3 or 4 innings per game, you're a bullpen guy in disguise. I'm sure Daniel is a very nice guy and the promise of all those big starter dollars is appealing to him, but just based on his track record, I hate this idea. I hate that they're putting him in the rotation when we SO BADLY need him in the pen. Closers make pretty big bucks, too, Daniel. Look at the contract your buddy Papelbon just signed.

That being said, since I really have no other choice, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and not curse the heavens every time he makes a start. I'm supportive of Bard, because I know he's a good pitcher and I want to see him succeed. I just don't think he'll find the success he hopes he will in the rotation. We'll see. We'll all see.

Anyway, spring is about getting the team in shape, not just one pitcher. Aceves (who I've always felt was better suited for a starting role) pitched very well in his two innings. Final score was 5-4 Sox, keeping Valentine's boys undefeated in 2012. First five game win streak since July 5-9 (Actually, that was a 6 game win streak, going July 5-10), and we are only 36 days away from opening day.


Anonymous said...

Interesting comment from former Phil and MLB Network analyst Mitch Williams. He said on local sports talk radio this week he felt that getting Papelbon was not an upgrade from losing Madson. Pointed out that Ryan was just hitting his stride as a closer and, while Jonathan has "been there" he felt Madson could have been resigned and given the Phillies the same performance they'll get from Papelbon this season. If that is the case, that's one heck of a contract we just hung around our neck...which is one of the various reasons why I didn't want "Poupon" as our new closer. Our old one was gonna do just fine. Madson was a starter just like Bard. Sounds like he belongs in the pen and they should not give up on him as a reliever.

Jup said...

I agree with your assessment of Papelbon. I don't think you'll be getting his best years out of him, and the contract is likely to end up being a burden.

On the same note, the only reason the Sox are letting Bard start is because (again) they have no idea what they're doing. Chaos. Pure chaos.