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Daniel Bard (2-9, 3.33 ERA, 73 IP, 74 K, 24 BB)
Another starting pitcher, another question mark. As it had been speculated for months, Bard entered Spring Training preparing to be a starter. Last year’s set-up man was initially groomed as a starter in the minors, but it wasn’t exactly pretty (3-7 with a 7.08 ERA split between Greenville and Lancaster). And that was at Single-A. Can a guy who has never pitched 75 innings in a major league season pitch effectively through a full season?
Moving Bard to the rotation is not something that should be taken lightly. For the past several years, Bard has been one of the best setup-men in the majors. His departure from relief pitching could leave a gaping hole in the Boston bullpen. What happens if Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon don’t pan out? What if Alfredo Aceves is not the swiss army knife he was last year? It seems like a no-win situation for Bard. If he pitches poorly when given a larger sample size, people will complain that he is not being utilized correctly. If he pitches better than that, but the bullpen stinks, there will be cries to move him back. For a baseball team that only has three established (and injury prone starters) the Red Sox have a lot riding on Bard.
It also is unclear whether Bard will start the entire season. If one thing is certain, it’s that the Red Sox don’t want to blow his arm out (at least until he’s an impending free agent). Don’t be surprised if Bard gets shut down before the end of the season or transitioned back to a relief role to finish the year….Assuming that this isn’t a failed experiment that doesn’t go awry after three starts, that is.
2012 Red Sox Starting Rotation Previews:
Josh Beckett | Jon Lester | Clay Buchholz | Daniel Bard | Mystery Pitcher #5