Plenty of pitchers go through stretches of struggling to throw strikes, but Daniel Bard’s recent wildness is particularly worrisome because his career was nearly derailed by extreme control problems in the minors.
Bard walked 78 batters in 78 innings as a starter at Single-A in 2007, but moved to the bullpen the next season and has been a dominant reliever ever since.
However, after being unhittable for most of this year Bard has coughed up nine runs in his last three appearances while walking five of 17 batters.
For a guy who came into September with a 2.03 ERA and 63/15 K/BB ratio in 62 innings that’s not what the Red Sox want to see at this point in the season, but Bard told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he’s confident about getting back on track:
The timing with my delivery is just not there. I can feel it on every pitch. Something feels a little bit different. I’ve been through it before. The effects of it are kind of magnified by how big these games are. Sometimes you go out there and your mechanics are kind of off and you get through an inning when they swing at a few pitches out the zone and it gets you back in it. Unfortunately for me, they haven’t been doing that lately. It’s something I’ve fixed before, and I’ll fix it again. I’ll do what it takes the next couple of days to put in the work and find my delivery again.
Hopefully he’s right, although as Bard noted there’s a big difference between fixing mechanical and control problems at Single-A and doing the same in the majors, in September, with every appearance coming in a crucial spot.