Daniel Bard is being stretched out as a starter this spring after spending the past four seasons (including three in the majors) as a reliever. He tossed five scoreless innings over his first two Grapefruit League appearances, but was blasted for seven runs over 2 2/3 innings on Thursday against the Cardinals.
We shouldn’t panic about one bad performance, especially one that was interrupted by a rain delay, but two anonymous scouts told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox are making a mistake by moving him to the rotation.
“Bard should be in the pen,” the A.L. scout said. “He’s a thrower, not a pitcher. And he’s had success in the pen. I’d have made him the closer once (Jonathan) Papelbon left.”
The other scout agreed, but believes that the Red Sox will give Bard half a season in the rotation before reevaluating. The 26-year-old has his fair share of doubters, in part because he had a disastrous 7.08 ERA and 47/78 K/BB ratio (you’re reading that correctly) over 75 innings as a starter during his first pro season in 2007, but it’s hard to put much stock in those numbers since he was 22 years old at the time and was using different mechanics. He has a chance to provide much more value to the Red Sox as a starter as opposed to a reliever, so this is a worthy experiment.
Of course, Bard has walked seven batters over 7 2/3 innings this spring, which is a bit of a concern after his command suddenly eluded him last September.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.