Daniel Bard struggles in first appearance since demotion

7 Comments

Daniel Bard was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket this week after posting a 5.24 ERA, a league-leading eight hit batsmen and a 34/37 K/BB ratio over 55 innings. His first appearance in the minors suggests that a return to the Red Sox is not imminent.

According to Ian Browne of MLB.com, Bard allowed three runs in one inning last night against the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. While he struck out two, he also gave up two hits and hit two batters. He threw 16 out of 25 pitches for strikes and topped out at 96 mph on his fastball.

While Bard started the game, he was only scheduled to pitch one inning and he was more focused on his mechanics than the results.

“The best thing about throwing down here is you can kind of ignore the results and not worry about wins and losses as much,” Bard said. “[I was] trying some tweaks mechanically, and I think it was really good on some pitches — and that’s what I was looking for, to get that feel. I didn’t expect it to be perfect on every pitch. The pitches it felt good on did what they were supposed to and went where they were supposed to [go].”

Bard won’t have to wait long to put last night’s outing behind him. He’s scheduled to make his next appearance Monday, likely throwing two innings. It hasn’t been decided whether he’ll start the game or come out of the bullpen.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.