Rob Bradford caught up with Daniel Bard in Fort Meyers yesterday and the subject of the young man’s role came up:
“How do you view yourself, as a reliever or a starter?”
“I see myself as a pitcher,” he responded without hesitation following his Thursday workout at the Red Sox minor-league training facility … Bard, a starter in college and throughout his first professional season, likes the idea of perhaps re-entering the world of a starting rotation somewhere down the line.
“I kind of would like to try it. It’s something I would like to do,” said Bard of starting again. “It would kind of challenge myself. You’ve never proven yourself, but I know I can do the reliever thing for myself, just as a personal challenge, [starting] would be cool.”
Some talent evaluator scouty type like Keith Law or Kevin Goldstein recently said on Twitter that Bard is decidedly not cut out to return to starting. I searched around for the discussion but I couldn’t find it, so I’m not sure what the basis was for the assessment.
My sense, though, is that if there is a team who would give a guy every reasonable opportunity to start before making a him into a reliever, it’s the Red Sox. That they have no problem with his current role and have shown no indication to want to change it suggests to me that, no, Bard doesn’t profile at all well as a starter.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.