Daniel Bard has some doubters about his move to the starting rotation

11 Comments

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.

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

Elsa/Getty Images
1 Comment

World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.