It was the Revenge of the Nerds.
After three seasons of pitching out of the bullpen and striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings, Daniel Bard was going to become a starting pitcher. Just like he was in college. Just like he was in the minor leagues, in the first season after the Red Sox made him a first-round draft pick.
Sure, his ERA as a minor-league starter was (gulp) 7.08, which was why the Red Sox made him a relief pitcher. But it's a given, among a certain smart set: If a guy's got great stuff, make him prove he can't start. Especially if he wants to start. And Daniel Bard wanted to start.
So this season, with Daisuke Matsuzaka out and John Lackey out, the Red Sox made Daniel Bard a starting pitcher again. As you no doubt heard, that didn't go real well. In 10 starts, Bard walked more batters than he struck out. So the Sox sent him back to the minors, just to work on some stuff.
That didn't go real well, either. In his first 10 games after the demotion, Bard walked or plunked 14 batters in 12⅓ innings.
Monday, though, Bard pitched a clean inning.
Tuesday, we saw this headline on ESPNBoston.com:
Bard next pitched Thursday night. Friday, we saw this headline on Hardball Talk:
Thursday night, Bard pitched the opposite of a clean inning. He faced four batters, two of whom got hits and two of whom got hit. There were a couple of wild pitches in there, too. Bard was pulled from the game without recording an out. His ERA with Pawtucket is now 8.78, with 16 walks plus HBP in 13⅓ innings.
One has to wonder whether the year’s struggles are the result of an injury or morphing into Steve Blass Syndrome or something else equally scary.
One does have to wonder. One also has to wonder if converting Bard to a starting pitcher was a terrible idea from the beginning, and if the smart set isn't always as smart as
they we think.