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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 19, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4135651)
More stuff, random addenda to an already scattershot post:

I can't find any patterns in Bard's pitch usage that fit with the problems. He threw a lot more sliders in his first two starts, but he was effective against the White Sox with reduced reliance on his slider. It's possible that he was just kind of lucky in his Chicago start, and he will need to rely very heavily on the slider to be consistently effective - which would suggest he probably should be sent back to the pen.

I have trouble believing his fastball is all that different, since he's maintained a very good HR/Con rate on both sides of line. Though that could perhaps be luck, too.

It's possible that the issue may just be command and control. The Pitch/fx numbers show only a small difference in pitches in the zone (50% and 53%), but the BIS numbers may show a somewhat larger divergence. Fangraphs doesn't have BIS numbers up for Bard's start last night, but it already had his Zone% dropping from 46% to 43% without the five-BB Philadelphia data added in. It's still not a lot, nothing on the order of the drop in SwStr%, but it could be something.

If Bard's problem is missed location, it could be showing up in both hitters making contact and in his percentage of pitches thrown in the zone. And if the problem is missed location, then either injury or fatigue seems like the best bet.
   2. booond Posted: May 19, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4135742)
Most bothersome is that the offenses he's pitched against in May are not frightening - Philly/Cle are league average and the other two well below.

It does seem too early for real conclusions, outside of injury. His GB/FB numbers in May start-to-start look like two different pitchers, as if he's searching for a way out.
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 19, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4135753)
EDIT: wrong thread
   4. Ray (CTL) Posted: May 19, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4135781)
Normally I would say "small sample size, blah blah," but it's my impression simply from scanning boxscores -- which I do just about every day during the season -- that good pitchers, even in a bad start, rarely walk more than they strike out. Bard has now done this four times in a row.

Again, I've not seen a systematic study of this, but from my read of boxscores, when good pitchers have bad outings -- even disaster ones -- it's typically because they get beaten to death with hits on balls in play, or with home runs with MOB. (Or hits with RISP.) Walk and K rates stabilize very quickly, so if a pitcher is having a stretch of games where he's walking more than he's striking out, there is something very wrong.

My guess is Bard is either injured or not suited for starting right now.
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: May 19, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4135782)
In comment #2, the word used is "searching", and I think that's probably right. It is easy to forget that, as the Red Sox are dealing with injuries to Crawford, Ellsbury, and Youkilis, and slow starts by Gonzalez and some of the starting pitchers, that they are also trying to incorporate two young starting pitchers in their first seasons as big-league starters - Bard and Doubront. I've actually been very happy with how both pitchers have performed, on balance, but with young starters, you have to take some ups and downs to get to where you hope to go. I suspect Bard is learning a lot on the job this year, as is Doubront - like, how do you get through six effective innings when you don't have control of your pitches on a given day? How do you find a way to get through six or seven innings when you throw a ton of pitches early in the game, and need to be economical in the middle innings? How do you deal with good hitters seeing you for the third time that day? If you looks at Doubront, you see a guy (in my opinion) who has a number of games with a lot of walks, but you hear people say that he seems to have a good idea of how to pitch in situations for a young guy, and I agree. He is able to get around the control problems pretty well for a new guy. I think Bard is going through "teachable" moments, and by the beginning of 2013, we'll be very happy with where both Doubront and Bard are...
   6. Mattbert Posted: May 20, 2012 at 09:00 PM (#4136543)
Doubront looks like he has more of a plan out there, but he doesn't always have the command to execute it on a given day.

Bard looks like he's pitching scared and/or hurt. That start against Philly was tough to watch. He was throwing way, way, way too much offspeed stuff for a guy with a fastball as good as his.
   7. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: May 21, 2012 at 07:41 AM (#4136657)
I'd just like to say I hated the conversion
   8. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 21, 2012 at 08:34 AM (#4136665)
Part of the issue for the Sox at the moment is that they aren't exactly loaded with options if they decide to unring the bell. Matsuzaka suffered a setback and doesn't look close, Cook is on the DL, Ohlendorf isn't exactly lighting 'em up at Pawtucket. Right now unless the Sox want to do a straight Bard for Aceves swap or call up a pitcher likely to be appreciably worse than even this version of Bard they are kind of stuck with this for now. Signing Oswalt changes things of course.

The other issue is how quickly the Sox want to pull the plug. I never cared for the move but I think there has been enough "good" in terms of development that I would be content to see the Sox ride it out. If he's going to succeed as a starter he is going to need to get past these types of stretches. I would think you go into a move like this with an expectation of this sort of hiccup. While I won't be shocked if he's closing for the 2013 Red Sox I also won't be shocked if we don't look back at May, 2012 for Daniel Bard like we do at April, 2007 for Dustin Pedroia.

tl;dr - I agree with #5.
   9. Dan Posted: May 23, 2012 at 08:24 PM (#4139019)
Bard still looks like he's pitching hurt to me.
   10. Dan Posted: May 23, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4139020)
His fastball is down to 89-94 MPH, averaging around 91.5 if you fix the misclassified pitches in pitch F/X.
   11. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 24, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4139161)
What jumps at me more than the average velocity is the inability/unwillingness to cut loose. I'd feel better if he was averaging 91.5 but occasionally whipping in a 96 MPH heater when the situation called for it. He either can't or won't do that. Whether that is injury or some sort of mental thing with being a starter I don't have any clue.
   12. villageidiom Posted: May 24, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4139332)
I'd feel better if he was averaging 91.5 but occasionally whipping in a 96 MPH heater when the situation called for it. He either can't or won't do that.
I thought I saw the other day that Bard said "can't" regarding that. He's been surprised that he can't just dial it up when needed.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 25, 2012 at 08:50 AM (#4139873)
Rob Bradford piece on Daniel Bard from yesterday;

Go back to Bard’s first start of the season, on April 10 in Toronto, and you’ll find 11 pitches which he threw 96 mph or better...
In the seven subsequent starts, Bard has hit 96 mph a total of 11 times.

When looking for the answer to this drop-off, the first thing that should be explored is the pitcher’s health. That, Bard said, is not a problem.

When Bard’s arm drops down, that’s when some of the wildness has made an appearance, with the pitches often times finding themselves sailing to the top of the strike zone. Of the 146 pitches he has thrown 94 mph or better this season, 53 percent have found the zone.

On Bard’s 131 pitches between 90-92 mph, hitters are totaling a .250 batting average. Conversely, from 93 mph and up the average escalates to .276. Not a huge difference, but proof that he can get hitters out with good command and movement.

There's a lot more in there, it's well worth it.

Also, a good piece from Speier on Beckett's evolution as a pitcher;

   14. Darren Posted: May 25, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4139891)
You know who Bard reminds me of? Dan Bard from 2007--before they converted him to relief.
   15. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: May 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4140034)
There's a lot more in there, it's well worth it.

Yeah, that's a nice little piece. Against all expectations, the weei website actually has some really good content. I think it's become one of the best Red Sox media sites around.
   16. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: May 25, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4140177)
Yeah, that's a nice little piece. Against all expectations, the weei website actually has some really good content. I think it's become one of the best Red Sox media sites around.

It's stunning. The station itself is unlistenable but between Speier and Bradford they do a great job on the Sox. If they could punt Minihane to the curb that would be for the best but I can't complain too much.

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