Former Boston Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard currently pitches for Single-A Hickory in the Texas Rangers organization, where he’s been working to regain his confidence after struggling the past couple years. Things aren’t too well, however, as the 28-year-old has already allowed 13 runs over 0.2 innings of work with the team.
Again, let’s repeat that: Bard has made four appearances, allowed 13 runs and recorded just two outs. As Hardball Talk notes, that might not even be the most impressive aspect of his performance. Despite all those guys crossing home plate, Bard hasn’t given up a single hit yet during his stint in Hickory.
This is a guy with historic command problems, and he’s taken them to an entirely new level. While folks have long been familiar with Bard’s wild nature, it’s hard to imagine a pitcher getting repeated opportunities while struggling this badly. Over his four appearances, Bard has walked nine batters, hit seven batters and recorded just one strikeout.
At 29-years-old, Bard’s career may not be done, but after what’s happened in Hickory, teams probably won’t be lining up to put him on the mound. A struggling young prospect is one thing, but Bard has been playing professionally for roughly eight years. Considering the stark regression he’s shown since starring for Boston in 2010 and 2011, it’s hard not to be skeptical.
It’s also difficult to imagine that Bard was actually one of the top relievers in the American League not too long ago.
In 2010, Bard emerged as one of the league’s top set-up men with a 1.93 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 30 walks allowed over 74.2 innings, and while his ERA rose to 3.33 the next year, he continued to post strong underlying numbers across the board.
Bard was always teetering on the edge with commanding his high-velocity arsenal, though, and when things have fallen apart, it’s often gotten ugly. Since an attempted conversion to the starting rotation in 2012 failed, Bard has basically been unable to regain the command that made him effective coming out of the bullpen.
If this is the last we hear from Bard, it would most certainly be disappointing, but at the same time, oddly fitting. He was always a tantalizing prospect because of the power, but the command issues had him consistently walking a fine line. Now seemingly on the way out, it’s not surprising they brought about his demise.