There’s a Bull in the Pen

Sunday was a difficult day for me as a fan. I watched a 1-0 deficit as the offense seemed stagnant. I saw a 4-1 lead slip away after a great effort from Wakefield. I died a little inside as the same bullpen loaded the bases in the 10th inning with nobody out, and then went on to let up singles to the next two batters, allowing all 3 runners to score without recording an out. I was given a ray of hope as the Orioles trotted out their closer for his 3rd straight inning, and the rally materialized only to be stomped on right before it was finished.

In all that, I saw something that makes me truly happy, Daniel Bard. I’ve been a Bard fan for a while, and am certainly happy that he is being trusted with our most important non-closer outs. I’m not quite on the “replace Papelbon with Bard” bandwagon yet, but I can absolutely see how down the road this may be a solution. I mainly say this because in what many view as an “off year” for Papelbon last year, he was 38/41 in save opportunities, only three blown, with a 1.85 ERA. I’ll also note that this is tied for the second lowest ERA of his career, the first being his Rookie season as closer, posting a 0.92 ERA. I’m of the mindset to keep Papelbon until he can no longer do the job, because having BOTH Bard and Papelbon only hurts the other team.

Back to Bard though. In the top of the 9th inning, Bard faced 3 batters, and struck them all out. This is always impressive, especially with the 100 MPH fastball lighting up the radar gun. That isn’t what impressed me on this particular day though. With 1 out, Bard faced Adam Jones. With a 1-1 count, Bard threw back to back nasty curveballs for the strike out. (MLB gameday called them sliders, but they sure looked like curves to me.) I was quite happy with this. Bard can throw heat past anyone, and still has strikeout pitches! This will take him a long way in terms of being unpredictable, as hitters can’t simply go to the plate and assume fastball 90% of the time as it seems they do with Papelbon.

He is another Red Sox farm system product that I expect to be part of this regime for many years to come.  With Papelbon not eligible for free agency until 2011, the back end of the bullpen is sure to be solid for the next two years.

——-

Edit: Bard does it again last night in the first game of the Blue Jays series. He retires all 3 men he faced, allowing one inherited runner to score on a sac fly. I noticed the curve I spoke of did in fact look like much more of a slider. I don’t know if it looked different than the previous game, but the pitch is a slider with some drop to it. If you think about a 12-6 curve, this is a 1:30-7:30 slider. Extra nasty. Papelbon seems to be throwing both the split and slider more as well.

4 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Contracts, Daniel Bard, General Baseball, MLB, Papelbon, Save, Sox, Sports, Uncategorized

4 responses to “There’s a Bull in the Pen

  1. Hi, Nice way to finish on an up-note after such a disappointing performance by the Red Sox. They really seem to miss Ellsbury and Cameron a lot. And, let’s face it, it’s time for the team’s loyalty to Ortiz to come to an end. Otherwise, this season will slip away before it has hardly even begun. Good job, Bill

    • bleedred

      Yes, I agree missing Ellsbury and Cameron is not ideal, however don’t look now, but the Red Sox have won two straight series, and were very close to a sweep yesterday. Ortiz has already started getting limiting playing time, with Lowell appearing in the DH spot from time to time. Ortiz may have gotten an extension on his need to start performing due to the outfield injuries. Now, Ortiz only has to compete for PT with Lowell, since Hermida can play almost every day until these guys come back. No need to panic on Ortiz yet. With the next 6 games against the Jays and Orioles, I expect a few more series wins. The easier competition should help these guys get back on their feet.

  2. HI, Well, I certainly hope you’re right, but losing yesterday to the Orioles, a team with only two wins entering the game, was just a bit too depressing (especially coupled with yet another Rays win.) Still, I think Boston will right the ship and make this a very interesting three team pennant race.

    • bleedred

      Losing to a two win team is never ideal. Its baseball though, and any team can win on any given day. I also think they can right the ship, and I cling to the fact that through 20 games last year, the 103 win Yankees were 10-10. A win tonight would put the sox at 9-11 through the same 20 games. I don’t expect the Sox to win 103, nor am I trying to compare this team to the offensive juggernaut that they were. I simply like to remember that it is still April and there is plenty of time for panic, but doing it now is premature. Lots of baseball to be played.

      Thanks for the comments Bill! I like the discussion.

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