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Daniel Bard may have to move back to the bullpen.
Daniel Bard has been dogged all season by talk he should be the team’s closer. Or, at the very least, return to his role as setup man.
The talk is not without merit.
Last season Bard pitched in 70 games, struck out 9.1 hitters per nine innings pitched and had the ability to bridge the gap to Papelbon. He had 34 holds.
Out of the 70 games he pitched last season, 56 came in the eighth inning. He struck out 50 hitters in the eighth and held the opposition to a .205 batting average. The kid can flat out dominate the eighth.
But Valentine and company decided to turn Bard into Boston’s fifth starter.
The experiment has hardly been a disaster but it also hasn’t really worked.
This season Bard is 4-5, with a 4.69 ERA in 48 innings pitched. He only has 28 strikeouts on the season.
Alex Speier recently wrote for weei.com:
"But there is a surprising inability to get strikeouts, a lot of walks and tons of base runners. Among 121 qualifying starters, Bard ranks 112th with a 1.56 WHIP—almost twice the mark of major league leader Justin Verlander, who has a 0.80 WHIP, and a colossal increase from the 0.98 WHIP he had as a reliever in 2010-11."
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Cook will both eventually return to Boston and neither will go to the bullpen. It may be time to put Bard back to where he is the most effective: the eighth inning.
When Bailey does return Boston would have a scary one-two-three punch of Aceves, Bard and Bailey to close out games.