After yesterday’s 1.2 inning, five earned run, six walk, two hit batter atrocity in Toronto, it has become clear that the experiment of moving Bard to the starting rotation is, at the very least, deeply flawed.
Having been at the game in Toronto, I can say with conviction that no matter how awful Bard looked on TV, it was worse in person. His fastball was so bad he stopped throwing it for a while, resorting to off-speed pitches even on the myriad 3-0 counts he found himself in. To make matters worse, this once-dominating fastball never exceeded 93 MPH on the stadium radar gun.
The angry chorus of boos heaped on Bard after he hit Edwin Encarnacion was actually kind of funny. While the Jays' fans believed Bard had plunked Encarnacion intentionally, had he actually tried to hit him there’s no way he would have been able to execute the pitch.
It has become increasingly evident that the decision to start Bard needs to be revisited. While it’s easy and convenient to just say “they never should have moved him in the first place,” the point is now moot. Hindsight would be a wasteful exercise.
Instead, Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine need to look ahead and figure out what is best for the young pitcher. At 26 years old, Bard has a lot of good years ahead of him.
This poor start should not derail his career.
Instead, it must be used as the flashpoint in bringing Bard into the next phase of his journey. It is the responsibility of his GM and manager to make that happen.
Cherington and Valentine have shown excellent judgment so far this season in terms of what roles players should be filling, so fans should trust them in this situation as well. Here are five possible outcomes they should be considering: