You’re probably a little surprised by this slide. Before you shoot down to the comment section to tell me I’m an idiot who knows nothing about baseball, hear me out. OK? OK.
It’s true that Bard has already tried starting, unsuccessfully. However, it’s possible that, given the necessary time and coaching, he could carve out a starting role again.
As I have mentioned previously, Bard is not needed in the bullpen this year. So, this situation gives the Red Sox some time and freedom to experiment with the young right-hander.
When Bard was drafted 28th overall in the 2006 draft, Boston’s front office expected him to become a starter. He had a plus fastball right out of college, and his strong, 6’4” frame gave him the durability to work deep into games. Bard also featured a slider and a changeup that both had good potential.
However, command issues forced Bard to the bullpen where he dominated at every level. Eventually dropping his changeup and developing his slider into a plus pitch, Bard enjoyed success in the majors.
Although he’s had a strong career in the bullpen, Bard never reached his full potential as a pitcher. And since the Red Sox don’t need him, they could keep him in the minors to try to reach that potential one last time.
The Double-A level, where Bard currently resides, is the most difficult level for many minor league pitchers. It is commonly known as the point where strong secondary pitches become vital to success.
Bard already has a big league-caliber slider and fastball in his back pocket. His changeup, although not refined, is a decent pitch as well. If he can work with the pitching coaches at Double-A to improve the pitch, as well as his overall command, there’s no reason why he can’t build himself into a strong back-end starter.
Personally, of the three options outlined, I would support this one. Bard has no reason to rush back to the majors, so why not take the time to become the best that he can be? And there’s very little risk involved. If he realizes starting is a pipe dream, he can just go right back to the bullpen, no harm done.
All statistical information obtained from Fangraphs.com