Daniel Bard was the 28th pick in the 2006 MLB draft as a starting pitcher. His North Carolina teammate, fellow starter Andrew Miller, was the sixth pick of the draft that year. Ironically, Miller and Bard both pitched for the Red Sox this year.
Unlike Bard, Miller has never made the successful transition to the majors. For a period, it didn't seem like Bard would, either. It seemed that both of these UNC prospects were destined to flame out.
Bard was an erratic flame-thrower who couldn't find the strike zone. His first year in the minor leagues, where he pitched at two levels as a starter, was a nightmare. The Red Sox shut him down. They started over and turned him into a reliever. And while it may be hard for Red Sox fans to forget Bard's failing this past April and September, it is undoubted that Daniel Bard is one of the best relievers in baseball
But now, is it time for the Red Sox to consider giving Bard a shot as a starter? I think so.
They go into 2012 with only three sure starters: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz. Moreover, given Beckett's injury history and Buchholz's return from injury, calling them "sure" may be a stretch. Daniel Bard would give the Red Sox a starter who they know will be there.
Bard has the potential to develop into a very good starting pitcher if he can develop a consistent third pitch to compliment his slider and electric fastball. At worst, he may serve as a solid option at the back of the rotation.
Additionally, Bard has expressed a desire to start. Bard would view this as an opportunity and a welcomed challenge. He's noted that his problems as a starter in the minors weren't problems with starting—they were problems with pitching.
I'm sure the Red Sox will explore all their options this winter, but if spring training comes around and the starting rotation is looking unsure, it would be wise to give Bard a shot to extend himself.
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