Nobody ever wants to end up like Steve Blass, where all of a sudden, you can’t throw the ball like you used to.
In 2012 there were many whispers that Daniel Bard had morphed into Blass.
This isn’t even the first time in his career that something like this happened to him. In 2008 when he was sent up to AA, I saw him pitch his first game, which was played in New Britain, CT. I called him over as he was warming up, and I said “What happened to you last year, 78 walks in 75 innings?”
He replied, “It was all mechanics, and it is all good now.”
I said “Just throw the ball like you did at NC and do it for one inning. If you just pitch the eighth inning, and you will be in Boston by August.”
That night he came in relief for Portland and struck out the side in the eighth inning. He never made it to Boston that year, even though he never gave up an earned run after July, 17, 2008. That summer he hit 100 on the radar gun in Portland. Just think if he played for Boston that year, the Sox might have beaten Tampa, and played in another World Series.
In 2012 Bard pitched like that wild thing of 2007. Many said it was all in his head. If it is only in your head, then how does your velocity drop more than seven mph?
I am sure Bard has looked at footage of his motion, how could you do something so good at age 23, but by 27 it is all gone?
Is it strictly the speed of his fastball, or where are his pitches crossing the plate?
For a stretch last year, Bard gave up a home run in four games in a row for Boston. He hit 10 batters in 32 innings in AAA with 29 walks. Those are the same numbers he put up his first year in professional baseball. He came back once, and was one of the best eighth inning guys from 2009-2011.
In 2012 Daniel began the year in the Red Sox rotation. On the day when the manager spoke about Youkilis, Patriot’s Day, Bard pitched his best game of the year. It was 0-0 in the seventh, and Bard stayed in the game, walked in a run, and the Sox lost 1-0. From then on it was all downhill for Daniel Bard.
What do you think the odds are that Bard makes it back, and is part of the Red Sox pen in 2013?
A. 90% sure. It was all in his head and things are good now, just watch.
B. 50-50. He will never throw 100mph again.
C. Zero. He is done. From now on it will known as the Blass/Bard disease.