Bard is back! (on the Rockies, not the Red Sox)

Minneapolis Millers

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Spring training 2011, my kid got a ball signed by Francona and Bard. Sheen wore off that one for him quickly, unfortunately.

Nice to see Bard healthy and confident again. Great comeback story. Article doesn’t say why AZ didn’t sign him...
 

drbretto

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Even that gif isn’t complete without the velocity reading...
Didn't catch that. Oops, wrong one again... FixING.

I don't know why this is so hard, lol. It has the speed on the Google images search. Cuts it off in the post.

I give up. It was 99
 
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Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Ah yes, the 99 mph screwball that will never die. It wasn't just the absurd combination of velocity and movement, but the letter-perfect location; it leaves his hand looking like it's heading for the lower outside edge of the plate, where Swisher might have hoped to at least foul it off. By the time it gets there it's so far down and out that even with two strikes Swisher looks like an idiot for swinging at it. The NY Times article on that game quotes Swisher: "It's not supposed to move like that." Indeed not, my lad. But alas for you, it did. So unfair, and so magnificent.
 

The_Powa_of_Seiji_Ozawa

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"We can rebuild him; we have the technology"...duck tape!



I remember when Bard got drafted it seemed like he could be a devestating pitcher if he ever figured out some control. So it was amazing when he had that stretch of dominance but not surprising when he got the yips.

I know the team was keen on converting him back to starting. But wasn't it Bard's idea at first to pursue becoming a starter again in 2011, similar to the idea that Papelbon had toyed with? Back when it was all about maximizing innings out of your best arms, which leads to earning more money as a SP as a opposed to a RP?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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I know the team was keen on converting him back to starting. But wasn't it Bard's idea at first to pursue becoming a starter again in 2011, similar to the idea that Papelbon had toyed with? Back when it was all about maximizing innings out of your best arms, which leads to earning more money as a SP as a opposed to a RP?
Bard, IIRC, was much more amenable to moving to starting than Papelbon ever was. They wanted to move Papelbon to the rotation after he had that shoulder subluxation at the end of 2006, thinking it would be easier to manage on a regular starter's schedule. Papelbon asked to be moved back to the bullpen because he preferred the adrenaline-rush of closing...and they appeared to have six starters that spring anyway (leading to half a season of Julian Tavarez, starting pitcher).

Bard to the rotation was definitely about maximizing the best arms on the roster. His poor September 2011 showing notwithstanding, he seemed to be the heir-apparent for the closer spot with Papelbon leaving as a free agent but still elected to attempt the move to the rotation. The projected 2012 rotation was Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Buchholz and ??? Wakefield had retired, Matsuzaka was coming back from Tommy John, Buchholz was coming back from a stress fracture in his back, Lackey was pitching (poorly) with a shredded elbow. 2010-early 2011 vintage Daniel Bard throwing 6-7 innings every five games would have been a huge addition. Unfortunately, he wasn't healthy and flamed out as a starter.
 

drbretto

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Man, if Bard added a knuckleball to go with the 95+ heater, wow.
I've actually always kinda wondered this. Is there a point of diminishing returns where a speed difference stops being effective? Or is there really just no time to react? Even if you're going from 55 to 95
 

Pitt the Elder

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This is a great developing story: https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/29484218/daniel-bard-makes-rockies-roster-seven-year-absence

I thought he was totally out of baseball. At his best, he was so great for us, and threw some of the nastiest pitchers I've ever seen back when 98 with movement was uncommon
Man, I think we'd all love to see this, especially given the shit show that has been 2020. I know I'm not the only guy that spent years checking out minor league box scores and the former Red Sox thread hoping against hope that he'd make it back. Even if it's only for a 60 game season, it would be great to see him pitch as a viable MLB player.
 

PrometheusWakefield

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I've actually always kinda wondered this. Is there a point of diminishing returns where a speed difference stops being effective? Or is there really just no time to react? Even if you're going from 55 to 95
Yes. Especially since it becomes obvious from the movement of the arm which pitch is coming.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Yes. Especially since it becomes obvious from the movement of the arm which pitch is coming.
Why does the movement of the arm have to change? Knuckleballers for decades have been able to mix in fastballs and curveballs without giving it away with their motion. Maybe he can throw the knuckler 80-85 with the same arm action as his fastball. I mean, since we're fantasizing here, why not?
 

SumnerH

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Shades of Jim Bouton who pitched his last game for the Astros in 1970 and made a return to the majors in 1978 with the Braves.
There are over 40 players who've gone more than a decade between MLB appearances. Only two have gone 20+ years between MLB stints:
  • Paul Schreiber came out of retirement during the depleted WWII days to pitch a couple of games in 1945, after retiring in 1923.
  • Charley O'Leary was called out of retirement at the age of 58 in 1934. He pinch hit, becoming the oldest player to get a hit (a single) and to score a run.
More recently, Cory Aldridge was called up in 2001 for 8 games with the Braves. He wouldn't return to the majors until 2010, a 9+ year gap.

Among many other 7+ year gaps (including old friend Roberto Petagine), Jason Lane played as an outfielder from 2002–2007, fractured his wrist, and returned to the bigs in 2014 as a pitcher. He threw 3⅓ perfect innings in his debut.
 

Monbonthbump

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And while we are on this topic, let us not forget the great Satchel Paige who pitched for the St. Louis Browns in 1953 and returned as sort of a publicity stunt for Charlie Finley's KC A's in 1965 to pitch 3 innings and save a game at age 58 or so. Incidentally, I personally saw him pitch in a semi-pro game against my "town team" which was about 30 miles south of his home in KC in 1960. Needless to say he was not scored on and struck our best hitter out with an "eephus" pitch before leaving the game.
 

sean1562

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Does anyone know why he got offered a spot? His spring training line is terrible, 2.1, 7 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 1 HR.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Does anyone know why he got offered a spot? His spring training line is terrible, 2.1, 7 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 1 HR.
His spring training line was also four months ago. They must have liked what they've seen out of him since. Probably doesn't hurt that rosters are expanded to start the season. A 30-man roster for the first couple weeks gives them room to try some borderline guys out. Though his staying in combination with cutting Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw suggests he might not be so borderline.
 

Pitt the Elder

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Does anyone know why he got offered a spot? His spring training line is terrible, 2.1, 7 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 1 HR.
It's hard to tease out too much from a such a small sample, but here are what his ST outings looked like:

3/4 - 0.1 ip, 4h, 6r, 6er, 0k, 2bb
  • 4 pitch walk
  • Home run
  • Ground out
  • Line drive single
  • Line drive single
  • Ground ball single
  • 5 pitch walk
3.7 - 1ip, 0r, 0er, 0h, 2k, 0bb
  • 3 pitch swinging K
  • 3 pitch called K
  • Ground out
3/10 - 1ip, 1h, 1r, 1er, 1k, 1bb
  • 4 pitch walk
  • Line drive single
  • Force out
  • Caught stealing
  • 3 pitch swinging K, including swing and miss on 85 mph slider and swing and miss on 95mph fb
His first outing looked like the brutal Bard comeback line we are all too familiar with but the other two outings looked much better, with the one on 3/7 looking almost dominant.
 

Over Guapo Grande

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It's hard to tease out too much from a such a small sample, but here are what his ST outings looked like:

3/4 - 0.1 ip, 4h, 6r, 6er, 0k, 2bb
  • 4 pitch walk
  • Home run
  • Ground out
  • Line drive single
  • Line drive single
  • Ground ball single
  • 5 pitch walk
3.7 - 1ip, 0r, 0er, 0h, 2k, 0bb
  • 3 pitch swinging K
  • 3 pitch called K
  • Ground out
3/10 - 1ip, 1h, 1r, 1er, 1k, 1bb
  • 4 pitch walk
  • Line drive single
  • Force out
  • Caught stealing
  • 3 pitch swinging K, including swing and miss on 85 mph slider and swing and miss on 95mph fb
His first outing looked like the brutal Bard comeback line we are all too familiar with but the other two outings looked much better, with the one on 3/7 looking almost dominant.
If was just about to caution/remind you that Gamecast Spring Training lines always have walks as 4 pitches and strikeouts as 3 pitches. Then I picked up that 5 pitch walk.... so maybe it was that off/on.
 

sean1562

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Ah thanks! That does seem to make a lot more sense when you break it out like that. I was reading the recent articles and one had his stat line so I was a little surprised at all the praise. Hope he does well! Will have lots of opportunities with the Rockies considering they are pretty bad.
 

Pitt the Elder

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If was just about to caution/remind you that Gamecast Spring Training lines always have walks as 4 pitches and strikeouts as 3 pitches. Then I picked up that 5 pitch walk.... so maybe it was that off/on.
Yeah, I had the same thought but the gamecast data had pitch location and at least for one game mph but I'm not sure how reliable it is
 

ledsox

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Good for Bard. Was in Anaheim for his debut. He got Napoli swinging that first at bat 11 years ago. Hope I get to see him pitch in San Diego at some point.
 

Pitt the Elder

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I just saw Bard blow Odor away in 3 pitches on a 99mph fastball. 1.1 ip 2h 0r 0er 1k 0 b. 20 strikes out of 25 pitches, 2 swinging strikes. Went to 2 balls on a batter only once.
 

ngruz25

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There are over 40 players who've gone more than a decade between MLB appearances. Only two have gone 20+ years between MLB stints:
  • Paul Schreiber came out of retirement during the depleted WWII days to pitch a couple of games in 1945, after retiring in 1923.
  • Charley O'Leary was called out of retirement at the age of 58 in 1934. He pinch hit, becoming the oldest player to get a hit (a single) and to score a run.
More recently, Cory Aldridge was called up in 2001 for 8 games with the Braves. He wouldn't return to the majors until 2010, a 9+ year gap.

Among many other 7+ year gaps (including old friend Roberto Petagine), Jason Lane played as an outfielder from 2002–2007, fractured his wrist, and returned to the bigs in 2014 as a pitcher. He threw 3⅓ perfect innings in his debut.
This discussion wouldn't be complete without a mention of old friend Steve Ontiveros, who made the All-Star team after a fantastic first half of 1995, turned into a pumpkin in the second half, and then disappeared for five seasons until getting into three games for the Sox in 2000.

His first appearance in five years was... unfortunate (gave up 6 earned and didn't get out of the second inning). The box score is just a total gem of the early-2000 dark days of the Red Sox: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET200009162.shtml

Izzy Alcantara! Morgan Burkhart! Midre Cummings! Bernard Gilkey! Dante Bichette! Paxton Crawford! Sang Hoon Lee!
 

Humphrey

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This discussion wouldn't be complete without a mention of old friend Steve Ontiveros, who made the All-Star team after a fantastic first half of 1995, turned into a pumpkin in the second half, and then disappeared for five seasons until getting into three games for the Sox in 2000.

His first appearance in five years was... unfortunate (gave up 6 earned and didn't get out of the second inning). The box score is just a total gem of the early-2000 dark days of the Red Sox: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET200009162.shtml

Izzy Alcantara! Morgan Burkhart! Midre Cummings! Bernard Gilkey! Dante Bichette! Paxton Crawford! Sang Hoon Lee!
Don't forget Donnie Sadler, .222/.262/.505 for the year. One of the Sox' better decisions giving up on the guy.
 

donutogre

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I just saw Bard blow Odor away in 3 pitches on a 99mph fastball. 1.1 ip 2h 0r 0er 1k 0 b. 20 strikes out of 25 pitches, 2 swinging strikes. Went to 2 balls on a batter only once.
That is absolutely wild. He was so fucking broken for so long. Pretty amazing he somehow figured it out again.

EDIT: and he picked up the win, to boot!
 

mauidano

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This is such a really feel good story. I am emotional thinking about him and his family tonight. Couldn’t happen to a better human.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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His interview postgame is worth watching. You can see how happy he is yet the same perspective that got him back is also keeping him humble.

What a great story. This guy effectively made the big leagues twice when one time is rare enough.
 

Patek's 3 Dingers

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It's amazing and unprecedented for him to be able to comeback. Here's a paragraph from an SB article regarding a start in the GCL in early 2018. The writer believed it was the last time Bard would ever pitch in a game:

"The results, as they so often had been since that last major league appearance in April 2013, were ugly. He faced nine batters but recorded only two outs. In addition to walking four, he hit two batters. The final line: four runs in two-thirds of an inning."
 

Pitt the Elder

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Statcast shows a map of literally every pitch he's thrown, which is pretty cool (https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/daniel-bard-453268?stats=statcast-r-pitching-mlb). Even cooler is that you can click on each dot and see a 3-5 second video of the pitch.

33099

It looks like he's pounding the zone with everything but his changeup, which looks like he's pitching to the edges with. Small sample size and all that, but his zone percentage is 51.2% and his first pitch strike percentage 60.9%, both better than his previous career bests. His swinging strike percentage is 8.2%, not as good as the 10-12% he had at his peak with the Sox. He's definitely catching a lot of the plate with his some of his pitches, so I think he needs to keep missing bats to continue to be effective.