Daniel Bard’s downward spiral reached a new low Thursday, as the Texas Rangers released the 28-year-old pitcher following a dreadful stint with the organization’s Single-A affiliate in Hickory, N.C.
Bard’s downfall is shocking considering how much promise he showed early in his career with the Boston Red Sox. He isn’t the first pitcher to suddenly lose control of his pitches, though, as several others over the years have suffered from what’s commonly referred to as “Steve Blass Disease” or “the yips.”
Bard was considered one of Major League Baseball’s premier setup men after breaking into the majors with the Red Sox in 2009. Many even thought he’d become Boston’s closer once Jonathan Papelbon left town. Bard struggled at the tail end of 2011, though, and the Red Sox’s attempt to turn him back into a starting pitcher in 2012 failed miserably. His career has been a mess ever since.
Bard, who was released by the Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, underwent surgery in January after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. He joined the Rangers organization looking for a fresh start but allowed 13 earned runs over four appearances spanning two-thirds of an inning this season at Single-A. Bard didn’t surrender a single hit with Hickory, yet walked nine batters and hit seven others en route to a 175.50 ERA.
Bard’s sudden inability to throw strikes is extremely mysterious. It also could cost him his career, like the sudden loss of control has done to other pitchers throughout the game’s history.