The Red Sox pitcher — who is currently pitching for Pawtucket — has reportedly informed the team of his desire to be a reliever again. In order to move forward, Bard reportedly called Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington to divulge the news.
Ultimately, it was a smart move for Bard. Through three seasons in the bullpen prior to 2012, the 26-year-old has shined as one of the top relievers in baseball, posting a 2.87 ERA with 213 strikeouts.
But all the tweaks that came along with the transition to starting eventually shifted Bard outside his comfort zone. After three years throwing exclusively from the stretch, he attempted to incorporate a wind-up.
Along with those changes came consequences. Bard started to struggle with his command, issuing six walks and plunking two batters in his last start against the Blue Jays on June 3.
Through 10 starts this season, Bard tallied more walks (36) than strikeouts (34). Even in his first start in Pawtucket, he beaned two batters, signaling a new low for the reliever who was slated to become Jonathan Papelbon‘s heir apparent.
All in all, Bard posted a 4-6 record with a 5.30 ERA as a starter. His struggles drew comparisons to Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain, who has seemingly flamed out after the team switched him around from reliever to starter.
The Red Sox’ alternating between Bard’s future roles all season long showed the pitcher could have been headed down Chamberlain’s path. Even if Bard had remained a starter, he still would’ve had a tough time prying a starting spot away from Daisuke Matsuzaka, or potentially Aaron Cook, in Boston.
Now, he could poised to reclaim his role as a set-up man. With Mark Melancon still easing into life in Boston’s bullpen, Bard has an open vacancy awaiting him, especially as Andrew Bailey inches closer to closing.