Is this the year Daniel Bard finally gets his once-promising Major League Baseball career back on track?
Bard was one of baseball’s most dominant relievers from 2009 through August 2011. He reached the height of his powers in 2010, posting a 1.93 ERA with a 1.004 WHIP over 73 appearances with the Boston Red Sox. But everything fell apart in September 2011, as Bard compiled a 10.64 ERA while showing significantly diminished command over his final 11 appearances of the season. The Red Sox tried to make him a starter the next year, and the transition appeared to be working by the end of April. But Bard posted a 5.03 ERA while hitting five batters and walking 21 over six starts in May, and a June start against the Toronto Blue Jays — five earned runs, six walks, two hit batters over 1 2/3 innings — sent his career down path seemingly toward no return.
He appeared in just six games the rest of the season (bad in most of them), pitched just twice in 2013 and hasn’t been in a big league game since. Comeback attempts with Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets all have gone nowhere.
However, Bard — and we say this with the most cautious of optimism — might be on to something in Denver.
Now 35, Bard was having a strong spring training with the Colorado Rockies before the COVID-19 pandemic turned everything upside-down. And, in what only can be viewed as an encouraging sign, the 2006 first-round back apparently has continued that success in summer camp.
Bard’s strong performance continued Monday during a Rockies intrasquad scrimmage. Here’s some analysis from The Athletic’s Nick Groke:
Daniel Bard went three up-down tonight at Coors Field. Murphy easy grounder, Story K, McMahon fly out. Bard looks goood. Rockies are very pleased. Seems to be pitching his way to opening day.
— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) July 14, 2020
And here’s some insight from Cleveland Indians infielder Mike Freeman.
He was 93-96 in our Quarantine ABs. It will only go up in MLB environment. Let me know if you need a scouting report. He’s not just a sinker, slider guy anymore.
— Mike Freeman (@MikeBFree5) July 14, 2020
Again, baseball fans have every reason to believe Bard’s latest comeback attempt will wind up like all the others: flat. Plus, the odds of reviving a career after seven seasons never are in the player’s favor.
Nevertheless, Bard is putting himself in position potentially to be the feel-good story of the 2020 baseball season.