The Boston Red Sox have decided that they could get the most out of Daniel Bard by moving him to the rotation. They just might be right.
Bard was an excellent setup man to Papelbon the last couple of years. He amassed an ERA 0f 2.88 over that time and struck out almost exactly 1 batter an inning. Although he had an ERA of 3.33 last year, his WHIP was under 1 (0.96). Among starters, only 3 (who pitched a decent amount of innings) had a WHIP under 1, Verlander, Kershaw, and Hamels – nice company. That said, a RP typically has a little better numbers due to the fact they can give everything in an inning or two. Still, 0.96 was better the Craig Kimbrel of the Braves.
Changing your mindset from a reliever to a starter is one of the biggest questions facing Bard. He has good stuff, but can he spread it out over 5+ innings. The answer looks like yes. He has pitched 5 innings so far (2 outings) and has not given up a run. More importantly is his comments after the game. He analyses what he did and why. He notices times when he has a ‘reliever’ mentality and how that affects his pitching. The fact that he is pitching well so far and that he is really breaking down his approach is a good sign.
Although Bard is in the AL East (tough) he has the advantage of being no higher then the 4th starter. So at least he will not be facing other team’s best pitchers. Offensively, Boston is no slouch, with Pedroioa, Elsbury, Ortiz, Crawford, Gonzalez, and Youklis, they can mash with anyone. So really, the only thing to hold Bard back would be himself.
The successful transition of C.J. Wilson is still fresh in everyone’s mind, so maybe I’m too optimistic. That said, I see Bard as a decent mid-rounder for AL leagues and a later rounder in mixed leagues.