Bard's fastball was off the mark

April, 16, 2012
The obvious concern with Daniel Bard’s transition from setup man to starter was maintaining his velocity late in games.

Bard Heatmap
ESPN.comDaniel Bard's fastball was consistently up.
As expected, Bard’s been taking something off the fastball. Last season it averaged, 97.2 m.p.h. This year, that’s down to 93.8 m.p.h.

But velocity wasn’t the issue on Monday. Bard’s fastball stayed at 93 m.p.h. in the seventh, the same place it was in the second inning.

The problem was locating it.

Of Bard’s final 20 pitches, 14 were balls.

Bard just couldn’t reel in his fastball on Monday. Of the 59 fastballs he threw, 26 were above the strike zone. Batters only chased after eight of those.

In his first start, 75 percent of his fastballs were strikes. That fell to 57 percent on Monday.

In a game that ended with strike-zone controversy, Bard’s woes were unrelated to umpiring. Of his 47 balls, only one was in the strike zone according to Pitch FX data. In fact, 22 of Bard’s pitches were deemed noncompetitive. Six of those were on ball four.

Seven strikeouts, seven walks

Bard became the first American League pitcher with seven strikeouts and seven walks in a game since Jeremy Sowers in 2008. He was the first to do so while picking up a loss since Victor Zambrano in 2004.

Bard was the first Red Sox pitcher with seven strikeouts and seven walks in a game since Tim Wakefield in 1997. He was the first to do it in April since Jerry Stephenson in 1968.

Better luck than last time

While Bard had some bad luck last time out, he was much more fortunate on Monday.

In his first start, opponents had a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .471. On Monday, that fell to .267, below the league average.

While that could be attributed to better pitching, there’s more to it than that. Bard actually gave up more line drives (five) than he did in his first start (three).

Despite those seven walks, Bard only allowed one earned run. Seven strikeouts helped with that, did an 0-for-5 against him with runners in scoring position.

He’s the first Red Sox pitcher to allow seven walks and one earned run or fewer since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008. He’s the first to do so while taking a loss since Roger Clemens in 1996.

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information



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