Two starts ago, I wrote that Daniel Bard should be given more time--"at least June"--to figure things out as a starter.
Then yesterday happened.
Watching Bard for the last month was painful, but i came with a belief that we'd seen the floor, and that we'd seen some semblance of an impressive ceiling. That May was simply a slump, and that it could only go uphill from there. Yesterday, however, puts things in a new light.
We've seen how difficult it's been for Daniel Bard to hit the strike zone with his fastball. We'd never seen him be that bad. 25 fastballs thrown, all of six for strikes. I give you, from BrooksBaseball.net, Bard's ineptitude in visuals:
Green, green, everywhere! What's worse is that even when Bard found the strike zone he was in dangerous territory, resulting in long fly balls and the one home run.
There's struggling with control, and then there's this. It makes you wonder whether his results in May were really a matter of a slump, or simply where Bard stands as a starter.
Either way, right now Daniel Bard isn't exactly giving the Sox much more than they could hope to get from one of their better Triple-A starters. Even looking at his better games from May, his peripherals suggest he should be surrendering even more than the 5.03 ERA he allowed.
I don't think now is necessarily the time to simply call the experiment. We've been over the upside of Bard as a starter before, and the bullpen is quite full at the moment. Given that Bard now finds himself at 91-93 MPH, however, and with no control, it's clear that something needs to be figured out, and there seems no reason why that should be done up in the majors.
Bard has all three options left, and while Optional Assignment Waivers would have to be employed, the rumored agreement between GMs would likely keep him safe from those. In Triple-A, he would have the ability to pitch with a focus on fixing his problems without having to worry about the game. And while Bard can hardly complain about being sent down as a starter given his results, the Sox can also say that he'll be back up whenever he's fixed--be that as a starter, or a reliever, and it's up to him.
If he opts for the latter, it gives the Sox the time to find a trading partner for the likes of Matt Albers of Franklin Morales. If he opts for the former, all they have to do is promote someone like Justin Germano for a spot start, and then turn to Daisuke or Cook when they're ready.
The Daniel Bard experiment doesn't need to come to an end right now. The Sox are in a position where they can afford to pay the opportunity cost of giving him time to work things out down below. But it can't continue in the majors at this pace. It's not good for the Sox as a team, and probably not good for Bard's development either.