Bard continues to struggle with command

Bard continues to struggle with command
May 24, 2012, 5:36 am
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Daniel Bard has made nine starts this season, and still, the jury would seem to be out on when it comes to his suitability for the rotation.
On the one hand, Bard hasn't been blown out of any games. He's allowed just three homers, and even Wednesday, the Orioles hit no more than two or three balls hard against him all day.
But there's something about Bard that makes him look miscast. He seems to regularly be losing his release point, resulting in damaging lapses of control. Worse, he sometimes seems incapable of correcting the problem within the same inning, leading to long, drawn out innings that drive up his pitch count and drive manager Bobby Valentine crazy.
On Wednesday, Valentine and pitching coach Bob McClure suggested -- out of desperation more than anything else -- that Bard begin pitching out of the stretch, even with the bases empty. That sort of experimentation, however, is better suited for side sessions, or spring training outing.
Much has been made of Bard's precipitous decline in velocity, but that seems a natural outcome for a pitcher who has graduated from 20 or so pitches an outing to one who often throws more than 90.
More troubling is the command issue, which Bard can't seem to harness. He has now walked more hitters than he's struck out, which seems inconceivable with a pitcher who has the quality stuff that Bard boasts.
Nine starts is a significant enough sample size. As much as the Red Sox wanted this transition to work, perhaps it's time to table it when either Aaron Cook or Daisuke Matsuzaka are healthy enough to rejoin the staff.