With yesterday's Ankiel-like performance in Toronto, questions surrounding Daniel Bard's spot in the Red Sox rotation are spinning faster than Donnie Sadler around the base paths. In fact, according to Rob Bradford at WEEI.com, the Sox are more focused than ever on picking up another starter and sending No. 51 back to the pen.
On one hand, the idea of Bard in the bullpen especially in light of his mediocre (at best) stint in the rotation is as exciting as ever.
In this scenario, if all goes to plan, the Sox will get Andrew Bailey back around the All-Star break and eventually have some combination of him, Bard, Crazy Alfredo and Franklin Morales handling duties in the seventh, eighth and ninth, while Vincente Padilla and Scott Atchinson fill in gaps along the way.
Considering there were times this season when we feared the Sox might have one of the worst bullpens in baseball, I'd say the above arrangement at least on paper is pretty sweet. If Beckett and Lester can stay on point, Buchholz can build off this recent resurgence and Doubront can keep on keeping on, throwing Bard into the bullpen with those other arms could be the piece that takes this pitching staff to another level. Combine that with an offense that's scored the second most runs in baseball and should only get better as the season wears on and . . .
For now, let's get back to Bard and one important question:
At this point, are we even sure that merely moving Bard to the bullpen will solve his pitching woes? That a new role and a quick snap of the fingers will erase all the issues that contributed to literally one of the worst outings in more than 100 years of baseball history?
After all, it's not like Bard was exactly tearing it up in his last stint as a reliever. He was awful in September. He was the worst pitcher on the staff, and that's saying something. That's like being the dumbest guy in a New York Jets fan club.
As a result, despite all the on-paper optimism, I think we're at the point where moving Bard to the pen is as much about getting him out of the rotation as it is bolstering the bullpen. And that any hopes that he'll be a factor down the stretch should be put on hold until he proves otherwise.
And if all else fails, maybe Bobby V. should give Bard a whirl in center field.
It worked for Ankiel.