Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Daniel Bard (51) pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
With the Sunday night Red Sox and Yankees game postponed due to rain, scheduled starter Daniel Bard is having his start skipped. That means it will be Jon Lester taking on the Twins Monday night, rather than Bard, who would have been making his third start in the majors.
Bard is scheduled to make his next start, but the Red Sox stated that he could be used out of the bullpen in the interim since he had his start skipped. Normally, this wouldn't mean much, but the Red Sox are currently in last place in the AL East, and assuming the worst is the norm right now. This also means that fantasy owners are licking their chops in the hopes that Bard is, in fact, going back to the bullpen to stay, where he can close and pick up saves for their teams.
You might want to hold off on that, though. The plan with Bard stands, because, as stated, he's still scheduled for that next start. The Red Sox need to watch his workload this year, though, given he was never a full-time starter in the minors, and has only relieved in the majors minus the two starts he's had this year. Skipping a start helps keep his innings down, while throwing an inning in relief before his next scheduled appearance allows him to throw to live batters, rather than going 10 days without pitching in a game.
Maybe it's not the best course of action, but throwing an inning in relief on his throw day isn't going to derail the starting pitching experiment. And let's be honest: the Sox pen could probably use an inning from Bard over the next week, given Mark Melancon is in Triple-A fixing his mechanics, Andrew Bailey is out until likely August, and the rest of the pen is either shutting down the opposition or serving up hits left and right.
If you pick up Bard at this point, do it because he's inducing swings-and-misses on over one-third of his pitches as a starter. Do it because, once the Red Sox actually start to play as they should, he should be able to produce as a starter for you in ways other than just his strikeouts. Yes, there's a possibility he ends up back in the bullpen eventually this season, given that's where the team is struggling and they do have Aaron Cook at Pawtucket. But we're not at the point where that's a given yet -- being available to pitch out of the bullpen before your next start is not the same as being sent back to the pen.