Bard, a first-round pick in the University of North Carolina draft in 2006, made his reliever debut with the Red Sox in 2009 and has been generally effective over three seasons. The Red Sox tried to move him to a starting role, but around this time Bard almost completely lost his punching ability. After the 2012 season in which he pitched a 6.22 ERA and walked 43 batters in 59 1/3 innings, Bard’s big-league career appeared to be in jeopardy. Other equally disastrous juvenile stints with the Red Sox, Cardinals, Rangers and Mets followed.
Against all odds, Bard, now 35, returned to the top level. In case you thought otherwise, this is not a simple act of novelty. Bard still has a huge fastball, as Rougned Odor from Texas would surely say:
Yes, it’s 99 mph on the gun, and that, suffice it to say, is elite fastball speed. That day, Bard worked 1 1/3 scoring innings on two hits and one strikeout against no walk. Of his 25 shots, 20 were hit. The strike is his first since April 25, 2013. Bard was also credited with the win on Saturday, and it was his first MLB win since May 29, 2012.
Without a doubt, Bard looked like a quality major league reliever on Saturday, but even though his return is short-lived, it’s already a baseball miracle. Given Bard’s obvious will and willpower, he won’t settle for “just” that.