Rockies’ Daniel Bard including one other chapter to outstanding comeback story
SAN DIEGO — Daniel Bard stood at his locker contained in the customer’s clubhouse at Petco Park speaking about pitching. It’s one thing he enjoys.
The Rockies’ nearer turns 37 on June 25 however he’s having his greatest season in additional than a decade and there are even whispers a few journey to subsequent month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Considering every little thing he’s been by means of, it’s outstanding.
Bard’s battle in opposition to the yips and his return to the majors in 2020 after a seven-year absence has been well-chronicled. Last yr, after beginning off sturdy, Bard pitched poorly and misplaced his job as a more in-depth within the second half of the season. He was scored upon 11 occasions in 30 appearances and pitched to a 6.75 ERA after the all-star break as left-handed hitters feasted on him.
Yet right here he’s, pitching with the vigor of a child and the knowledge of a veteran.
Asked if he’s ever amazed by what he’s engaging in, Bard grinned and mentioned, “Oh yeah, every single day.”
Sunday, Bard pitched an ideal ninth inning in Colorado’s 4-2 win in opposition to the Padres at Petco Park, hanging out the facet for his thirteenth save, tied for the sixth-most within the majors. He enters Tuesday night time’s recreation in opposition to Cleveland at Coors Field with a 2.13 ERA in 24 appearances. His 0.908 WHIP and 11.7 strikeouts per 9 innings are the most effective marks of his profession.
“Yes, it is remarkable,” Rockies pitching coach Darryl Scott mentioned. “Normally, at his age, your physique has taken a whole lot of put on and tear, however your thoughts and your expertise make up for a few of that.
“Now, he has the mindset of somebody in his mid-to-late 30s but he still has the physical side of somebody who’s under 30. The way he prepares himself and the way he goes about his job is admirable, and he has that maturity that you wish you had in some of the younger guys.”
Bard made his main league debut on May 13, 2009, for the Boston Red Sox. The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings in opposition to the Angels at Fenway Park, permitting one hit, one stroll and hanging out one. He was 23.
More than 13 years later, Bard nonetheless throws the identical three pitches: a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball and a slider.
“The way the ball comes out of my hand is not a whole lot different than when I broke in,” Bard mentioned.
The firepower, nevertheless, has elevated.
The velocity on Bard’s four-seamer averages 98.0 mph this season, up only a smidgen from the 97.8 mph fastball he threw in 2009. His slider, nevertheless, is extra depraved than ever, rising from 84.2 mph to 88.4.
Bard mentioned he deserves solely partial credit score.
“I work hard to maintain my body and gain an understanding of how my body works,” he mentioned. “I get within the weight room and attempt to keep cell.
“Because that mobility is the very first thing to go while you get previous 30, particularly together with your hips, again and shoulders. So I’ve labored onerous to keep up that.
“But a lot of it is genetics. Luckily, I’ve hit the jackpot. I know a lot of guys who do everything they can to maintain their body but it just doesn’t respond like they want it to. So I can’t take all of the credit and I can’t say I know exactly what I’m doing.”
Bard’s capacity to throw the ball onerous, at this stage of his profession, is “a gift” supervisor Bud Black mentioned. But it’s a present that Bard nurtures.
“There is a commitment with Daniel and I think that speaks to the kind of person he is,” Black mentioned. “He’s made a commitment to himself and his team.”
Bard had a breakout season with the Red Sox in 2010, showing in 73 video games and posting a 1.93 ERA. He was seen because the inheritor obvious to nearer Jonathan Papelbon.
Bard, nevertheless, believes he’s a greater pitcher now — “No question about it,” he mentioned — partly as a result of he throws a greater slider.
“It’s harder now and I can manipulate it more,” he mentioned. “When I first obtained as much as the bigs, I had solely been throwing the slider for a yr and a half and I solely had one grip and one approach to throw it.
“It would kind of have the same shape. I just let it loose. Now I’ve got three different sliders that I can change the shape and the speed of, which I didn’t have when I was younger.”
According to Black, Bard’s capacity to maintain the ball low within the zone, whereas going upstairs when he must, has been the important thing to his success this season.
“Keeping the ball down was priority No. 1 for Daniel,” Black mentioned. “Secondly, his success this yr has been about his capacity to command the motion on his fastball. He’s obtained large motion on his fastball and at occasions it’s onerous to manage.
“I mean, ninth inning, crisis, save situation, to be able to command the fastball is key.”
Last season, left-hander hitters slashed .319/.406/.600 in opposition to Bard. So far this season, lefties are slashing .143/.236/.286.
“I’ve been more aggressive against lefties, especially early, so that gets me into good counts,” he mentioned. “Last year, I wasn’t great at putting them away. I’d get to two strikes and I’d try to bury (the slider) below the zone but I’d throw it right over the middle. A lot. That hurt me quite a few times. I really worked on that during the offseason. I think it’s paying off.”
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