Daniel Bard, a right-handed pitcher from the University of North Carolina, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the 2006 baseball amateur draft. He is the son of Paul Bard, a former minor leaguer with the Orioles and Dodgers. Daniel Bard served as a starting pitcher in college, but has found a fitting home as a shutdown reliever in the Major Leagues. With a blazing fastball that sits in the high 90s and has reached as high as 101 miles per hour, Bard has the pedigree of a future top-tier closer.
Daniel Bard has had his fastball and a good slider since college, but there were times when it appeared his odds of so much as reaching the majors were slim at best. Bard pitched three seasons of NCAA baseball, making 48 starts and two relief appearances for the Tar Heels from 2004 to 2006. His final amateur season included 94 strikeouts in 101.1 innings with a 3.64 ERA.
Bard’s first experience as a professional was marred by crippling control problems. Pitching in his first year in the minors with the single-A Greenville Drive and Lancaster Jethawks, Bard walked 78 batters in just 75.1 innings. His mechanics were tweaked and he was converted into a reliever heading into fall-ball. Come 2008, Bard had a fresh start and a clean slate.
Starting the 2008 season in Greenville’s bullpen, Bard had a brilliant turnaround. In 28 innings with the Drive, Bard allowed only four walks and 12 hits while striking out 43 for a 0.64 ERA. With the Red Sox sufficiently convinced that he had rebounded from his control problems, Bard was promoted straight to the AA Portland Sea Dogs. He threw 49.2 innings and struck out 64 batters with Portland, earning the Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award to cap his 180 turnaround.
After two night-and-day seasons in the minor leagues, Bard would break into the majors in 2009. He began the season with AAA Pawtucket, throwing 16 dominant innings in which he allowed only six hits and struck out 29. Less than two years after an abysmal season in the low minors, Daniel Bard became a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Bard made his Major League debut on May 13, 2009 in a game against the Los Angeles Angels. He threw two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out a batter. Less than a month later, he had his first save in the Majors, striking out the side in an inning against the Phillies. By the end of the season, Bard was Boston’s primary setup man, finishing with 63 strikeouts in 49.1 innings with a 3.65 ERA and .228 opponents’ batting average. He added a pair of appearances in the playoffs, totaling three perfect innings with four strikeouts.
In 2010, Daniel Bard has asserted himself as a dominant bullpen arm. Through 35.1 innings, he has 37 strikeouts with a 2.29 ERA and .165 opponents’ batting average.