William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon, may have been a terrific wordsmith but I doubt he could hold his own coming out of the bullpen like the Bard of Boston, the Red Sox' Daniel Bard. For Sox manager, Terry Francona, Bard has been pitching like a midsummer's night dream. Since May 27, Bard has held opponents scoreless in 20 appearances covering 21.2 innings over his last 20 games. According to Elias, Bard’s 20 straight scoreless outings match the all-time club record, previously accomplished by Ugueth Urbina from 4/26-6/26/2002.
Let's take a look under the hood....
Bard's scoreless streak since 5/27
Overall, batters in this streak are hitting .113 (8-for-71), .132 against his fastball and .063 against his slider.
Placement of Bard's fastball
His fastball is his pitch-to-contact pitch. While he has recorded 10 whiffs in 58 plate appearances against the fastball, batters have swung and missed 19.6% of the time.
Placement of slider
His slider is his strikeout pitch. He has recorded 12 whiffs in 17 plate appearances using the slider. Batters have swung and missed 54.2% of the time.
Coming out of Bard's hand, the slider looks like a fastball, but the difference in its break is significant.
These two pitches, mixed with an occasional changeup, are the reasons why Bard has the longest active scoreless streak in the majors and longest by a Boston pitcher this season. Bard’s is the longest for a Sox reliever in a single season since Jonathan Papelbon’s 22.0-inning streak, 5/4-6/26/06 and the quality of Bard's pitching is why Papelbon may already be expendable for GM Theo Epstein because we all know that a closer by any other name may still smell as sweet...maybe even sweeter.