Daniel Bard Continues to Struggle in St. Louis Cardinals System

Jerome Miron- USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron- USA TODAY Sports /

Daniel Bard, a once-effective MLB reliever who has struggled to epic proportions as a minor-leaguer in recent years, continues to get shelled in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system.

When the St. Louis Cardinals signed 31-year-old reliever Daniel Bard to a minor-league contract back in June, it definitely raised some eyebrows.

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While he’d been a very effective–arguably elite–member of the Boston Red Sox’s bullpen in the early 2010s, Bard had been one of the worst pitchers in baseball history over the past four years. A litany of teams, including the Cubs, Rangers, and Pirates, had attempted to revive Bard’s career without success, and after his repeated struggles, it looked like it’d be a massive project for the Cardinals to try to get even a sliver of value out of Bard.

For Bard, who made his debut in the Cardinals’ system with High-A Palm Beach back on August 12, the results haven’t been good at all. He’s now made three appearances, and he’s failed to get through a full inning every time. Over a total of one inning, Bard has allowed six earned runs on two hits, six walks, and three hit batters. He’s also thrown five wild pitches. In case you were wondering, that’s good for a WHIP of 8.00.

Unfortunately, this just continues a long trend for Bard. The last time he posted an ERA under 6.00 at any level was with the Red Sox in 2011, and the last time he averaged under a walk per inning was in 2012. Bard’s struggles seemed to peak in 2014, when he pitched with the Hickory Crawdads, the Low-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Over 2/3 of an inning spread out over four appearances, Bard allowed 13 runs (good for a 175.50 ERA). Amazingly, he didn’t allow a hit, but he walked nine batters while hitting another seven.

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It should be interesting to see how much longer this project is allowed to continue. The Cardinals (and all the other teams that have tried to revive him) obviously believe that they can bring back the pitcher who posted a 1.93 ERA and 1.00 WHIP for the Red Sox in 2010, but at this point it looks like it might be far-fetched. In his defense, Bard does deserve a bunch of credit for sticking with it this long, even as he continues to struggle at a near-historic level.