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Hitters Not Taking Bard's Bait

While reliever-to-starter conversions are proving successful on both sides of Chicago (Jeff Samardzija for the Cubs and Chris Sale for the White Sox), the same can't be said for Boston's Daniel Bard. The erstwhile set-up man, whose most recent starting experience as a pro prior to this season was a walk-a-thon in A-Ball back in 2007, has tallied more free passes (29) than strikeouts (28) for the Red Sox while posting a 90 ERA+.

A major reason why Bard is handing out so many base on balls is that batters aren't taking his bait on pitches thrown outside of the strike zone. In fact, Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez is the only starting pitcher with a lower opponent chase rate this year:

Lowest Chase Rates among SPs (min. 150 batters faced)

Pitcher Chase Pct.
Ubaldo Jimenez 20.0%
Daniel Bard 20.3%
Jeanmar Gomez 21.0%
Philip Humber 22.1%
Ervin Santana 23.1%
Brandon Beachy 23.9%
Brandon Morrow 23.9%
C. J. Wilson 23.9%
Yovani Gallardo 24.0%
Erik Bedard 24.0%
MLB Avg. for SP 28.4%


Bard has a below-average chase rate with his low-90s fastball and low-80s slider, but it's his hard, upper 80s changeup that hitters are really laying off:

Bard's Chase Rate By Pitch Type

Pitch Pct. Thrown Chase Pct. MLB Avg.
Fastball 55 22.2 25.7
Slider 26 25 35.5
Changeup 19 11 35.8


Bard often locates his changeup high-and-away to lefty batters...

Bard's changeup location, 2012...But they're not biting. Take a look at hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Bard's changeup, and then the league average for lefty batters against righty pitchers: 

Hitters' swing rate by pitch location vs. Bard's changeup, 2012

Average swing rate by lefty hitters vs. right-handed changeups, 2012

Perhaps Bard's chase rate will get a boost when he takes on the Tigers tonight (7 PM EST, ESPN). Collectively, Detroit's disappointing offensive attack (ninth in the AL in runs scored) has a 30 percent chase rate. Here are the Tigers taking few pitches thrown off the plate in 2012:

Highest Chase Rates among Tigers Hitters

Batter Chase Pct.
Delmon Young 39.9%
Brennan Boesch 37.3%
Andy Dirks 35.3%
Danny Worth 33.3%
Ramon Santiago 32.4%
Miguel Cabrera 31.9%
Prince Fielder 30.7%
Don Kelly 30.4%

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