Don and I were talking Sox earlier today, and after commiserating on the poor state of the team in the past few days - a shifting cast of characters in the outfield, an infield now rife with injuries, and a bullpen when key guys like Ramirez, Okajima, and Papelbon have stopped performing - we finally found a bright spot: Daniel Bard. As it turns out, not only has Bard felt like a rock this year, but the numbers show he's pitched like one, too, with that stellar ERA+ of 217 front and center.
But digging a little deeper, you see an interesting contrast that stands out when you compare season totals: Bard has increased his control, but at the expense of strikeouts. WHIP, hits per nine, walks per nine, strikeout to walk ratio; they've all improved (and Bard is about ten innings shy of his 2009 totals, so this is a great time to compare), but strikeouts per nine (and total strikeouts, of course) are down. Presumably Bard has taken something off of his fastball to improve his control, but what I find so interesting about this change is how obvious it seems. One seemingly minor adjustment has ripples across a whole group of performance numbers...and even better, all of those ripples are positive. So here's to you, Daniel Bard: thanks for being such a rock.