Originally written on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 4/28/12

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Daniel Bard is not only a good starter, but he is showing signs of becoming a very good starter — maybe real good.

For a guy who was skipped over his last start, was used in the bullpen on an emergency basis and then came out and shut down the White Sox for seven innings last night, it is safe to say that Bard has passed all the required entrance exams to starting school.

It’s time to lose, permanently, his hall pass to the bullpen and just leave him where he is — then sit back and watch him take off.

Bard now has an ERA of 3.72, which is the best of any of the five starters. Felix Doubront is at 4.09, Josh Beckett [stats] at 4.56, Jon Lester [stats] 6.00 and Clay Buchholz at 8.87.

The sample size surely is still small, and Bard does have one fewer start, but we are seeing steady growth and improvement with Bard.

Herald - Bard has rotation locked up

Bard's only had three starts. So, unlike Michael Silverman here, I'm not ready to hail Bard as the second coming of Cy Young. But he has gotten better each time out.

His first start, in Toronto, wasn't very good at all.  He got tagged for 8 hits and 5 runs over 5 innings in a loss.  He took a loss in his next start, against Tampa, in a 1-0 game.  He only gave up 4 hits over 6.2 innings, but he walked 7 Rays (which, if you're not familiar with baseball, is awful).  But his third start, last night in Chicago, was pretty darn good.  There's not much to complain about with his performance. 

And when you take a peek at his overall statistics over those 3 starts (with his 2 outs of relief work thrown in), he has a 3.72 ERA over 19.1 innings, struck out 19 batters, given up 18 hits with 10 walks for a 1.45 WHIP.  If Bard can put up similar numbers over the course of the season, his transition to starter will be a roaring success. 

But, it's only 3 games.  And, the bigger 'but', even if he does stay that consistent, is he more valuable to the Sox in the rotation or in the bullpen?   Aaron Cook is making his final start for Pawtucket today before he needs to decide on his May 1st opt-out.  If he's lights out again (as he has been in every single outing this year) do we roll the dice that he can at least put up Bard-like numbers in the Sox rotation?  If he can, that's addition by addition. 

And let's not let a couple wins force us to forget the fact that the bullpen is still a train-wreck.  As he's stated several times (because he really really really doesn't want to go back to the bullpen) Bard isn't going to plug all the leaky holes in that pen.  But he does help.  And while the Sox are turning over every stone, hoping to find someone to add to the bullpen, there just aren't a lot of options out there.

If I was running the Sox, I would call Cook up and move Bard back to the pen.  But with the way he's been pitching, I wouldn't fault the Sox for leaving Bard right where he is.  I'm happy I'm not in Cherington's seat right now because no matter how he plays this hand, he's going to get blasted. 

On Page 2, Wakefield is getting his day

Here's the complete Press Release from the Sox:

The Red Sox will honor Tim Wakefield May 15 with ‘Thanks, Wake Day' at Fenway Park. The club plays the Seattle Mariners at a special 4:05 p.m. starting time. A pregame ceremony tribute is expected to begin at approximately 3:30 p.m.

The right-handed knuckleball specialist, who won more games at Fenway Park than any pitcher in history, just completed a 19-year career in Major League Baseball, including 17 years with the Red Sox. He announced his retirement February 17, 2012, at the Red Sox’s new spring training site, JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Lee County, Florida.

Wakefield’s Red Sox reached postseason play nine times, and he was part of two momentous World Series Championships, in 2004 and 2007. His selflessness was pivotal in winning the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees.

A champion of charitable efforts in New England and his hometown of Melbourne, Florida, Wakefield was honored as the 2010 recipient of Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award. In 2011, the Boston chapter of the BBWAA announced the start of an annual Tim Wakefield Community Service Award in his honor.

Wakefield has been actively involved with “Pitching in for Kids,” a non-profit organization dedicated to providing grants to improve the lives of children across New England. He supports Melbourne’s Space Coast Early Intervention Center, a unique non-profit therapeutic pre-school program for children with special needs. He adopted the Center in 1992 when it was struggling financially and faced closure and has helped to raise over $10 million for the organization through his annual Tim Wakefield Celebrity Golf Classic and Memorabilia Auction. Over the last 13 years, his “Wakefield Warriors” program has enabled patients from the Franciscan Hospital for Children and the Jimmy Fund in Boston to visit with him and watch batting practice before all Tuesday home games at Fenway Park. He has also been an active participant of the Red Sox’s annual Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon and served as the organization’s Co-Captain in 2010 and 2011.

ESPN - Sox to honor Tim Wakefield on May 15

Congrats, Timmy.  Wish I could be there.

Rest of the links:

Herald - Big Papi equals Rice on HR list | Red Sox hot in cold | Crawford tries 'rich' idea | Globe - They’re on the road to redemption | Reliever Hill back on the hill | Bard proving his worth as a starter | ESPN - Baldelli feels Crawford's pain | WEEI - A look at why this starting thing is working out for Daniel Bard | Daniel Bard: I have to ‘be careful and think about my career’ | CSNNE - Bard delivers best performance as starter | McDonald gets hot in chilly Chi-Town

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