Thursday, September 10, 2009

Daniel Bard throws a changeup

Daniel Bard had thrown five fastballs and two sliders to Cesar Izturis in Wednesday's eighth inning, and four straight foul balls had left him searching for answers a little bit.

He then threw a changeup down and in that Izturis waved at and missed. He threw another changeup to Brian Roberts before walking the second baseman on a fastball inside.

Bard came out of college as a starting pitcher with three pitches, but he's all but ditched the changeup this season to focus on his 98-mile-per-hour fastball and his biting slider that disappears against righthanded hitters.

According to FanGraphs' PitchF/X stats, Bard this season has thrown 72 percent fastballs, 26 percent breaking balls and just 0.6 percent changeups. His changeup doesn't even show up on his game-to-game charts.

"I throw it every day in my warm-ups and my side sessions," Bard said, "and I keep it in my back pocket for whenever I need it. The main time it comes into play is when I get deep into an at-bat with a lefthanded hitter and I’ve shown him two or three fastballs and two or three sliders."

The reason it works so well against lefties is because it tails away from lefties, a screwball-type effect that's a stark contrast to his slider. Bard used that movement effectively in striking out Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins back in May, but he hasn't yet done it in four appearances against the New York Yankees. It'll be interesting to see if he breaks it out later this month against the Yankees' lefty-heavy lineup.

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